The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has upended nearly every aspect of “normalcy” that we were once accustomed to. From wearing face coverings on regular outings to shifting to remote work environments, each day seems to bring together another, a newer version of “normal.” While many of these transitions have been new to us, some industries, such as eCommerce, have expanded as a result of the pandemic.
So, what does the future of eCommerce look like in the long term, and how can you position your online business for success in this new age? In this post, we’ll take a look at how experts are projecting the future of eCommerce will unfold, and we’ll provide some tips to help you ensure you’re on the cutting edge.
What to expect from eCommerce in the coming months, years
Uncertainty is the name of the game at this point. While many will speculate when a vaccine will debut or when the economy will rebound, the truth is none of us know. What we do know is, change is constant, especially as demand for online purchases is becoming even more apparent than it already was.
Already, we see many big box and brick and mortar shops shifting their business models to serve the online shopper — offering curbside pickup is one popular option. But what other changes can we anticipate? Some experts are saying that we may see some additional changes to eCommerce operations as a result of the virus, including:
- Additional warehouse popups to fulfill shipping and manufacturing demands
- More shipping delays as demands continue to soar.
- Increased shipping costs for next-day and premium shipping services
- Possible delays and shortages for popular and must-have items
- Returns may be harder to initiate with growing safety concerns.
Whether you’re a consumer or business owner, it’s essential to consider these possible changes as you prepare to withstand the coming months in the time of COVID-19.
How to adapt as an eCommerce business
Running your own business is challenging enough as is, but doing so amid a global pandemic is a whole new ball game. As you prepare to weather the storm, keep these tips in mind:
- Get online!
Because there is a substantially lower risk having items delivered to your doorstep rather than going in-store, many consumers have transitioned partially or fully to online shopping mode. If your business is still only servicing in-store customers, you might want to think otherwise.
If you’re not quite ready to launch an eCommerce operation of your own, worry not! There are several user-friendly options that business owners can turn to instead. Sites like Amazon and Etsy provide platforms where makers can pay a fee to have their products displayed on their marketplace rather than (or in addition to) their website. Additionally, simple plug-ins like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce can be added to and easily managed from your domain.
- Boost online user experience
When a user hops onto your website, making a purchase should be as seamless as possible! From viewing product styles and variations to checking out, there should be no lapse in the purchasing process. Check out these user experience tips to get your eCommerce system up to speed in no time:
- Speaking of speed, make sure you check your site’s speed regularly — long loading times could cause users to bounce off your site and head to one of your competitors instead. You can check your site’s speed for free using:
- WebPage Test
- Prioritizing high-quality product imagery is one of the most effective ways to improve your eCommerce site’s user experience. Shoppers like to visualize themselves owning your product, so make it as easy as possible for them to do that using video, close-up images, styled pictures, and even social media posts from your fans, with their permission, of course!
Consider this example. While puppy videos are inherently valuable for their cute-factor, this idea is an excellent example of a positive user experience. Since prospective puppy owners can’t adopt until puppies are eight weeks or older, having a live stream readily available is the perfect place for them to catch a glimpse of their new furry friend.
Here’s another cool idea: encourage reviewers to include images of them sporting your product along with their text post.
This activewear company has an entire section of their website dedicated to customer photos. This way, shoppers can see a diverse selection of everyday women wearing their products and doing what they love.
- Make your navigation easy to understand. As you build your website, make sure that the structure is easy for the average browser to understand. Sections should be well-organized and located in subfolders that make sense. And remember, good UX will also help your website on the SEO side, too!
- Consider chatbots. Online shopping offers up tons of convenience, but one thing shoppers might feel like is lacking is the customer service experience. But with a smart chatbot or online customer service associates, you can quickly restore that missing element.
Vapor Empire, a vape retailer, uses chatbots to enhance the online shopping experience for its users. By entering some basic questions, users can then be directed to the department that can best answer their queries.
- Rethink your supply chain
Many of the delays that we saw at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis were due in part to interrupted supply chains. Like many places around the globe, these regions also experienced the disruption of the pandemic, which led to halted operations, back-ordered items, and long wait times for online shoppers. To prepare and keep business as usual, many eCommerce companies are searching for ways that they can diversify their supply chain if a similar circumstance occurs later on down the road.
Although none of us can predict the exact effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are several things business owners can do to position themselves for success. By understanding what may lie ahead and:
- Launching online operations,
- Boosting user experience on your site,
- And rethinking your supply chain,
You can easily improve your eCommerce operations and better plan for the future. As we learn and grow during these unprecedented times, be sure to share your journey with us in the comment section below!
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California, and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.