E-commerce is currently going through an enormous change. People who have rarely or never ordered online are now doing so – and this increase will not level off, even after the crisis. How can e-commerce prepare for this and why should retailers react quickly?
The change from offline to online retail
In the past few weeks, there has been a huge change to how we shop, from offline to online retail. Order volumes have shot up; for example grocery sales are 20 percent higher during coronavirus than during Christmas 2019. E-commerce is booming and bursting at the seams. It is likely that this adoption of online shopping will remain once the coronavirus crisis is over. People who have never shopped online are now experiencing the convenience of doing so.
New target groups identified
I imagine if you surveyed the British public and asked who hasn’t made an online order in the past 8 weeks the number would be very low. Even people who rarely or have never ordered online have been doing so during the UK’s lockdown, even if it is just to buy essential goods they’re no longer able to leave the house to get.
In particular, older people, who are not or were not very familiar with the digital world, have discovered the joys of online shopping. It is precisely for these groups that online shopping must be as simple and convenient as possible.
There were already several different types of consumers we see online. The virus has added whole new categories to this list. These include the people who traditionally shopped in bricks and mortar stores. These people usually choose to shop offline for a variety of reasons, including: limited trust in logistics processes, lack of digital know-how, concerns at entering payment details online – to name a few. However, they have had to put these concerns to one side during lockdown as they are forced online. If e-retailers want to keep them as customers once stores reopen, they need to address these concerns and reassure them. In addition, experiences online must match those offline in terms of personalisation, customer touch points and ease. This will only work if the overall online operations experience is considered.
Retailers need to review overall ‘Operations Experience’
Now is the time to act quickly and provide customers with a seamless shopping experience. First and foremost, it is important to offer everyone the best possible customer experience. But there’s more than this to consider. If you want to stand out from your competition in the long run, you should go one step further and optimise your Operations Experience (OX).
What does this mean?
Retailers can improve customer experience by working on their operations experience. All relevant order and fulfilment steps should be checked and streamlined by the retailer themselves. In this way, problems can be recognised early and dealt with proactively.
How can they do this?
Using fully configurable and automated workflows, companies can communicate directly, in a highly personalised manner, at all relevant points in the process. This means they are no longer losing customer contact points to third party carriers such as DHL and Hermes. By doing this, companies ensure a consistent brand experience and proactive customer service maximised cross-selling potential.
Conclusion: a new era for e-commerce
A new era has begun in e-commerce. Many people have already got used to ordering their goods online and the resulting advantages are enormous. New target groups will be available and they are likely to remain even once high street stores reopen. If the retailer’s logistics processes and operations experience are optimised now, their future in e-commerce will be bright.
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