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E-commerce way of life in a post-pandemic world.

A lot is said about the digital transformations and their influence caused by COVID- 19. The pandemic has accelerated the move from physical to virtual banking - a cost-effective approach that’s fast, effective, and customer-friendly.

COVID-19 has not only changed but also accelerated the immediate future of e-commerce and its respective market. Pervasive restrictions and lockdowns have driven companies to shift their businesses and services online. The use of digital technology and e-commerce has become the business norm. Consumers have quickly responded to the changed circumstances and shifted their vision towards benefits offered by the digital world and especially the world of e-commerce. 

According to Statista in June 2020, global retail e-commerce traffic hit a record 22 billion monthly visits, with demand being exceptionally high for every-day items such as groceries, clothing, but also retail tech items. Moreover, in 2019, e-retail sales accounted for 14.1 percent of all retail sales worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 22 percent in 2023. 

According to a proprietary analysis by Deutsche Bank in Western Europe (France, Spain, Italy, and Germany), consumers spent on average between 30% and 60% more on online retail at year-end 2020 compared to March. The biggest e-commerce sales are in the United Kingdom, with 42% of the population buying online, and in the US, where e-commerce rose to 36% in December. 

As we can see from these figures the E-commerce adoption levels differ from region to the region and logically, the post-pandemic situation depends on the speed with which countries are adopting digital transformation in order to keep up with the rapidly increasing demand. 

The adoption of the “new normal” brought up by E-commerce will continuously evolve as fintech startups disrupt the technologies in the post-pandemic situation enabling faster and more flexible technologies for the convenience of customers, who are obliged to embrace new realities. 

Following these conclusions, it’s obvious that E-commerce secured itself a prominent place in the finance world, capturing a prominent market share. Customers willingly buy, order, and pay from the comfort of their homes. 

However, what steps should e-commerce companies take to keep up with the pace of this development in a post-pandemic environment?

Customer experience

    Needless to say, that there were E-commerce companies before the pandemic that had quite a success, such as grocery shops, electronic devices markets. On the other hand, we have companies that use E-commerce as a tool to mitigate the losses from the close of their retail store.  Let’s take the fashion industry as an example. In general, the fashion and clothes sector are strongly tied to physical retail outlets, because the customers need to examine the clothes or try them on before buying. If during the lockdown E-commerce serves as an opportunity to keep the wardrobe full, then in post-pandemic times e-commerce will be estimated as insufficiently convenient. From this point of view, e-commerce stores need to show agility and offer facilities to level up their customer experience and stay competitive. For example, set up AR/VR showrooms where the customer can virtually see and try the benefits of the product.  The second factor is the speedy delivery services. The main differentiating side of e-commerce in comparison with a traditional retail store is the speed. E-commerce enables a click-and-collect option when a customer clicks on a pay button and after an hour gets the ordered product delivered at his door. 
    Moreover, distribution companies, due to growing demand, are experiencing intensive growth that enables them to build up new capacities for the E-commerce stores to provide extraordinary delivery services to customers whereas the retail stores haven’t even reinvented the traditional delivery methods. 

Strong technological capabilities

    Successful e-commerce requires advanced technology and a sophisticated approach. As customer experience across platforms is key to conversion and retention, frictionless and seamless payment services make the crucial part of e-commerce company advancement. Diverse payment methods, secure and reliable payment checkout, transactions speed - everything should promote timely and personal advantages to customers to show them the cost-effectiveness and way of shopping. Mobile banking, e-wallets - broaden the borders of payment capabilities. And here we shouldn’t underestimate one point - the generation gap. While Generation Z is actively using advanced technologies and has no problems in implementing vigorous and complicated advanced technologies, it’s quite a challenging task for senior demographics to get accustomed to a new way of life. Elder-friendly websites or other E-commerce services need to be more frictionless in order to reassure them of the comfort and reliability of the steps taken.  One of the most significant steps should be automation. For example, E-commerce should enable default settings to diminish repetitive manual tasks such as entering payment details. By doing so people get rid of stressful procedures, thus customer retention is achieved. 

Marketing as a way to a broad audience

    Intensified online competition is the reason to pay attention to the development of marketing strategies to stay strong in the competitive area. One of the main tools to scale the audience awareness is SEO optimization that is quite significant in keeping both paid and organic marketing strategy. The marketing strategies which center around customer experience tend to pay more attention to opportunities such as loyalty programs, promotions, subscription models, and expansion of the product range to attract and retain customers.  

As illustrated above, the pandemic has highlighted the power of digital technology. The companies that have taken timely actions and quickly responded to new realities should embrace more innovative and diverse solutions to keep up with the fast-growing competition post-pandemic. From this point of view, the E-commerce company should deem convenience as a central reason for its success in providing a sizable customer segment to serve digitally in the post-COVID-19 future. 

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