The measures taken by the various governments of the world to combat the strong spread of the coronavirus also have specific implications for 2020. Some outlets have been temporarily closed, while others have put restrictive protocols in place for their entry. and others have discovered a resolutely digital distribution channel. 2020 was definitely a year of accelerating online commerce, fueled by democratizing buying behavior.
Obviously, if we have to determine a big winner for digital commerce this year, it is Amazon. The international impact was already deep and solid. They enabled him to apply his method without difficulty and to become a company with more than a million employees by the end of the year. In France, the key indicator of change in consumer behavior could easily be “Black Friday”. But very offended, he was again successful for the company.
Commerce challenged by COVID-19
However, when many other e-merchants have had a very good year behind them, a strong contrast must be noted with others who did not want or could not initiate a shift towards digital. In some cases, they thought the French would prefer local businesses, which they didn’t. For others, the problem has mainly been a lack of resources (technical, human, financial), which recently resulted in a government envelope of 100 million euros to help French companies digitize.
In general, many digital commerce services, often attributed to large platforms, have hit retailers of all sizes. These services mainly focus on product accessibility to make ordering as easy as possible. In this way we have seen booksellers offering their customers, butchers, bakers who manage Click & Collect orders on their Facebook page, or even once reluctant wine merchants, a drive through service and finally start a delivery on site. Logically, groceries have benefited the most from this flexibility, with the drive channel in France up 150% and online sales up 98% in the first quarter of 2020.
The time was indeed conducive to the creation of online stores. Known for its flexibility and scalability, the Shopify platform saw website creation increase 49% in Anglo-Saxon countries. An impressive example of this flexibility was shown in a project in which the Emakina agency and the Al Hokair group were involved. Within 14 days, the teams were able to create a virtual and fully functional shopping center called Fahfashion from scratch. For existing stores, please note that the Click & Collect orders have tripled and local delivery has multiplied by 5. In countries that are already familiar with e-commerce, behavior has intensified considerably.
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The evolution of shipping methods is a notable indicator of digital commerce. It is not always easy to offer so much flexibility in the customer experience as it requires refined organization on the part of the brand. The development of such practices leads to an accelerated gain in maturity in digital commerce, regardless of the industry or the size of the company.
Do customers always want more?
When behavior has adapted to both the restrictions imposed and the new services offered, the new expectations tend to persist. A “new normal” is gradually emerging for brands between service quality, user-centered approach and simplicity.
This new normal is being driven by the explosion in consumer use of e-commerce. Often ordered on large platforms, their high standards are taken for granted on other websites.
A recent Selligent study shows an increase in customer requirements. For example, 81% like a seller to be flexible when it comes to returning or canceling orders. Between teleworking, childbirth and obtaining an exit permit, the part of the mental stress associated with traveling is not negligible and any feeling of frustration can multiply. It is therefore important for brands to offer the highest level of security in terms of returns.
The simplicity and user-centric approach popular with new 100% online services therefore creates a higher level of expectation.
For companies, the approach to these new standards will not just be part of a more digital axis. The user-centric approach that guarantees the quality of customer service is mainly a matter of attitude. After all, it would be very dangerous for companies to interpret the signs of an acceleration in digital commerce in recent months as their digital maturity.
To wrap up this article and our observation of 2020, it seems important to underline one point. Of course, digital commerce has accelerated significantly. Even so, the trend among gamers who have surfaced seems to be more affordable for pure gamers than for multi-channel brands. The power play between a marketplace and a brand that has to manage their ecommerce website, points of sale, mobile application … could gradually get out of whack unless you maintain a higher and more sophisticated customer experience. The perceived value of the brand experience must be greater than the practical applicability of the customer experience offered by the market.
After all, consumer practices in many sectors have exceeded their protagonists’ expectations. Video conferencing, food delivery, drive, e-commerce … In a few months, a large proportion of customers have reached the equivalent of several years of maturity in their use. As a result, companies pride themselves on having made the same profit on their digital transformation, but this is just a mirage caused by health restrictions. Once repealed, the same companies will have to tackle two inseparable themes to be successful: e-commerce and digital transformation.
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