When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, it caused a massive shift in purchases to online stores. According to Ofcom’s 2021 report, British consumers spent a massive £113 billion online during 2020 – 48% more than the previous year.
Now we’re able to shop in person again, there’s a clear split in consumers that are ready to head back out to shop, and those that want to stay online, with just under half of consumers reporting they’ll be doing more shopping online after the pandemic.
For many, the pandemic has highlighted the safety and comfort of online shopping, and customers are motivated by finding the best price, the highest quality or the most environmentally friendly purchases.
So how can you maintain the strength in online sales?
Assess your online service
It’s no secret that online sales are here to stay. As this data from the Office of National Statistics shows, online shopping has been gaining popularity over time for years, hitting a massive spike due to the pandemic.
Source: Office for National Statistics, Internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales.
Most business are now set up to run online, but if yours isn’t – now is the time.
Spend some time assessing your online model and how it compares to the in-person experience and your competitors. Could you create new ways to deliver old favourites, like product sampling by post?
Make sure customers can access support online, including creating resources or extending customer service hours. 7 out of 10 consumers reported being willing to spend more on a product from a brand known for excellent customer support.
When non-essential shops were shut, many online sellers gained new customers who often fell outside of the typical audience demographics.
It’s crucial to retain this new audience to maintain online sales, turning as many as possible first-time customers into repeat customers.
This is partly done through an excellent experience, or motivators like loyalty schemes, but also through connecting with customers via social media and emails. Make use of digital platforms to create personalised communications for a more tailored brand experience.
Many faced longer wait times for their purchases during the pandemic. Now is the time to perfect your supply chain, ensuring that products are getting to customers quickly and reliably.
Setting accurate dispatch times and keeping to them is essential for customer retention. One study showed that 13% of consumers would never return to a retailer if their delivery was late. Being transparent in your delivery predictions ensures your customer is not disappointed and increases the likelihood of their return to your site.
Online sales is certainly not dead after the pandemic, and will likely only increase in popularity over the coming years. Having an engaging and reliable platform is vital to connect with consumers in the digital world.