2020 is going to be remembered as the year that changed it all. While the world came to an economic standstill, eCommerce and digital sectors witnessed an unprecedented boom. While the world saw global lockdowns being implemented to deter the spread of the virus, businesses and consumers have increasingly adopted digital mediums to complete their routine tasks.
According to a report by IBM’s U.S Retail Index, department stores are expected to decline by over 60% for the full year. Meanwhile, e-commerce is projected to grow by nearly 20% in 2020.
In January, total visits to Amazon were up 20% compared with January 2020 and up 37% compared with February 2020, according to Digital Commerce 360’s analysis of traffic data from web measurement firm SimilarWeb. Even after almost a year of the pandemic, Amazon continues to see increased traffic and sale through its online store.
The pandemic has further highlighted the need for department store retailers to expand their operations and provide an omnichannel experience to users. To remain competitive in the new environment, retailers must quickly pivot to omnichannel fulfillment capabilities.
According to McKinsey, 10 years of e-commerce adoption was compressed into three months. This paradigm shift has been witnessed not only in first-world countries where online shopping was widely prevalent but also in places with populations that were more reliant on shopping frequently from brick-and-mortar stores. This is not only an acceleration of digital commerce but also a sharp change in consumer behavior. What started off as a compulsion, has now become the norm in online shopping.
The increased adoption of digital commerce has also led to changes in other industries like shipping, technology, traditional brick and mortar stores to keep pace with the changing customer demands. This massive shift in customer behavior is unprecedented and has generally been observed over decades. These accelerated changes were not a well-crafted strategy but rose out of survival instinct. As more and more cities kept getting closed, people took over digital mediums to meet their requirements.
For retailers operating through a physical store, this has been a harrowing experience. Plummeting sales, lost income, meant double the difficulties at a time when everyone is already struggling. The huge economic repercussions faced by these stores have led to the closing of business for many of them. Those who had adopted the online medium have on the other end thrived and are faring better than their counterparts. As people grow more used to online shopping and getting goods delivered to their doorstep, this trend will continue to grow and bring in higher dividends.
Online stores, on the other hand, have upped the game by improving services, expanded their inventory, catering to wider demography, streamlining the checkout process, introduced referral programs, and incentivizing users to use their apps and services. To avoid further delays or disruptions to shipments and deliveries, B2C and B2B sellers have had to optimize all line items at checkout. Online stores are also adapting fast to keep in line with the changing customer demands.
Is this consumer behavior here to stay? As we eventually return back to normality, and storefronts begin gaining ground again, it is likely that the changes brought on by the pandemic to customer shopping trends will change the fabric of online shopping and lay the outline for these stores to operate and function.
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