As the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the globe, retail and eCommerce shopping changed dramatically. Rather than browsing shelves and purchasing products in person, customers transitioned to online product pages, digital carts, and new technologies designed to make eCommerce shopping experiences exciting and enjoyable.
And while some of these new shopping trends will wane when the pandemic eases, there are several that seem to have some staying power. What experiences do your customers want to keep around post-pandemic? Let’s look at 4 examples below.
For busy parents and professionals, in-person shopping is an absolute nightmare. Besides taking precious time out of the day, it requires mileage and energy that most just don’t want to spend.
Curbside pickup -- which exploded in popularity during 2020 -- solved this problem by allowing customers to shop online and drop by to pick up their order at their leisure. From groceries and takeout to clothing, pet supplies, and sports equipment, virtually any type of major product can be retrieved without customers ever leaving their cars. For this reason alone, it’s no surprise that 59% of customers plan to continue using the curbside pickup option once the pandemic has passed.
While many customers prefer the new online shopping option, there is still quite a divergence in the types of shopping people do. Some like to visit brick-and-mortar locations. Many enjoy click-and-collect shopping. And others use a combination of digital and in-person shopping methods to get the products they want and need.
Offering an omnichannel shopping experience, where customers can bounce between physical stores and their mobile devices, makes it possible to cater to all sorts of shoppers. And since the popularity of alternative shopping methods is predicted to grow over the next few years, it will likely become a necessity for many retail and eCommerce businesses.
Being unable to see, touch, and try on items makes it difficult for customers to decide which products to buy. And in the case of larger ticket items, this lack of knowledge can lead to prolonged indecision or complete cart abandonment.
To give customers a way to interact with products while shopping from their mobile devices, many businesses have invested in augmented reality and virtual reality technologies to take products to their online customers. IKEA, Home Depot, and Target all created apps which allow shoppers to put 3D furniture pieces in their homes virtually to gauge the size and aesthetic before purchasing. Meanwhile, Nike and Gap created apps to help customers determine their shoe size and clothing fit, respectively.
And it seems to be paying off. With 32% of customers shopping with AR/VR technology in 2020 and 73% being satisfied with the experience, it’s not likely to go anywhere, anytime soon.
As people spent more time in their homes during the pandemic, personal assistant technology grew in popularity. Customers made shopping lists, placed orders, and even “browsed” eCommerce store inventory via their smart devices. In fact, nearly 20% of customers have made a purchase with a smart, voice-enabled speaker.
But the trend isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. With voice-based technology getting more sophisticated and consumers discovering its convenience, voice commerce is actually predicted to grow into a $40 billion industry in the United States by 2022. This means websites and apps compatible with voice commands will naturally follow suit.
While the pandemic will pass eventually, there will be some lasting results for retail and eCommerce businesses. Fortunately, these innovations have the potential to yield a solid ROI in the coming years. As we look ahead, we should keep an eye on click-and-collect, omnichannel shopping, voice commerce, and augmented reality trends, as they will likely have a major role to play.