Should you update your ecommerce amid a culture shock?

Brian Walsh
March 30th 2020
First things first, it might sound counterintuitive to start spending precious resources investing into your ecommerce or online presence at this time. However, one could argue that a dip in the economy is the exact time to make the shift and stay ahead of the changes to consumer behavior and your competitors.
Thankfully, technology is adapting at every moment to aid the current needs of the social climate. While a modern recession may affect many industries such as medical, food, and telecommunication for example, ecommerce is no different and will need to adapt with consumers as well.
Loss of foot-traffic or inability for customers to interact with physical products, presents a new need to ensure you’re providing a heightened User Experience. Increased accessibility to products, information and your business through virtual means is the basic first step towards staying afloat for those no longer doing any in-person spending. Improving your online presence will create a reliable infrastructure for your business far beyond any cultural wave.

Changing Consumer Behaviors

If consumer culture as a whole has recently been reluctant to leave the comfort of their homes, they need to be able to continue to rely on your goods or services. In the immediate, they need distractions and have the spare time to browse the vast digital landscapes. Long term effects on consumer behavior? Increased likelihood to interact with brands digitally than ever before.
People typically make the jump into the online shopping space by starting off with what they define as essentials. To list a few: food and cleaning products, home office needs, celebrations that don’t stop, games and entertainment, health products, instruments or tools, and components for DIY projects. During a culture shock, people need new distractions or essentials to make them more comfortable day-to-day.
Navigating the selling space can become tricky however, as time goes on. It’s no secret that a lot of individual family units will be worried about their financial situation. This group will likely be saving now and planning to buy later. But that doesn’t mean they should be ignored in your marketing or planning. You need to be prepared for them when they are ready to return to their normal spending patterns. While this group is looking towards the future, they still deserve a great User Experience with your brand once they recover. Building lasting consumer relationships is key here.

Why Start Now?

To be frank, building or improving an online shop can’t happen overnight without causing a lot of headaches in the future. You will need a minimum of 1.5 to 3 months to get it ready. Make sure you’re not scrambling -- start now.
Be prepared for a “new normal” after this period of social uncertainty. People that once preferred to physically shop or interact with products, are now being forced to use online delivery and/or pick-up options, mobile app ordering, and virtual conferencing for everything from home-schooling to doctor appointments. This situation is forcing late adopters to experience the ease of the digital world, but the transition might not be so smooth. If those frustrated by the online-only lifestyle see how easy things can be through your website, they might not go back to their old ways easily.

Other Variables to Keep in Mind

If you don’t currently have an ecommerce store set up, you will need to alert and prepare your internal operations to make sure you have proper logistics in place. If you’ve already had ecommerce on lock for a while, but are looking to improve the system, you might need to adjust the current process to accomodate a higher percentage of your sales coming via the internet.
During this changing phase, you can’t forget about marketing. Craft your marketing plan to be flexible and reassuring to the public. Make sure your customers know your business is there to make their life easy and safe by offering better online, remote, or virtual experiences.
Whether you’re planning to start your first ecommerce shop, improve your current one, or reimagine your online strategy in the wake of virtualization, it should be thought of as a long term investment. When all is said and done, the right team who never cuts corners will give you a digital property that will change the nature of your business forever. It’s actually lucky timing for a task we’ve all been meaning to do; the nature of the consumer will be completely different in six months, so don’t let the opportunity pass you by.

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