Yes! Considering the socio-economic impact of Covid-19, how can it not be? Perhaps it is better to ask how it may be different, which is best predicted by looking at changes in consumer behaviour over the past year.
1. More consumers are shopping online
Whether as a matter of necessity, a form of escapism, curiosity or sheer boredom, this year has introduced new consumers to online retail. Online shopping offers a safer experience amidst the coronavirus outbreak, but it is also remarkably convenient as you can shop anytime it suits you, easily compare prices across websites, and save time by avoiding the crowds.
2. Consumers are more tech-savvy
Working from home has become synonymous with adopting new technology. Last year no one talked about Zoom meetings! Remote work has progressed digital adoption and, with that, consumer confidence. Having mastered more online technology during the 2020 pandemic, consumers are increasingly becoming comfortable with shopping online.
3. Consumer trust became a top priority
Hopping online for specials is easy, but knowing who to trust is not. Retailers cannot assume that consumers will know whether to trust them – they need to actively show how and why by sharing links to testimonials, highlighting good reviews and promoting secure payment methods. An online chat service or chatbot can also help to answer quick questions that reassure customers.
4. Consumers are more discerning
The eCommerce space has become more competitive and with that comes great choice, possibly resulting in higher traffic yet lower conversion rates. As consumers bargain hunt across sites, online retailers need to find innovative ways to capture their attention. In fact, I suspect that consumers may finally have started researching product prices in advance to avoid falling for weak or fake specials.
5. Consumers know what they want
There is nothing quite like a pandemic (and the accompanying existential crises) to help get your priorities straight. Having spent more time at home, consumers have become more in tune with what they really want. But, this does not mean that customers are planning to spend a lot, which brings me to my next point.
6. Consumers are strapped for cash
Knowing that many people have had salary cuts or even lost their main source of income, it would be insensitive to expect consumers to spend like water. For this reason, retailers need to note that consumers will be expecting actual specials. If the price isn’t right, they simply won’t buy it. Consumers are less likely to take chances on a stressed budget and this may decrease the average spend per person in South Africa.
This year has been anything but predictable. Covid-19 has been a catalyst for the adoption of online shopping, but to capitalise on this growth, online retailers need to focus on providing consumers with trust, relevance and convenience.