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The impact COVID-19 has had on customer behavior

The pandemic has affected every area of business, and that includes eCommerce brands. Consumer shopping behavior has drastically changed since the beginning of the pandemic which means that customer retention strategies have shifted.

It’s no surprise that customers prefer to shop online than in stores—online shopping has been a growing trend for years now. However, now customers have a different mindset when it comes to where they shop. Here are 4 eCommerce trends that sparked during the pandemic that are here to stay:

Support for local businesses

Local businesses contribute to a major portion of economic growth and consumers have paid special attention to that during the pandemic. The idea of shopping small may make you worry about your sales numbers, but it doesn’t have to be that way. To stay on top, brands will need to look for ways to connect and partner with the local community. A few ways your brand can connect with local communities are:

  • Volunteer at local events with your team to build relationships both locally and internally

  • Sponsor local events

  • Integrate storytelling into your marketing plan to tell the story of your client, customer, and community success

Over 60% of consumers said they’d be willing to pay slightly higher prices for a product to support a small business, and are willing to pay over half for shipping in order to support a small, local and/or independent retailer. What we’re trying to say is, don’t pass up on the opportunity to support your community and local businesses.

Need for sustainability

Since the pandemic, customers have become more conscious of how their buying decisions affect the planet. They’ve become more mindful about their habits to avoid waste—so much so that 73% of consumers around the world said they would change their consumption habits to reduce environmental impact.

To retain customers, brands need to have a heightened focus on sustainability and display their eco-conscious across all channels. ECommerce brands can implement sustainable practices by:

  • Reducing packaging

  • Using sustainable shipping

  • Reducing energy consumption

  • Utilizing recycled materials

  • Using data analytics to prevent waste and returns

The path of sustainability is not always convenient (or cheap!) but the benefit is twofold: happier customers and a healthier planet. If sustainability is something that your brand values, shout it from the rooftops! Dedicate website content, blogs, press releases, partnerships, and social media content to your brand’s mission of sustainability. Don’t make your customers go hunting for it, put that information right in front of them.

Increased focused on health and wellbeing

Consumers have become increasingly aware of their personal health over the past year, which is why brands need work to promote a healthy lifestyle. Whether your brand is focused on apparel or technology, including health into your marketing and branding is vital for customer retention.

Complete some workshopping on what your customer expectations are and how they’re looking to consume new content or products that might be outside your current offering, then find ways to incorporate these into your marketing and sales strategy.

Social commerce on the rise

Consumers are now going to social media to purchase products versus purchasing directly from online stores. While still a relatively new concept, outlets like Facebook and Instagram have their own marketplace features where consumers can browse and purchase products without having to leave the app. In fact in 2020, social commerce made up nearly4% of total eCommerce sales.

Customers use social media as a full shopping experience. From research to purchase, social media has become a major part of the buying experience since the beginning of the pandemic. There is more opportunity than ever for brands to succeed on social media.

Offer an omnichannel experience

Even though online shipping is on the rise, brick and mortar stores aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Consumers still enjoy going into a store, trying products, interacting with sales associates, or even just returning products in the store. Brands that offer an omnichannel experience will cater to a wider variety of customers post COVID-19.

With a returns portal like Return Rabbit, your customers can return their items in whatever way is most convenient for them. Interested in seeing how it all works? Watch a quick demo of Return Rabbit here.

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