Imagine if you will, you are in Santa Cruz, CA and you are feeling a craving for pizza. Your friends recommend you to try out this new way of ordering pizza through the web. Amazed at hearing this you decide to give it a shot when you get home. After waiting a few minutes to log on you find a website called PizzaNet. You maneuver through the website’s options, order a pizza, and to your dismay, the order number arrives at your doorstep a little bit later. After finishing your pizza you sit back and marvel at how easy that was and how far technology has come.
What’s most fascinating about this made-up story is that PizzaNet is actually Pizza Hut when they opened one of the first online deliveries services ever. This website design was built over 26 years ago! Browsers were barely able to support inline images at that time let alone have options to order online.
In the past 20 years retail has undergone its biggest transformation. The birth of the internet in the 90s plus the popularisation of mobile devices in the following decades have transformed the way we shop. There is even created a contactless option for delivery now!
Since then the idea of online ordering has been implemented into companies all over the US and the age of online shopping has begun. Immediately after PizzaNet had some success, Amazon.com launched its online shopping site in 1995, and eBay was also introduced in 1995, and the rest as you say it is history.
Impact of COVID-19 on What to Buy Online
Flash forward to today gone are the clinky load screens that would take an hour to figure out. Customers are less worried than ever about what to buy online with trusted security being implemented. With the rise of Amazon, other big-box retailers like Walmart, Target, and Apple are leading the way in how they handle contactless customer care. This has left most local stores struggling to stay ahead of the curve. With the power of the internet growing more every day being able to establish a website that provides the same customer care as a face-to-face experience is important.
Since the beginning of COVID 19, we have seen a spike in people taking their spare time to start those side projects. With people being stuck at home, it has led to new and creative ways to improve things around the house. Home Improvement has gone up 21%, with Landscaping & Gardening increasing to a 17% growth, while Home Decor and Exterior Improvement have both respectfully gone up 10% as well.
Apart from general retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay, the three categories of Home and Garden, Food and Groceries, and Sport and Outdoors are the ones showing the most significant growth in traffic during this time at 40-50% YOY. People want to stay busy during a pandemic and now is the perfect time to always do that remodel you’ve never had time to do.
While the idea of starting an online business has been around for quite some time there are some fundamental rules to implement if you choose to move your business online completely.
Pick Up In-Store is Convenient and Saves Time
Convenience is the key to success for businesses when it comes to winning a consumer over. With online stores being available 24 hours a day, and many consumers in Western countries have Internet access both at work and at home. Other establishments such as Internet cafes, community centers, and schools provide internet access as well.
While delivery is still an option for those that don’t want to make the effort to drive into town, there are other options as well for those who don’t want to pay for any added shipping fees. Stores offer options such as pickup in-store or ready for pickup have seen steady growth over the years. With a most recent spike in this arena due to Covid-19. Local stores that have been willing to make their systems as convenient as possible for the customer when it comes to checkout will always win in my book.
For example, Walmart has added a key shopping feature to its online store function. By adding in a customer profile when signing up, you can start favoriting items that you have purchased. How it works is the profiles save items you have purchased or favorited and saves them. After favoriting, say, Pop-Tarts, Pop-Tarts will then appear on the top of every search for “breakfast.” Thus the next time the customer needs to go shopping they can find those same items will pop up first, making it easier to purchase again when reaching the checkout page.
FAQs and Reviews
When looking at online stores consumers are first looking at the product page. This holds product descriptions, photos, and multimedia files to best inform the customer on what the page will be trying to sell.
If they have any questions on eligible items for sale, most sites will offer customer service or a pickup email that customers can use to contact them if they have any pertinent questions. Most retailers will also have the return policy page set in stone for store associates to refer to for any frequently asked questions.
When it comes to having online customer service online stores have instilled real-time chat features, e-mails, or phone calls to handle customer service questions. The beauty of moving online is that store hours can make your business open 24/7.
While your employees may be gone, their work inboxes will still be getting notification emails from customers with an inquiry. If it’s about order details or what stock items you might have your customer service team can get right back to it the following workday immediately.
This leads to reviews. Reviews are important as it allows an outside source to give an unbiased opinion on their experience while at your store. They might answer any faqs other customers may have. Reviews and blogs give customers the option of shopping for cheaper purchases from all over the world without having to depend on local retailers.
The better the review for your place the better the chance you will reign in those first-time customers. Studies have shown that consumers are likely to spend around 31% more on products and services from businesses that have excellent reviews backing them up!
Price and selection
Another advantage of shopping online is being able to quickly seek out deals for items or services provided by many different vendors. Don’t let someone else pick what types of deals you can use. Search engines, online price comparison services, and discovery shopping engines can be used to lookup sellers of a particular product or service.
Take control of sites like BuyVia and Shop via are but just a few apps you can use to find the best lower price that you need when shopping. When reaching checkout these apps will search for coupons or sales to automatically help lower your savings.
Contactless Delivery or Curbside Pickup options
When placing an order online, the last step is choosing a shipping option. Online stores will offer to ship directly to your house(with shipping fees) or offer ready for pickup in-store. These have become the standard options when finalizing an order online. Depending on the store location one option will be better than the other. Once the credit card info has been placed. The customer will receive an order confirmation email letting them know the order has been received.
Now choosing between having your items delivered the next business day and having them available for day pickup comes down to the customer. Free shipping comes into play here, but most stores can’t offer that. Or if your store sells bigger items it can be easier to just pick up in-store.
Local stores that have implemented curbside pickup have tailored this service to help compete against larger corporations. It can be a simple process to set up within any e-commerce system. Rather than paying shipping fees and waiting a few business days for a package to arrive, you can have it waiting at the local store ready for pickup. Nothing beats that free store pickup!
Post-COVID 2023 and Beyond B2B Ecommerce Trends
Since we first published this article, things haven’t just stopped there. We’re still seeing a trend of businesses turning to e-commerce sources to fulfill their needs. Again, it’s conditioning that has taken place since the pandemic that has helped consumers and businesses alike see e-commerce ordering as simpler and more efficient. It is almost as if retail has come full circle from the days of the general store where the customer would tell the owner what the order was, the store clerk would pick the order and deliver to the customer on the spot. Take a look at these projections from InternetAdvisor for online stores consumers.
Moving online can be a daunting task when you are starting from scratch. But research has shown that it can be a wonderful addition to your business. With all the options out there, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. However when in doubt, don’t be afraid to reach out. At wtg marketing, we will always be here to help give the answer the faqs with facts to help be successful.