The pandemic made us question everything we know, both in business and our private lives. Where handshakes turned into fist bumps, office meetings turned into zoom calls. Some employees from the same office have never met in person.
Social scarcity aside, abundance in means and time changed how we interact and spend, with fewer visits to the brick and mortar stores. COVID-19 completely rerouted the shopping and delivery paradigm, resulting in a drastic rise in e-commerce.
So, how drastic are these figures? According to the National Retail Federation, the pandemic helped accelerate e-commerce, with online and non-store sales increasing to $969.4 billion, or 22% of total retail sales in 2020. For 2021, it is predicted that e-commerce will grow between 18% and 23% to as much as $1.19 trillion.
And it seems that not only the numbers have grown. New circumstances led to new consumer types. In 2020, NielsenIQ identified four distinct consumer groups that emerged as unemployment numbers soared:
NielsenIQ’s Global New Shopper Normal Study found that only 9% of global consumers were regularly shopping online before the COVID-19 pandemic. But as we-know-what happened, online adoption skyrocketed, with 27% of global consumers starting to shop online for the first time.
COVID-19 also had an effect on CMG, thankfully in a good way. Although it left us longing for office coffee and casual talks, it brought us more work. We have seen a 35% increase in eCommerce related projects in Q1 2021, compared to the same period last year. Insights and information were acquired faster, with a roughly 30% increase in the number of new retailers in our database.
Client requests started to focus more on conducting content audits and receiving recommendations, developing shoppable assets, and creating custom solutions instead of the basic templated asset production that happened previously. What used to be creating one-size-fits-all global content turned into fast locally-specific deployments.
Our e-commerce asset storage doubled at the end of 2020 vs. the same period the previous year and we’re not planning to stop there.
As the pandemic continues, new challenges arise. Latest trends aside, there are still many unanswered questions. One thing is sure, though; online shopping platforms are not anymore only the checkout points of a particular few. They have become information centers for many; a place where we get the facts, evaluate and compare, buy and advocate. As many experts say, we’re not talking about a purchase funnel anymore — we’re talking about a cylinder.
Although all of this brings more complexity into the game, it also offers new opportunities. It is up to the brands to recognize, seize, and ultimately monetize this fact. As for us, we need to turn this adversity into a positive force that gets us safely out of the woods, and who knows, maybe we'll start shaking hands again.