How the Pandemic has Shifted E-commerce Behaviors
Consumer preferences have changed as a result of the pandemic-era transition toward e-commerce. For most retail brands, online services have evolved from a value-add to a key client touchpoint. The role of virtual customer service, as the primary channel for customer interactions, is at an all-time high.
Customer service in e-commerce introduces new problems and stresses. To begin with, at-home consumers are spending more time online before making purchases.
Before making a purchasing decision, 81 percent of respondents conducted online research on the commodity. This figure reflects a fourfold improvement over the pre-pandemic average of just 20%. Furthermore, the study discovered that customers now spend an average of 79 days online collecting information before deciding on a product or business for major purchases.
Customer service must be a company’s top priority in an increasingly interactive and curious world. With more time on our hands and more commerce taking place on our screens, that number has only grown. In 2017, approximately 93 percent of customers said online feedback affected their retail decisions; with more time on our hands and more commerce taking place on our screens, that number has only grown. Retailers can no longer afford to make mistakes when it comes to the consumer experience online. It’s not a sales technique to ensure a healthy virtual interaction; it’s a survival strategy. And it’s become even more crucial in the COVID age.
A few digital service strategies that every virtual retailer requires are mentioned below.
Since timing is everything, technology is being used to improve speed.
The Internet’s culture is instancy. We’re used to waiting in lines at big shopping malls, but no one wants to wait for virtual assistance. When the clock hits 7 p.m., e-commerce retailers face a peculiar challenge: they can’t quite “close the virtual doors.”
Retailers are overwhelmingly turning to chatbots for customer service solutions to eliminate virtual wait times and address this current round-the-clock demand. Artificial intelligence is used by chatbots to communicate actively with customers through email, web page messaging, or over the phone. Throughout the pandemic, the use of chatbots grew as retailers realized how much money they could save by automating client management. Chatbots make it easy to receive payments, process orders or returns, and provide customer service to potential customers — all without missing a beat.
As a result, the latest report from Business Insider should come as no surprise. They estimate that consumer retail spending through chatbots will reach $142 billion globally in the next three years. They also discovered that about 40% of Internet users prefer interacting with chatbots over other support systems such as virtual agents.
A New Consumer Standard: Technology for an Integrated Experience
E-commerce is distinct in that it can be conducted from any place. Brands can’t always assume that their customers are at home, seated in front of full-screen monitors, with their website perfectly displayed. Consumers often engage with a brand’s website on their mobile phones when going about their daily lives. However, according to Statista, only 12% of customers find their mobile commerce experience to be convenient.
The virtual revolution is placing fresh pressure on retailers to boost their customer service at all consumer touchpoints, and there’s obviously more work to be done when it comes to phones. Retailers who have kept investing in CRM (customer relationship management) solutions, on the other hand, have found themselves in a stronger position to handle COVID-era demand. Retailers can track their customer experience across all channels with integrated CRM systems, which combine in-store data with online purchases, chatbot interactions, social media activity, and email campaign performance.
This not only helps have a dependable customer experience by keeping their data secure and consistent across different touchpoints, but it also has the added advantage of funneling all critical data into one central location. Orders are filled faster, returns are processed faster, and owners have all the data they need to fuel their ads.
What We Know So Far About Technology for Targeted Marketing
With so much information coming in, digital marketers are experimenting in a variety of ways. The use of augmented reality has proven to be one of the most effective techniques so far. The big COVID-era problem is solved by augmented reality (AR): how can I trust a product if I can’t see it in person? Smart marketing departments figured out the approach quickly. AR interactions can imitate the look of furniture in a living room, the size of pants on a particular frame, or the color of lipstick on a customer’s face.
Retailers with immersive, 3D product displays have posted a 40% higher conversion rate. AR is taking the guesswork out of online shopping, and it’s already paying off for them. Statista estimates that the virtual reality market will hit 2.4 billion users by 2024, implying that retailers will not want to give up their higher sales anytime soon.
Finally, and rightly so, smart marketing departments are emphasizing personalization as a leading sales technique. Every online shopper may ‘walk’ into a completely new, virtual storefront, which is something we could never replicate in shops. By tailoring product reviews to the preferences of online shoppers, customers are more likely to find something that appeals to them right away. Making customized offers entails predicting a browser’s preferences based on past transactions and on-site behavior, which is another challenge that artificial intelligence has made much easier. Customization would be a cornerstone of post-COVID trade, reshaping market preferences.
Retailers can use chatbots, integrated CRMs, and smarter data solutions to handle their e-commerce demand. Increased data from online purchases will help marketers be more strategic, and investing in augmented reality appears to be a safe bet. However, in the end, the customer will still have the final say; retailers’ post-COVID survival depends on them prioritizing the (virtual) customer.