Looking back to look forward: the pandemic and eCommerce success

eCommerce a year in review

2020 was certainly a year of upheaval. For eCommerce businesses, it opened up new opportunities with consumer spending online shopping reaching $860 billion! Going forward, eCommerce businesses can continue to thrive by being aware of and responsive to the new normal for retail.

The numbers on eCommerce growth

Digital Commerce 360 reports retail sales actually increased by the rate of 6.9% in 2020, reaching $4.04 trillion. But that doesn’t mean business was booming at traditional retail outlets. In fact, the declines there were offset by the fact that 101% [not a typo] of retail gains came through online sales.

“This is the first time in history that eCommerce sales accounted for all retail sales gains,” notes Digital Commerce 360.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) observed how the landscape of online shopping was reshaped by the pandemic in E-commerce in the times of COVID 19. Online shopping had been gaining ground steadily, but once the pandemic struck, demand for eCommerce surged, and that level is likely to remain in place.

The OEC relates that in the United States, eCommerce’s share of total retail spend had been increasing at a gradual pace leading up to the pandemic, growing only from 9.6% of total retail in 2018 to 11.8% in the first quarter of 2020.

That rate accelerated much faster once COVID19 was recognized in the United States when many states imposed lockdown orders and shoppers considered it safer to shop from home. As a result, between the first and second quarter of 2020, the share of eCommerce jumped to 16.1%.

Digital sales had only been projected to hit 15% in 2021. But with unprecedented growth, online purchases in 2020 amounted to $861.12 billion in the United States, according to Digital Commerce 360 estimates, due to  44% year over year growth.

Shifts in demand 

What eCommerce customers bought online depended on what point in the year it was. Seller Engine reports that in the spring and summer, they sought “outdoor and camping goods, gardening products, hunting equipment, and pet supplies.”

Customers shifted their attention “to luxury items, educational toys, high-end make-up products, and home comforts” during the year’s final quarter. It’s understandable that some of this is related to the seasons.

When it’s warm and inviting outside, people were interested in the things that would help them enjoy the great outdoors, particularly when indoor attractions were generally closed. However, once it was time for back to school and then the holiday seasons, people were thinking about what would be needed to feel better about being inside their homes for school and the holidays.

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Shifts in devices and channels

The clues for the shift would be there for the businesses that were attuned to their customers’ signals coming through their online behavior. To pick up on that, they need tools that take a read beyond site activity, with the insight available on the Remarkety platform that connects

Customers connect in many ways now. In a survey by HBR (Harvard Business Review), 73% of respondents said they use multiple channels during their shopping journey. That includes email, SMS, MMS, social media, as well as searches on the site.

The challenge for retailers is maintaining coherent and consistent communication that makes the most of the different ways of connecting. A Facebook or Instagram ad may be what first grabs the customer’s attention, though they may need some follow-up to convert to the level of putting together a shopping cart with an email or MMS message that offers personalized recommendations.MMS Marketing

The most successful eCommerce businesses use a multi-channel approach to drive more conversions and sales. They integrate direct messaging through email and SMS with strategic social media ads. Remarkety makes it all work seamlessly.

The emails you have through Remarkety can nearly always be used to identify your customers on social media. Using that customer identification, you can create customer segment lists for effective retargeting.

Retailers who give themselves the Remarkety advantage can seamlessly link up their text messaging to their email and social marketing campaigns to be able to reach their customers on their preferred device and in their preferred channels.

Boosting sales and revenue through recommendations 

An MMS or email message that shows shoppers what they looked at or similar items that would be of interest increases traffic, conversions, sales, and revenue. The conversion rate for the online shopper who responds to a recommendation is 70% higher per session than for those shopping without the recommendation, according to eMarketer.

Customers prefer shopping where they get personalized recommendations. “Shoppers that clicked a recommendation were nearly twice as likely to come back to the site” reports Salesforce.

In addition to following up through recommendations for products based on what the customer looked at for browse abandonment or for different products based on segmentation derived from lookalikes, there’s another type of personalized follow-up that’s essential for eCommerce.

Abandoned cart recovery across devices 

Depending on which study you look at, between 50 and 70% of online shoppers abandon carts. Bringing back even a fraction of those by inviting them to complete their purchases with a click-through an email or SMS can make a huge difference in boosting sales and revenue.

All eCommerce businesses seek to reach out to customers who have abandoned carts, but some cannot do so successfully because they are incapable of connecting customer behavior across devices. To effectively have customers revisit their abandoned carts, you have to accommodate their shopping across all devices they use, whether they shift from their phones to their PCs or vice versa.

If they can’t pick up their cart on the other device, they are much more likely to abandon it. That’s why Remarkety introduced the game-changing Remarkety’s Cross-Device Cart Recovery.

Customers who put items in the cart on one device say their phones, can finish checkout another, say their laptop, without having to search for their selections again or even logging in. Remarkety automatically pulls in all their selections as added to cart, regardless of browser cookies, session login and/or device.

When your customers are primed to buy, whether they switched from their phones to their desktops, or from their notebooks to their tablets, they can retrieve their carts instantly. That removes the friction and effort that can make a customer give up on a purchase.

To get the most value out of  Remarkety’s Cross-Device Cart Recovery, set up automated abandonment emails or text messages with a call to action to just click to instantly finalize their purchases even if the cart was built on another device.

The same messages may also be sent via SMS and email, depending on your customer’s preference for communication. It can be effective to alternate between the two for a dual-channel approach.

You can set up rule for automated response through Remarkety with a rule to send out a cart abandonment message after an hour has elapsed, followed by an email within 10 hours, then a follow-up text after 24 hours, and another email after 36 hours, followed by a text 48 hours from the abandonment.

Remarkety makes it easy to recover abandoned carts, personalize product recommendations, and reach your customers across channels. That translates into more sales and revenue for your business.

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