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The ecommerce revolution is here to stay
With shoppers unable or unwilling to hit the high street, the traditional shop-till-you-drop scrum of the January sales seems an unlikely prospect. Instead, consumers will have their browsers and apps poised to search for bargains online.
This is only the latest impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to research quoted by Retail Times, which reports on retail trends, 61% of Brits report shopping more online during the pandemic. It’s expected that this rapid increase in ecommerce will have added £5.3bn to UK ecommerce sales by the end of 2020.
Online sales surged more than 50% during the first lockdown. The growth rate has stayed above 40% ever since.
Online retail association IMRG
Planning for a different kind of year
It's not just that the volume and value of online purchases have exploded in recent months; the nature of online purchases has changed. Consumers are readier to buy big-ticket items online, such as furniture and electronics – significant purchases that they would once have expected to touch and try before purchasing. IKEA's online sales surged 45% over the 12 months to August, driven by 4 billion visits to its website. Many of those online shoppers will be unable or hesitant to return to the in-store experience.
So whether life generally gets back to something resembling normality in 2021 or not, we can say for sure that online sales have become an integral part of retail. There is no going back. Even discounter supermarket Aldi, which has steered clear of ecommerce in the past, is noticeably ramping up its online offering.
This means that ecommerce organisations are looking at a new kind of retail calendar for 2021. The traditional high points of the retail year will move online: the January sales and the Golden Quarter of Black Friday, Cyber Weekend, Christmas and Boxing Day, as well as the additional traffic generated by major product launches and seasonal spikes in trade.
Give every customer a good experience
This seismic change in online consumerism means you cannot assume that all your prospects and customers are using the latest desktop, laptop or mobile.
Any company targeting the mass market needs to branch out and test its app or website on a range of devices and browsers, not just the most recent, to ensure that everyone has a satisfactory, bug-free experience that flows logically.
You de-prioritise testing on older devices and browsers at your peril. Using an older device may say something about your customer’s spending priorities, but it is not a reliable indicator of their spending power. Ignore these customers and the ecommerce opportunities created by the pandemic will pass you by.
Our new, downloadable guide offers tips on managing peak periods in the ecommerce calendar and ensuring your own seasonal spikes in online traffic go smoothly.