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E-Commerce Continues to Power Through the Pandemic

POSTED. July 08, 2020

Keyboard with shopping cart button.

Outside. The newly crowned terrifying unknown. 


Is it certain death? No. Is it easier to click and order your next pair of shoes than huffing heavily through a mask and keeping distance from everyone else in a crowded store? Yes.


In the last three years, online shopping has been picking up pace like a car from a Fast & Furious film. Is factoring in a pandemic like adding turbo-charge or slamming on the brakes? It depends on the category. First, let’s zoom out.


E-COMMERCE AS A WHOLE

According to a recent Statista report, US online retail sales of physical items reached $365 billion in 2019. The same report predicts sales to keep climbing to $600 billion by 2024. However, this prediction only pertains to a normally operating world. Which is not at all where we currently reside.


Since the closures of shopping malls and other physical stores, online retail is expected to get an 18% bump on the year. While this creates opportunity for online sellers, it won’t fix the inevitable spending freeze that occurs during a recession. Take a gander at the projected graph below.

 

E-commerce sales are projected to increase year-over-year.

 

SUCCESS IS IN CATEGORIES

Now let’s zoom in tighter and pull out some golden nuggets. A quick pulse check shows brick and mortar isn’t looking so good, at least for the immediate future.. People are spending less frivolously but still shopping online. This begs the question: what are people buying online these days?


A detailed report by eMarketer.com reveals staggering numbers in certain categories. Food and beverage sales climbed up 58.5% and health/beauty/personal care rose by 32.4%.


Analysts at eMarketer say that certain online categories have suddenly and permanently launched three to four years in the future in only a few months. 


It doesn't take a marketing expert to realize that essentials such as online grocery delivery are seeing profits nothing short of gargantuan. The magic is finding the next shift in consumer behavior, be it essential or non-essential, and creating an offering to meet demand. Or, even driving demand. 


DOING SIMPLE THINGS BETTER

One obvious, but often overlooked, method for converting more sales is to place your product in the shiniest, most irresistible light possible. Anyone who has been in digital marketing or e-commerce for long enough knows that consumers interact with photos and videos more than anything else on a website. Investing in better product photography and videos at the get-go can result in consistent pay off for months to come. 


Just pop over to Loeffler Randall, an NYC-based shoe and handbag label. The items on their website aren’t simply well photographed. They are elegantly staged and carefully curated. Browsing through the photos of a simple tote bag gives you an intimate feel for the fabric and how it looks on someone’s arm. Furthermore, the content is consistent with the colors and tones across the entire website, which neatly ties all the pages together.


As consumers reign in their obsessive shopping habits amidst economic turmoil, standing out among competition and nailing simple marketing techniques will be more crucial than ever before. Unless a consumer can see why they should purchase a product and all of their objections are swiftly negated upfront, they will be less motivated to click “add to cart.”  


For videos, you don’t have to summon your inner Christopher Nolan and be overtly cinematic and excessive. A couple swooshy stabilized clips give an authentic feel for how an item looks and feels in a particular space. In turn, this helps consumers imagine the item in their own space.


Photos, videos, design, and layout are all easily adjustable techniques for boosting engagement and locking in higher conversions. What about paid search, ads, and boosted content? Is it worth it to keep up spending during a time when consumers are fickle and tougher to sell to?


KEEP SPENDING ON ADS

Research suggests the answer is YES. Let’s talk ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). While there was a slight downtick in e-commerce movement in June, compared to last year’s stats, the industry is still on the up and up.

This graph from the StackedMarketer.com newsletter does all the talking. 2020 ROAS is in red, hovering comfortably above 2019 by a cool 22%. 

Return on Ad Spend chart showing better performance projected for this year compared to last year.


A global pandemic isn’t proving to be a stroll in the park for any industry. It might not be turbo-charge for online purveyors, but it’s certainly not a slam on the brakes either. While many industries are crashing and burning, e-commerce has steered clear of the wreckage and continued cruising toward another year of growth. 

 

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