Although Amazon, for one, was already a trillion-dollar enterprise before the pandemic, COVID-19 has still had a profound effect on online business. Quarantine concerns drove countless consumers — even the once-reluctant — into the digital arena, and they’re seemingly here to stay.
Even as vaccines roll out globally, a recent survey showed that customers intend to continue — and even increase — using:
- Online/mobile financial services (banking, insurance, mortgage, stocks, and more) = 59%
- Mobile payments (to both service providers and friends) = 45%
- Curbside pickup = 36%
- Online/mobile beauty and/or fashion shopping = 34%
- Ordering for delivery from local grocery, department, and other stores = 28%
- Contactless payment for in-store items = 24%
- Online health and medical services = 21%
So what changed? The pandemic and its restrictions brought consumers into the digital realm, but what’s convincing them to stay, even when lockdown restrictions have eased?
Having now experienced banking and other financial services online, customers have realized that digital transactions are not — as previously believed — less secure than traditional means. Electronic security frequently offers added layers of protection and control, from the technological to the personal (like the ability to check accounts all day, any day).
The influx of e-commerce customers has naturally prompted and enabled the acceleration of e-commerce technology, from improving ease of use to broadening and deepening options and capabilities. This retains and attracts even more consumers, creating a cycle of growth.
Curbside pickup is a perfect example of something that seemed unnecessary before COVID-19 — why go online and then to the store when you could just go to the store? Now it’s seen as a best-of-both-world solution, blending the speed and safety of online shopping with the instant gratification of getting your purchase in your hands without needing to wait for delivery.
Beauty and fashion may seem like hard sells online — with customers unable to try color, fit, and feel — but augmented reality is increasingly being used to address that issue, while consumers are coming to rely on the fact that brand reputation is more crucial online than anywhere.
A unifying element behind all these factors has been customer experience (CX). With great CX, companies identify and provide the security and technology consumers need while delivering the convenience they want, building the confidence that creates lasting brand relationships.
‘Customer Experience Trends, Challenges & Innovations’ 2021 CCW market study, Customer Contact Week Digital