Online Shopping Was 2020’s Most Popular Sales Trend
In 2020, E-Commerce witnessed a substantial change.
The year 2020 was a buzz for eCommerce in America. From the rave of panic shopping and the scarcity of toilet paper to QSR’s chicken sandwich brawls and abundant bankruptcies. From famous businesses like Neiman Marcus and the Brooks Brothers to staple shopping centers like J. Crew and JCPenney.
In all of this, 2020 remained an exceptional year for retail giants, Walmart, and Amazon.
As predicted, curbside pickups for groceries sourced online became the new norm in no time, even though earlier that year, Amazon had a momentary struggle with adjusting to changes in demand from shoppers. Amazon was also challenged with employee fallout’s and protests when the in-house remarks about staff Chris Smalls were made public. 2020 also saw the unveiling of a Counterfeit Crimes Unit to weed out fakes and the filing of hand-picked litigation’s against bad performers for Amazon.
More Amazon highlights included the opening of their first fresh grocery store with smart shopping carts, the launching of their prescription delivery option, a Congressional debut by CEO Jeff Bezos, and Prime Day becoming a pre-holiday season event in fall.
2020 also had highlights for Walmart. It recorded Walmart+, its debut membership program, differing product and service reviews, partnership with online commerce platform, Shopify, to build a third-party sales ground, and to give social commerce a trial run with trend-maker, Tiktok. Walmart also held online summer camps, hosted drive-in cinemas and, for families isolating, organized socially distant trick-or-treating.
For Walmart, the crown of their 2020 highlights was airing their first-ever in-game Super Bowl ad.
With all of these, 2020 retail was a lot more than Walmart and Amazon wins and brands filing for bankruptcy. Takes from experienced analysts on 2020’s most popular topics were compiled, and the following is what piqued their interests in one of the most unstable years the eCommerce industry has ever seen.
Without a single doubt, the most popular trend is eCommerce’s exponential growth.
Debut eCommerce predictions from media company GroupM stated a “new plateau for newly accelerated future growth.”
Shop+ lead and executive director, Jeff Malmad, revealed to internal research that in comparison with pre-pandemic times, 44% of the older generation and 62% of the younger generation are getting involved with eCommerce now more than ever. Shop+ is media agency Mindshare’s division that deals with eCommerce and retail.
In the same vein, Amazon seller platform Jungle Scout CEO, Greg Mercer, noted that in the third quarter of 2020, 34% of online shoppers bought a lot more even with the dip in their total expenditure.
As expected, he crowned Amazon the champion because a survey showed that in the third quarter, 25% of online shoppers shopped at Walmart.com, 26% at Target.com while Amazon got 70% of the total online shoppers for 2020.
According to Mindshare China’s International Accounts MD, Audrey Low, the gear towards eCommerce and other already existing shopping trends like curbside pickup and in-store stock sync with other eCommerce sites, is here for a long time.
She added that “rather than acting as a change agent for brands’ long-term strategies, Covid-19 served as an accelerant, ensuring that three-year business growth and transition plans were put into action in just six months.”
The move to omnichannel remains
Yet another hot trend from 2020 was the hinge of online shoppers on omnichannel retail. In October, we witnessed a live example of this as Walmart publicized its test stores created to be technology’s real-time experiment for the eventual conversion of all 4800 of their stores into consumer-to-business shops doubling as online fulfillment locations.
Principal analyst at Gartner, Matt Moorut, contributes that “a lot of brands and a lot of retailers turned some of the local stores they had into mini distribution centers [in 2020], which puts them in a better position for 2021 than they were going to be otherwise.” He adds that “from the retail perspective, the functionality to actually be able to deliver this… wasn’t necessarily in the roadmap coming in.”
Customer Loyalty is available for the taking
Transferred customer loyalty – An added development in 2020.
Consulting company, McKinsey revealed data that in the pandemic, 36% of retail shoppers patronized a new business and 73% of them plan to add products from those businesses into their newly created routines. On one hand, the new brand trials were borne due to attainability during the general shortage of merchandise, but on another hand, it shows the clear peculiarities between habit and loyalty, and the reason consumer information including background data, is important to businesses. It is also the reason a couple of giant brands unveiled their direct-to-consumers platforms and why Walgreens and similar retailers titivated their loyalty packages to contend better.
An executive, name withheld as he has no authorization to comment, disclosed that in 2020, the access to curbside delivery and contactless payment services highly influenced customer loyalty.
He added that “I don’t think once everybody’s vaccinated that that’s going to change a whole lot. Retailers are going to have to offer really creative pickup options [to retain loyalty].”
Brand content now curates the norm
2020 was indeed the year of content from brands with many shoppers bored at home with nothing to do. Malmad notes that buyers constantly search for content from businesses and eCommerce vendors.
Malmad also remarks that “not just promotional messaging, but inspiration on how to use what you have and make the best of the new normal. We’ve seen brands put forward programs or messaging around different holidays in particular to help people update their holiday traditions in light of the pandemic.”
Head of Solutions and Services and Senior Vice President at Digital Marketing Agency, iCrossing, Brendan Moorcroft, agreed with Malmad, stating that parent company Hearst saw “a pretty big change in behavior” in the consumption of their content by shoppers after the establishment of government-mandated lockdowns.
“There was the host of changes in behaviors, like … people were starting to recreate cocktails that they weren’t able to go out to [and] getting back to basics [like how] to cook at home,” Moorcroft said. “And so they were looking for guidance on how to do that and then buying the products that followed. Then there was more of a comfort food phase. All of those habits and behaviors were very different from when restaurants and stores were open completely.”