Not only can retailers make up for some revenue losses by enhancing their ecommerce capabilities, but they can also attract new online customers. As with brick-and-mortar stores, meticulous attention to every detail of the customer journey is what will keep shoppers coming back for more.

Chemi Katz, CEO and co-founder of Namogoo

Lockdowns have eased and businesses have begun reopening. However, with social distancing guidelines still in place and many shoppers skittish about returning to brick-and-mortar stores, retailers face a summer unlike any they have seen before. 

As COVID-19 cases continue to spike in some regions, sparking fears of new waves of contagion, the near-term future of shopping is digital. Over the Memorial Day holiday, fashion and apparel brands posted a staggering 380.0% increase in online traffic compared to Memorial Day 2019, with conversions soaring 335.0%. Those figures tell an important story that retailers would do well to heed: Not only can they make up for some of the revenue losses by enhancing their eCommerce capabilities, but they can also attract entirely new cohorts of online customers.

How can retailers seize this opportunity and weather the summer shopping storm? Here are five ways they can elevate their digital presence and win—and keep—customers.

1. Understand the consumer profile

The COVID-era surge in online shopping isn’t simply a tale of existing online consumers upping their digital spend. As the pandemic scrambled daily routines and forced billions worldwide to shelter in place, many traditional offline shoppers became converts to ecommerce. A consumer survey released in May found that 14.0% of Americans shopped online for the first time due to COVID-19, while 56.0% reported increasing their online shopping spend.  

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To effectively engage both first-timers and ecommerce veterans alike, brands must understand their sensitivities and priorities. The May survey highlighted key trends for retailers to bear in mind: Fewer consumers are making purchases via mobile apps, with only 27% opting for app-based shopping over retailers’ websites. Not surprisingly, given the economic toll exacted by the pandemic, 51.0% said they were highly price-sensitive.

Perhaps most important: Online shoppers are highly susceptible to distraction. 53.0% of consumers said they would likely click on an injected ad for competitor promotions while shopping online.

2. Control and perfect the customer journey

For retailers to keep shoppers on-site, a frictionless online experience is imperative. 

If brands lack actionable data capabilities, many valuable insights are bound to slip under the radar, undermining their ability to tailor the user experience and jeopardizing millions in revenue. Data is about far more than understanding the profile of each shopper to visit a retailer’s website. It’s also essential to observe how consumers behave online, tracking trends in user behavior, detecting anomalies and glitches, and analyzing traffic flow. Is the checkout abandonment rate troublingly high? Are ads diverting users to competitor sites? Which referring sites or ads directed users to the retailer’s site in the first place?

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Especially for retailers experiencing unprecedented surges in online traffic, these insights are an absolute must.

3. Keep competitors off your site

By eliminating the virtual onslaught of pop-up ads and banners from competitor sites, brands can make big revenue gains while delivering a significantly improved customer experience. 

Although many users are diverted to competitor sites because they’ve downloaded extensions or apps, the overwhelming majority of online shoppers are unaware that that’s why competitor ads pop up on their devices, assuming that the site enables these nuisances. One-fifth of online visitors are affected by these ads, underscoring the extent of the problem and why it’s critical for retailers to block unauthorized injections.

4. Personalize from start to finish—and beyond 

People may not be flocking to their favorite physical stores this summer, but they still expect the same friendly, personalized service they’d receive shopping in-person. With 84.0% of customers saying that being treated like real people—not mere numbers—is key to securing their purchase, personalization isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s paramount.

By harnessing consumer data, retailers can personalize incentives to spur customers to complete purchases, calculate each shopper’s propensity to convert, and determine which incentives are most likely to work. What a shopper sees when she visits a retailer’s site—and how that brand engages her in email campaigns, ads, and any other outreach—should directly reflect her unique needs and behavior.

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5. Prioritize customer service 

Replicating the Main Street shopping experience isn’t just a matter of personalization. 

It’s also about offering best-in-class customer service. Brands should ensure that they have the customer service capabilities to address any problems efficiently. In light of ongoing supply chain challenges and the growing pains of such a sudden spike in ecommerce activity, speed bumps are inevitable – but when brands demonstrate that their customers are their top priority, it builds loyalty and trust.

As with brick-and-mortar stores, meticulous attention to every detail of the customer journey is what will keep shoppers coming back for more. In the era of COVID-19, consumers have no shortage of options for online shopping at their fingertips. To stand out, companies must put the customer experience first.

Namogoo’s technology prevents unauthorized ads from diverting website visitors to other websites.

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