The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world beyond recognition. Many countries, including the Czech Republic, have introduced strict measures that have prevented people from leaving home. Shops not considered vital were closed. Customers, locked up in their flats and houses, had to change their behavior, whether they wanted to or not.
Life is slowly restarting, but nothing will be the same as before. It's time to seewho emerges victorious from the quarantine.
Digitalization in prime
E-commerce and digitization have helped businesses reduce losses and, in some cases,even grow and strengthen their market position. Changes became most visible in the online grocery segment. This is no surprise. You may argue brick-and-mortar grocery stores remained open during the quarantine, but the adjusted opening hours and the inconvenient shopping with masks and mandatory social distancing definitely didn't suit everyone.
On top of that, leaving home was often considered risky. The home office and closed restaurants have inspired many people to start cooking at home everyday. Some have even taken challenges such as baking homemade bread. In the USA, for example, sales of home bakeries increased by 652% compared to March 2019. All this has caused an increase in demand for groceries.
In the Czech Republic, we can consider online supermarkets Košík and Rohlík as the winners. Through Rohlík’s NakupBezpečně.cz marketplace platform traders offer their goods from brick-and-mortar stores online, so the customers can safely buy their favourite products even from the small street shops. As it turns out, in case of emergency and with a little bit of initiative, the digital transformation can happen in a matter of days.
The trend of increasing online purchases is obvious and many customers probably won't return to their original behavior after the end of the crisis. If companies want to keep their customers or even acquire new ones, they have no choice but to invest in e-commerce and digitization.
Personalize, or die
Let's not forget e-commerce has its specific rules. When you go shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, you usually choose the nearest one or e.g. the one you pass by when returning home from work. However, this naturally doesn't matter with the e-shop. The “nearest” e-shop is the one on top of the customer’s mind. This phenomenon called the mental availability of the brand was described in detail by Ehrenberg-Bass Institute.
We can't even rely on buying extra goods while walking between the shelves. The e-shop allows everyone to search online, find and buy intended items only,and, moreover, easily compare prices with the competitors.
So, the quality of merchandise, the level of targeted offerings, and the simplicity of purchase come to the fore. When acquiring customers, CX and the ability to approach the customer on a personalized level becomes decisive.
With the little bit of A.I. help
If you want customers to spend in an e-shop at least as much money as in abrick-and-mortar store, personalization using A.I. is absolutely necessary.
Focus on offering relevant products and personalized recommendations supported by a simple and smooth flow from selection to payment and delivery. Be prepared e-commerce in the near future will not only represent abonus in come but will become a fully-fledged pillar of revenue diversification in case of abrupt events as was the one that started a couple of months ago in China.