Ecommerce insights: how to succeed in the ‘new normal’

Ecommerce: an industry transformed

Let’s be blunt – the coronavirus changed everything. A generational event that has forced Gen X-Z to lock horns with humanity, its effects are still impacting the world and will for years to come.

In ecommerce, the pandemic made us time travellers. Changes expected to take years happened in months, weeks and even days. Everything accelerated. Now, we’re entering the industry’s new normal: consumer behaviour has shifted away from the past and businesses are attempting to catch up.

Today, shoppers who never went online now only do, people who don’t want to go out can order in, and mobile apps and webshops are the new norms. Buying online isn’t just more convenient, it’s also safer. In turn, businesses are becoming more adept at selling online, using technology to create simple, stress-free experiences for customers, and using data to understand their online behaviour better than ever before.

During the pandemic, ecommerce companies survived challenging conditions and the industry has taken a big step forward, creating greater accessibility to products and services. The next question: how to stay ahead now that everything has changed?

The rise of online shopping in Europe

Let’s quickly look at Europe, a big player in the global ecommerce industry. It boasts a GDP per capita far above the global average and an average internet availability of more than 90%. But, in some countries – such as Russia and Italy – only around 60% of the population has shopped online. The reasons are generally either technological or cultural – In Italy, for example, the social side of shopping means brick-and-mortar stores are more in demand.

This is changing. Ecommerce adoption has increased almost everywhere as people move online. Russia, for instance, saw rapid ecommerce growth during the pandemic and is quickly becoming an online powerhouse. This has created an opportunity for online retailers, who can leverage increasing acceptance (and enjoyment) of the online experience to grow their business. But how?

Staying competitive in a rapidly evolving industry

As buying habits change, retailers must rethink how they sell. We’ve seen this already, with businesses closing their physical stores and moving online, or giving renewed attention to their direct commerce strategies. Take Swedish clothing company H&M, which has shut stores in its most mature markets while expanding its online business.

Technology is also helping retailers to sell in new ways. Many brands are investing in new technologies to bridge the gap between their physical and online stores. One example is augmented and virtual reality, which was vital to helping shoppers visualise goods during the pandemic when they couldn’t physically touch or try a product out in stores.

The coronavirus also accelerated the conversation around sustainability. The positive environmental effects of lockdowns fuelled a desire to do better for the planet. Across Europe, 72% of consumers now want retailers to be ecologically sustainable, and 75% are willing to boycott companies or brands that contribute heavily to global warming. Within retail, consumers now pay close attention to how products are packaged and shipped. They also actively seek information about retailers’ actions, their products and how they treat employees.


Why versatility is more important than ever in ecommerce

In our experience, being adaptable is paramount. Now more than ever, online retailers must be ready to reshape their strategies in line with consumer demand. Working with hundreds of thousands of companies across Europe, Mollie CCO Ken Serdons has seen the successes a versatile, growth-focused mindset can bring.

“Ecommerce today is about much more than just the online store,” Ken explains. “Customer experience is key, so companies should aim to deliver a remarkable brand experience across all touchpoints. That means – among other things – seamless personalisation, sustainable shipping, conversational commerce and leveraging cutting-edge tools to excel.

“Thankfully, these things aren’t out of reach for small and medium-sized ecommerce companies. Thanks to changing commercial models, advanced tools can be ‘rented’ at a small proportion of the previous cost, while payment service providers can deliver a world-class payment infrastructure. And, by combining all of this, you can ensure you’re delivering a truly personalised, exceptional experience for your customers.”

Ken Serdons

Though it’s impossible to predict the future, one thing is clear: more people are shopping online than ever before. And these shoppers are purchasing across multiple online channels, whether it’s mobile apps, websites or social media. To take advantage, brands need to adapt to meet changing demands and make sure they iterate their online offering to maintain a competitive edge. Regardless of what comes next, putting the customer at the heart of your business to deliver outstanding service will always guarantee success.

Mollie’s mission is to empower companies of all sizes to grow. We do that by providing an effortless payment product that boosts conversion with a custom-branded checkout that offers all local and major payment methods. Easily integrate Mollie with your website and onboard quickly with no minimum costs, no lock-in contracts, and no hidden fees. Find out more about payments with Mollie.

*Source: Internet Retailing 2021 Global Ecommerce Report*

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