A massive acceleration in online activity has been one of the most obvious changes to consumer behaviour during the COVID-19 crisis. Whether or not consumers revert to old habits and choices will depend on whether the new experience is a good one or not.
With increased comfort levels for online shopping, forced trials of new brands, and wider consideration sets available online, how do you ensure your online strategies are optimised for this new reality?
“If shoppers who normally choose your brand have been forced to try other brands, how do you win them back?”
Four ways to win online
- Optimise omnichannel strategies for search and purchase
How will familiarity and reliance upon online search and purchase affect long-term behaviour and in-store buying habits? Which channels, triggers, and touchpoints will be more or less influential?
The COVID-19 disruptive change in behaviour requires a reassessment of omnichannel search and purchase strategies.
Forced brand substitutions resulting from the COVID-19 crisis are likely to prompt more deliberate information-seeking. For example, we see consumers turning to social media for social connection, but they’re also seeking referrals for new products and services. And we expect mobile voice search via digital assistants to be used more often for in-store research, such as comparing prices and searching for broader product choices.
Consumers will demand a more sophisticated, seamless, and integrated omnichannel experience in order to satisfy their needs.
Tip: Consider how you adapt your consumer journeys and product promos for an evolving omnichannel world. Can you use geofencing and/or push notifications on shoppers as they enter brick-and-mortar stores?
- Optimise digital content for conversion
The acceleration in online shopping and research has been one of the most visible changes that has occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether or not the choices that consumers make during the crisis become a new habit, understanding online consumer behaviour will be increasingly important in the future.
What type of content and visuals are best at grabbing consumers’ attention?
When you know which stimuli maximise click-through and add-to-basket rates, you can develop content that attracts, engages, and converts consumers online. To effectively optimise content for online retailer sites, consider the following:
- Category or search pages: Does your content have enough stopping power? Are consumers able to find your products?
- Product detail page: Is your content engaging? Does it clearly communicate the product offer? Would it convince consumers to buy the product?
Tip: Develop research-informed guidelines for your digital content (e.g. headings, images, videos, and text). Consistent guidelines help make digital content creation more efficient, effective, and benefit your retailers as well. And don’t forget to make sure your content is optimised for mobile.
- Optimise your online assortment and pricing strategy
As online competition intensifies, assortment, pricing, and promotions will be key. You’ll want to retain new customers gained through a crisis-driven forced trial, as well as win back formerly loyal customers forced to try your competitors. Speed and agility are key.
To optimise your online strategy, we recommend you:
- Optimise your assortment by channel. Consider which bundles, packs, or configurations will drive sales through online retailers vs grocery store websites vs brick-and-mortar stores. Determine how shopper behaviour varies between click-and-collect services and subscription services.
- Know which promo formats are most effective. Coupons may drive conversion on one site, while multipack offers have more impact elsewhere.
- Identify the impact of pricing and pricing format on consumer choices. Unlike in-store shopping, price format plays a surprisingly important role online. You should uncover what holds true for your products.
Tip: Ask yourself if you have the right tools to achieve an agile pricing and assortment strategy. What are your data sources? Do you have access to shopper simulators that can help you create ‘what-if scenarios’?
- Build a mobile-first, digital research toolbox
To win online, you must first uncover what truly drives online decision-making for your brand. Unfortunately, popular online retail and comparison sites don’t readily share behavioural data on consumer activity. An online shopping simulator can help you understand how consumers search, filter, and shop online in a replicated online environment.
Use a simulator to test your online product communications, assortment, pricing, ads, and promotions in a safe and secure environment – and get specific, actionable insights and guidelines as a result.
With so many significant behavioural shifts taking place, you may be wondering what the omnichannel marketplace will look like from one day to the next. You are not alone. In uncertain times, the most effective branding decisions will be rooted in solid, behavioural data.
By Michael Hetherington LinkedIn, APAC Director at SKIM