There’s no denying that the Covid-19 global pandemic has changed the world of e-commerce. In our own personal lives as consumers, we’ve made shifts that were unthinkable just a couple of months ago. Sheltering in place, social distancing, and caring passionately about the health and wellbeing of our community are now an intrinsic part of our lives. Nielsen1 identifies six thresholds that consumers are moving through as they progress through the stages of this pandemic globally.
In many countries, we’re in the early part of what Nielsen calls the restricted living stage. E-Commerce businesses are already seeing a change in consumer preferences and shopping behaviors in this stage. While many of these are initially transitory, there’s no denying the fact that there will be permanent changes in how consumers interact with your brand, once your customers transition to the “living the new normal” stage. The new normal isn’t here yet, but it will be here - whether it’s weeks or months, once we start to venture outside again.
Inevitably, brands that make investments in technology today to reimagine the customer experience online will find themselves better placed for the new normal than those that do not.
Let’s examine some of the adaptations needed in your digital media tech stack to prepare for the new normal.
1. The online shopping experience has to be as visually realistic and as vividly detailed as possible.
As millions of people around the world are now working or studying from home, consumers have greater motivation to shop online. While everyone admittedly loves shopping in-store and we all love physically touching and feeling products, that’s simply not possible any more with malls locked and only essential stores such as groceries and pharmacies open. As we transition to living the new normal, some of these consumer shifts may be long-lived due to hygiene or health considerations, or even permanent. The only experience a consumer may have of your product, then, is what you provide on your product details pages. Already brands that use life-like detail on their PDP pages, with video, showing how the shoe flexes or the fabric moves, experience higher engagement, better conversions, and lower product returns. This trend started with lifestyle and fashion brands well before the age of restricted living, but hasn’t yet permeated to everyday essentials, consumer goods, electronics, and groceries. Simple images and at most spin sets worked for those products before, since there was some exposure to the product in-store. But in a world where the first (and often only) experience is online, that will no longer suffice.
Recommended adaptation: Modernize your product details page with rich video and augmented visual experiences. Cloudinary technology that can help: Product gallery with auto-responsive imagery, video and 3-D. Read more here.
In the face of adversity, consumer needs for products, and their ability to spend can change on a dime. While essentials like toilet paper, hand sanitizers and groceries were top of mind during the quarantine living stage of the current pandemic, eventually in the restricted living stage the focus changed to exercise apparel, educational aids for kids, craft projects, and even comfortable clothing. As economic uncertainties hit many of us, demand, supply and pricing all change dynamically. Your DTC channel then needs to be agile, ready to merchandise new products, re-price products, dynamically run sales and change visual messages and tone to adapt to consumer sensitivities.
Recommended adaptation: Ensure your e-commerce stack is built on a dynamic media platform for agility. Cloudinary technology that can help: Dynamic Media Platform for e-commerce.
In this new normal, brands will need to make many changes to ensure an authentic connection with loyal consumers. Many of these are outside the realm of the digital experience, for example, social responsibility, local origin, corporate citizenship. But there are a few changes possible in the realm of the digital media experience. One easy win is to engage consumers by enabling user generated images and video on your digital properties. This is the new normal that replaces the in-store social shopping visit, and, of course, this requires some form of automation to assist with moderation, image and video auto-cropping and enhancement for visual appeal - and many more digital considerations, including upload and delivery performance. But these are all technology investments that will pay off in the long run.
Recommended adaptation: User generated image and video content on all your digital properties (not just social media channels). Cloudinary technology that can help: AI cropping of videos and images, Dynamic media platform
We’re living this now. Marketing, creative and development teams are no longer co-located, they’re all working from home, juggling kids, pets, staying healthy, and working. There will be a time when we all return to offices, but something will have changed forever. Increasingly, teams will ensure they are retooling to ensure more efficient workflows that enable truly globally distributed collaboration. Now is the time to invest in cloud-based technologies to manage your digital media assets centrally and create a single source of truth that is ideally suited for asynchronous team collaboration, with better tools to ensure that repetitive media management tasks are automated, so they don’t require long round-trips to your creative or tech teams, thereby reducing bottlenecks.
Recommended adaptation: Implement a modern, organization-wide digital asset management system. Cloudinary technology that can help: Dynamic digital asset management
Whatever your tech stack might be - whether you’re a WordPress and WooCommerce shop, or use Magento, Shopify, or Salesforce Commerce cloud, many of these technologies have their own, though somewhat limited, media capabilities. Integrating a best-of-breed media platform across your stack will pay rich dividends in customer experience wins and consistent brand imagery that looks good and loads fast on every screen.
Recommended adaptation: Integrate a media management platform across your tech stack. Cloudinary technology that can help: WordPress and WooCommerce plugin, Magento plugin, Salesforce Commerce Cloud cartridge.
As consumers start to navigate in the near future through the stage of restricted living to the new normal stage, technology is a way forward for both consumers and businesses. Consumers are expecting better and richer digital experiences in the new normal. Brands that invest in their DTC competency today and deliver new experiences will be better prepared to connect with consumers in the new normal.
- https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2020/covid-19-tracking-the-impact-on-fmcg-and-retail/ ↩