You’ve probably, in these past few months, seen these terms more often than your next-door neighbour: Remote working. Click and collect. Distance learning. E-Sports.
But what do these terms all have in common? They are fast becoming our new ‘normal’.
Thanks to pandemic-imposed lockdown, more people are online than ever before, and the numbers keep growing. And as with all trends, there’s a good side and a bad side to this trend.
In this post, we’ll look at 3 top trends shaping eCommerce as society adjusts to post-pandemic life. And then we’ll also look at how online business owners can respond to these trends, to make the best of its opportunities and minimise inherent threats.
So what are 3 Top Post-Lockdown Trends that are shaping eCommerce?
The following are trends likely to linger long after lockdown has eased considerably:
Increase in cybercrime
According to a report by AtlasVPN, there’s been a 350% increase in active phishing websites since January.
Cyberattacks are a sign of the times, and as global economies prepare for a recession due to the pandemic, cybercrime rates are going to keep climbing.
Increase in online shopping
People are buying 10–30% more online now than before the pandemic, Engine reports.
There are speculations about how this would change when non-essential stores open. But if trends in places like China are anything to go by (where eCommerce is still on the rise even though physical stores have been open for a while), the steady rise in online shopping will continue.
Increase in mobile online delivery
According to the latest PYMNTS’ 2020 Remote Payments Study, in-store shopping using mobile phones rose by 25.2 per cent. Payment processing companies like Marqeta are seeing huge spikes in online delivery rates, most of which originate from mobile. Experts think this trend will also outlast the pandemic.
Increase in local traffic
Over the past two years, Google reported a 900%+ rise in local consumer searches. But then, with lockdown enforced, ‘near me’ searches mostly changed to ‘when will’ and ‘what is open’ searches. Now that lockdown is gradually easing, local consumer search is on the rise again, with specific search terms like ‘car dealers near me’ or ‘stores near me’ topping Google results.
As these post-COVID-19 trends continue, here are some Dos and Don’ts to help keep your online business in the game:
1. Don’t relax on eCommerce security
The worst is… passed?
Cybercrime skyrocketed as the pandemic progressed, with more people and businesses operating online than ever before. Online technology will become more dominant in the post-pandemic world. It’s also safe to say that cybercrime rates won’t slow down. Instead, cybercrime will become more advanced to take advantage of trends in online behaviour.
· Run frequent security tests on your e-commerce website to identify possible vulnerabilities.
· Carry out regular website security audits on your e-commerce website. Here’s some great info on how to do a website security audit.
· Install outstanding software updates or security patches on your computers.
· Change passwords every 3 to 6 months
· Only use tested and trusted third-party payment platforms like PayPal
· Hire website specialists if you think you can’t handle these tasks. You might eventually need one as your business grows.
· Copyright your brand name and logo.
2. Don’t over-rely on e-commerce software
‘There’s a plugin for that’
Are you fond of installing many different WordPress plugins to optimise your website? Then you are exposing your business to more risks because ‘98% of all WordPress vulnerabilities are plugin-related.’ I learned this the hard way.
In May alone, over 900,000 WordPress websites were attacked in a coordinated hacking campaign. As usual, the target was vulnerabilities in third-party WordPress plugins that haven’t been patched in months or even years. Such large-scale attacks will become the norm.
· Keep all your WordPress Core software, and all plugins updated
· Use two-factor authentication for admin access to your WordPress website
· Remove any unwanted plugins as they increase the hacker’s attack surface
· Subscribe to WordPress updates
· Consider skilled experts as an alternative to using a plugin. For example, instead of installing a plugin that can help insert a script in your header, do it manually. If you’re not confident enough, hire a web developer to help.
3. Don’t over-rely on security tech
‘You had me at cybersecurity tech…’
So you have the licence for the most advanced antivirus on the market, good. But that’s still not a licence to be one bit careless with your eCommerce security.
A few years ago, a PC online was the sole source of cyber risk and antivirus was your perfect protection. These days, there are more IoT devices than humans, and criminals are aware. They’ve designed malware that targets your computer, smartphone, router, iPad, smart TV, and even smart bulbs. The post-pandemic landscape will see an increase in IoT devices. And, unfortunately, most of these items cannot be protected with your standard eCommerce security product.
It gets even worse. Hackers can now hijack legitimate software and use them against you. So, buying fewer cybersecurity solutions can mean more security for your business.
· Plan how to protect any smart retail solutions or devices you may buy.
· Ask yourself before buying another cybersecurity solution: Is this a must-have? Is there a non-tech alternative to this product?
· Learn non-tech ways to protect your devices.
· Educate your employees on cybersecurity
It’s perfectly okay to have the latest Avast update — and still have a strip of duct tape over your laptop camera 😊
4. Don’t underestimate the risks of human error
‘What’s the worst that can happen’
Years ago, while working for an eCommerce company, a contract web developer on my team installed cracked WordPress plugins on the corporate website because management was taking too long to approve the budget. Less than 72 hours afterwards, the website was hacked.
In a 2019 survey on Security Risk, over 54 per cent of respondents pegged human error as eCommerce security risk number one — way ahead of Mr Hacker and Miss Malicious Insider.
A report on the cost of a data breach by the Ponemon Institute found that between 2018 -2019, the average cost of a data breach by human error was $3.5 million, while it took businesses over 242 days to identify and fix such issues.
· Hold regular meetings to make sure everyone knows how to stay protected online.
· Not all employees have to be WordPress admin by default. Give each person just enough access to get their job done.
· Have clear ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ about eCommerce security. Don’t assume anyone knows better.
· When anyone moves on, remove their user accounts, and change passwords for important accounts they had access to.
5. Don’t cut your eCommerce marketing budget
‘Do we really need that?’
The times demand that businesses engage their target audience more online — because that’s where most people are these days. So, it makes zero sense to cut the digital marketing budget — unless you’re going out of business.
Many businesses that depend mainly on physical visits went online due to physical distancing rules imposed by COVID-19. And this transition might be permanent, even as lock-down eases further. For more experienced online businesses, this will mean a fiercer fight for market share. New entrants taking advantage of online trends will only add to the competition.
· invest more in digital marketing channels; many competitors are pulling their marketing budget in fear — this is your opportunity to shine.
· Consider which digital marketing channel would benefit your business the most
· Invest in high-quality content
6. Don’t ignore online trust killers
‘Me nuh trust phone’
Last week I received a cold call from a brand. The customer rep was well-spoken and knowledgeable; their offering was exciting, and I was interested. Then she asked for my account details. That’s when my guard went up. I asked for a few seconds and turned to Google. Search results were mostly the brand’s name paired with scam/fraud in the same sentence. Zero social media presence. Zero contact numbers on their beautiful website. I hung up promptly.
Will your business succeed or fail? This now depends more than ever on customer trust. With online fraud on the rise, customers are more sceptical about online brands. They want to be endlessly reassured that their transactions are risk-free. So it’s now harder for a business to get away with having little or no social media presence, few payment options, and little contact information.
Basic reassurance elements (like social media presence, and HTTPS) are still essential for any brand. But advanced reassurance elements (like humanised online chat, customer reviews and, industry trust badges) will make a business stand out.
· Insert reassurance elements at every step of the customer journey on your eCommerce website
· Communicate more with your customers
· Offer relevant and informative content
7. Don’t overlook your website design
‘Danger! Useless website ahead’
According to Contentsquare, ‘55% of visitors are new to your site’.
With Covid-19 lockdown pushing more customers to online stores for the first time, these numbers are even higher. The number of people visiting mobile stores is still going strong and reports are also showing interesting changes in customer demographic — more elderly shoppers are going online, as quarantine restrictions keep them at home longer. This may result in long-term changes in their shopping habits.
The takeaway? You need to think about how your eCommerce website is meeting the needs of both new and existing customers.
· Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. A re-design with a mobile-first mindset may be necessary.
· Personalise user experience. Customers who are new to online shopping will appreciate strong similarities to your offline shop
· Consider ‘one-click’ features for repeat buyers
· Optimise your website (speed, SEO, functionality)
· Make it easy for customers to find your physical stores
Advances in technology make DIY easier, but if in doubt, it’s important to work with eCommerce experts to ensure things are done properly.
Do you need high-quality content that can put you one step ahead in the post-pandemic eCommerce game? Get in touch.