Ecommerce trends in a COVID world

As COVID-19 leaves us scrambling to piece together a new normal, in-person shopping is becoming less of a reliable source of revenue for merchants and service providers.

Indeed, recent data from TechCrunch indicates that department store purchases are expected to decline 60% in 2020, while online buying increases 20% the same year.

Those statistics should be sobering for the brick-and-mortar crowd, even as some might insist traditional surges like Black Friday can keep the lights on. However, our own research suggests otherwise.

According to original statistics from GoDaddy, 52% of people shopped in a physical store on Black Friday in 2019, yet only 30% expect to this year​.

For web professionals like designers and developers, it’s a signal to expand the offerings. Even if ecommerce is unfamiliar terrain, it’s time to get familiar with the trends, and then have a discussion with clients about adding a space to manage transactions from the safety of the internet.

Let’s take a look at the direction online shopping is headed and how the conversation might shake out with clients

Ecommerce & the new normal

That expected 22-point drop in shoppers hitting retail outlets this Black Friday might make it seem like people are less willing to spend during the holidays.

But that certainly isn’t the case, as our research suggests an increase in online transactions that nearly offsets the shoppers fleeing in-person stores.

We found 60% of people say at least half their holiday shopping would be done online, compared with 43% last year.​

That’s just the tip of a big, big iceberg.

When you look at the overall adoption of ecommerce, the upward trend is remarkable. According to Adobe Analytics, U.S. online sales in September 2020 increased 43% year over year, reaching $60.4 billion.

Web professionals should channel their inner Rick Grimes and prepare for what’s to come. Ecommerce isn’t a flash in the pan, nor is pandemic awareness. The sooner clients launch online stores, the sooner they can get on the road to that new normal.

An ecommerce site that sells

We just reviewed data that builds a strong case for getting into ecommerce. Still, some web professionals might remain iffy about entering an entirely new discipline, one that’s established and comes with high expectations — both from clients and their shoppers.

During the course of our research, we found 92% of small-business owners felt the appearance of their website affected sales.

Ecommerce needs to be approached with the same keen eye for design and functionality. Clients notwithstanding, shoppers expect their online shopping experience to include the cool features found elsewhere on the web.

Our research indicates 82% of U.S. shoppers are less likely to buy something from an online presence that’s unprofessional or dated. Six in ten of them say they’re “disappointed” when they go to shop and don’t find a sleek, modern website.

No pressure, right?

The ecommerce crowd is a tough one, but, fortunately, technology has kept up with their expectations. Today, it’s easier than ever to stand up and perfect an online store.

The easier way to set up ecommerce

There’s a reason WordPress now powers more than a third of the internet. It lets you do just about everything — and ecommerce is no exception.

That means web professionals with a solid grasp of WordPress can use the same skillset to make brilliant onlines store, using these basic components:

  • gTLD domain — Don’t scrape around for one of the more common domains. Instead, a gTLD like .store or .shop can help you stand out.
  • Hosting account — Might seem obvious, but be sure to compare providers’ prices, uptime, and ability to handle traffic surges.
  • Current WP install — Grab the latest install from WordPress or download it from your dashboard if WP is already installed on your server.
  • Ecommerce plugin — Rather than laboring to build out ecommerce functionality, a plugin like WooCommerce handles much of the heavy lifting.
  • SSL certificate — SSL is generally required to accept payments online. It encrypts data and prevents bad actors from eavesdropping on transactions.

Requirements may vary, but those are the basics. Keep in mind, it can be kind of a pain finding quality products individually, at a price that works with the bottom line.

The better bet is bundling everything with one reliable provider who makes it easier to manage products (and might even have them on sale).

Also consider a managed solution for WordPress. It can save tons of time when it comes to things like website monitoring and running updates for themes and plugins.

Closing thoughts on COVID & ecommerce

It’s easy to fear a new normal because we don’t know what it looks like yet. But somebody once said something about being like water, focusing our energy into the paths of least resistance.

The numbers don’t lie — it’s only going to get harder to exclusively transact in a brick-and-mortar capacity.

Be like water, but also be like Rick Grimes. Don’t be the obstinate one going, Should I act? Naw… or maybe. I hope everything will be okay.

Encourage clients to start now on a plan to address trends produced by the pandemic.

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