We're all in this together. The sentence that has become Buzzword #1 during the global lockdown often sounds cheesy and a bit over the top when used in a marketing context. In terms of e-commerce, however, it is one hundert percent accurate. Even if shops are slowly opening up again and a sort of everyday life is slowly returning, the shopping experience for customers is far from as easy-going as it was before COVID-19. That is why companies and retailers need to focus more on personal and authentic e-commerce solutions and - now or never - take the plunge into the digital world.

The Importance of Being Online

The share of e-commerce in global retail purchases has more than tripled in recent years. In addition, sales in digital commerce grew by 20 percent worldwide compared to the first quarter of 2019 as a result of the corona pandemic - by 14 percent in Germany alone. Even before the global lockdown, around a third of consumers already ordered products online at least once a week, 45% of 20-39 year olds at least once a month. In the past few weeks, these numbers have skyrocketed further and reached dimensions that are usually typical for holiday season.

The number of unique shoppers has increased by 40 percent since the beginning of the year, and older generations in particular are beginning to get into digital shopping more and more. While 67% of millennials already preferred online shopping as a sales channel before social distancing, 42% of all consumers are now certain that their shopping behavior will fundamentally change in the long term after the pandemic.

Benefits of an Online Shop

The main reason that retailers name when asked why they don't open an additional online shop, is that they already have good and close relationships with their customers and don't think they need another sales channel. At the same time, a strong 86% of those who decided to open one, say that the biggest advantage is being able to reach customers outside of traditional shop opening hours

In addition, the majority of online retailers agree that e-commerce and online marketing offer the opportunity to reach a significantly larger target group and offer customers more flexible shopping options. E-commerce is much more than just another sales channel. When it's done right, digital commerce also offers a platform that simplifies networking with customers, generates larger reach and boosts brand awareness.

Challenges of Establishing an Online Shop

Many retailers who choose not to have an additional online shop believe that their customers would not shop online or state that their products and services are difficult to sell online. Around 40% consider operating an online shop to be too time-consuming. An online shop cannot fully replace a traditional shop and that's not what it should be designed to do, but provides additional security whenever a regular shop cannot be opened as usual. Besides that, marketing via digital channels such as social media also offers the opportunity to stay in touch with customers apart from personal interaction face-to-face. 

Even though it might seem like it, an online presence does not have to be a huge project thats highly professionalized and runs for several years. A digital sales channel can also be set up for a limited period of time and be just as successful. The only important things are, according to consumers, a structured and straightforward design, personal and authentic content and a good adaptation for mobile devices.

Aspects to Consider Before Diving into E-Commerce 

More than a third of all consumers in Germany state they have received products from an online shop that did not comply with the depiction online at least once. In addition, 92% consider classic advertising to be less convincing and authentic than content from other customers.

User Generated Content reflects everyday life and present products in "action". Implementing this kind of content in e-commerce funnels helps create a shopping experience that is both highly personal and  informative. In contrast to classic product images, user-generated content (UGC) can show how one and the same product looks on a wide variety of people or in a variety of situations and thus offers particularly high potential for identification.

Especially in the current situation such a personal shopping experience is of great advantage. Since the beginning of social distancing at the end of March, interaction with the UGC gallery on the website of our customer Design Bestseller, for example, has more than doubled compared to the brand's overall average. When personal contact is reduced to a minimum, people crave more personal digital content. And while browsing through a picture gallery filled with impressions of other customers certainly does not replace a personal sales talk or interacting with other customers in a store, it provides great inspiration and a feeling of community among customers.

squarelovin’s UGC tool helps brands collect customer images based on mentions, hashtags or geo-locations, filter them according to individual preferences, legally secure their use and place the content on all relevant marketing channels. For each image and video essential usage rights are requested individually in accordance with data protection law. The effective integration of User Generated Content strengthens customer loyalty and significantly improves the performance of websites and web shops.

To learn more about squarelovin, click here to arrange a demo with one of our experts.