Last month we moved the Vancouver Web Design Meetup online.
The Meetup took a webinar format with the topic “How website design and eCommerce is helping brands adapt to a changing landscape.”
We had three panelists discuss how businesses are using the digital medium to stay relevant with social distancing and altered consumer behaviours.
Here are some key takeaways and the webinar recordings:
Part 1: Changes in the Website User and Their Buying Behaviour
Presenter: Melody Shih - Graphically Speaking, VP, Operations & Creative
In her talk, panelist Melody Shih from Graphically Speaking outlined ways the pandemic is changing buyers’ purchasing behaviour and how companies can adapt their websites to accommodate those behaviours. She offered insights as to what businesses must pay attention to, not only today, but down the road, as some consumer behavioural changes will be permanent.
Your Online User Has Changed
One takeaway is that companies need to adapt their websites to serve entirely new user groups. New users will include an older persona, individuals that have become open and motivated to use technologies like video chat to stay in touch with families and friends.
This same group has recently discovered the convenience of ordering groceries and other consumables online. Prosper Insights & Analytics found that 30% more consumers plan to shop online in the future and 28.3% of those consumers are individuals that are age 65 and over. This demographic represents 6.6 million potential new customers in Canada, which is a sizable group.
Adapting Web Design for an Older Audience
With such a sizable customer segment, designers need to understand older audience needs and employ best practices for user experience design and function when they create interfaces for older audiences, this can include:
- Adding subtitles for video or audio content
- Increasing colour contrast overall
- Designing with minimum 16px fonts for legibility
- Using simple gesture states to avoid problems with dexterity
- Including a chat help feature to guide new users
By designing sites to meet this demographic’s unique needs, users can experience a seamless and enjoyable online session; businesses that apply these standards will likely see repeat sales from loyal customers.
Our Habits Have Changed
For one thing, consumers are discovering new and different brands.
Ipsos Research found that 25% of consumers tried a new brand or product due to the unavailability of their regular brand. Scarcity has forced consumers to look elsewhere. Nationalism also plays a role, as these days Canadian consumers are more interested in buying their products from local Canadian businesses.
The Interconnected Customer Experience
The pandemic has rapidly accelerated digital transformation, blurring the lines between physical and digital to the point where the customer journey, whether online or in-store, is interconnected. This omnichannel transformation with consistent merchant’s services across all touchpoints and channels is what customers expect from the companies they transact with.
Convenience and Contactless Buying
Convenience is an essential element of the online shopping experience.
Innovative convenience features have popped up as a result of recent social distancing norms. Text messages alert customers of an order’s arrival or shipping status. And it’s become a standard practice for businesses to provide curbside delivery or the option to have free in-store pickup, making it easy and safe for customers to interact with physical stores.
We’re seeing the health profession adapting to virtual care as physicians use chatbots and real-time video apps to diagnose or even treat their patients.
"Prosper Insights & Analytics found that 30% more consumers plan to shop online in the future and 28.3% of those are individuals 65+ This demographic represents 6.6 million Canadians 65 years and above represents 6.6. million."
Part 2: New eCommerce Business Landscape
Presenter: Sergio Taddeo - Graphically Speaking, E-Commerce Director
COVID -19 has proven to be the defining event for online commerce. Our next webinar panelist, Graphically Speaking’s ecommerce director, Sergio Taddeo, investigated some of the ways that businesses can engage and retain shoppers.
Unprecedented Online Sales Numbers
Online sales in April and May of this year jumped to $153 billion, which is 7% more than all the sales that were made during the Christmas season, and a massive 77% year-over-year increase compared to 2019.
Activities Driving Sales
Growth in Product categories that support stay at home activities; like bread makers, food products with long life spans, and essential consumables like cleaning supplies, over the counter medications, and grocery items are lifting sales and profits. Meanwhile, traditional apparel, luggage and travel related sales saw the steepest declines since the 2009 financial crisis.
We’ll see more innovators succeed, as witness the industrial mutation that Joseph Schumpeter described as the “gale of creative destruction” where efficient and innovative new businesses rise to overtake or replace old businesses.
Companies Pushed to Offer eCommerce
Given the current conditions and limitations inherent to social distancing if sellers’ businesses are to succeed, they need to attract new customers and keep the clients that migrated from offline to online shopping. This always comes back to providing customers with an easy and positive online shopping experience.
Sergio outlined some of the reasons customers shop online, and there are many:
- online enables 24/7 shopping,
- it’s easy to compare prices or read reviews
- it saves buyers time and eliminates having to travel to a shopping destination
- it’s convenient and safe to make a purchase from one’s sofa.
Of course, there can be issues associated with online shopping; high shipping costs, excessive delivery wait times, lost or stolen items, and unclear or unfair return policies, to name a few.
"Good companies will meet their customers’ expectations and deliver exactly what their customers expect to receive with products that look the same as advertised. They will also clearly spell out their policies for shipping and returns, doing this inspires trust and fosters brand loyalty."
Knowing that customers prefer to see and touch products, online businesses can emulate a sensorial experience by displaying 360-degree product images and videos, this offers the user control and a more realistic view as to how the product looks.
Showing products in their context can also give the customer a sense scale and how the product will fit into their environment. E-commerce sites incorporating many filterable and searchable product attributes on their product detail pages, e.g. showing part numbers, brand, available finishes, materials, dimensions, spec sheets and more, empower customers to make more reasoned and confident purchases.
Part 3: New Business Models
Presenter: Matt Boland
Senior Manager, Partner Programs - Global SMB at Magento, an Adobe Company
New up was Matt Boland from Adobe Magento. Matt wrapped up our webinar with practical tips on future proofing one’s business.
Matt described some of the new business models with companies driving sales by offering a wider range of products --in fact more products than their brick and mortar stores sell. These products can be bundled and grouped to generate higher average sales per transaction. Companies are also offering subscription models, so their customers don’t need to worry about running out or reordering products.
B2B x B2C eCommerce Practices
Matt noted some buying methodology insights and a shift in B2B e-commerce practices, as B2B’s are taking lessons from the B2C world and incorporating personalization and user-centric website experiences that support standard buyer practices.
Amazon was discussed as an additional sales channel opportunity and a means to control one’s brand by offering pricing, shipping, or other value incentives that can distinguish the brand from Amazon resellers.
To help businesses navigate the rapid digital transformation that we’ve seen in the past few months, he shared an essential B2B business goals checklists. Adobe Magento created the list so B2B businesses know how to address the complexities of ecommerce, improve operational efficiencies, enhance the customer experience, and grow sales.
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