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eCommerce & COVID-19

How to Build a Site that Can Handle a Sudden and Monumental Buying Shift

COVID-19 lockdowns have brought full or partial workplace closures to 81% of the world's workforce. With the closing of schools as well, entire families have been homebound, which has opened the floodgates to online shopping. It’s no wonder average daily in-home data usage soared by 38% year over year (YoY) in March. The global pandemic is causing some eCommerce sites to see Black Friday-level traffic volumes every single day. If we’re learning anything from this upheaval, it’s that eCommerce should no longer take a backseat to in-person commerce. For the foreseeable future, eCommerce needs to take the wheel.

 

Right Now, Your eCommerce Capabilities Are Your Superpower

While online retailers usually have the luxury of prepping for months to meet the demands of holiday surges like Black Friday, the global pandemic took us all by surprise. Very few companies were already geared up for continuous floods of traffic, with an eCommerce platform capable of intelligent search and Cloud server capabilities ready to handle such large volumes. Companies that had strong eCommerce sites before COVID-19 were poised to support existing customers when social distancing and shelter in place were introduced. They were also able to gain new customers just by being up and open for business.

ECommerce has reportedly saved many retailers from bankruptcy at a time when foot traffic is discouraged or absent. As of March, over a third of US consumers expected to increase spending on goods from online marketplaces as a result of the pandemic. From January 1 to April 30, 2020, at GroupBy we’ve seen huge growth in search volumes on items such as toilet paper (↑ 4855%) and hand sanitizer (↑ 3424%, down from a March peak of ↑25365%). No one should be surprised by these numbers, and these popular items can be found on a countless number of sites. The point is that, no matter what you’re selling, you need to ensure your search and product discovery – in fact, your entire customer experience – keep customers buying from you.

 

In a Perfect World, What All Good eCommerce Platforms Should Do

ETL (Extract, Transform and Load)

Invest time and energy in the data upfront. From data conversion, record joining and format correction to data modelling and calculations, start with data that is pristine and integrated.

Data Enrichment

Normalize and standardize product data, making it clearer, more detailed and more relevant for shoppers to improve findability and conversions. Classify your products into standard, well-understood groupings that make sense to your customers, add valuable attributes and check for completeness and accuracy so search results are dependable. Data enrichment can enable you to define your attribution strategy for current and future catalogs throughout your entire supply chain.   

Enhanced Search Functionality

Incorporate enhanced search functionality and machine learning to deliver highly relevant and personalized onsite experiences for your customers. Search enhancements, such as search as you type (SAYT) and search recommendations, help improve relevancy, reduce hidden inventory and boost navigation engagement. 

Analytics You Can Use

Optimize your merchandising strategy with actionable insights from user searches, including conversion and exploration scores, click-thru rates (CTRs), add-to-cart rates (ATCRs), conversion rates (CVRs), null searches and top navigations. Understand how shoppers interact with search results, identify under-performing searches, get insights to inform promotion strategies and monitor their performance with tracking codes.

Finally, to accommodate unexpected surges in traffic you need an eCommerce platform with a secure and stable web server to ensure uninterrupted uptime and quickly scale to handle increased loads. This will ensure that users receive responses such as requested pages faster and that large volumes of traffic coming in at the same time won’t cause your site to become overloaded, slow down and even fail.

The global pandemic forced a shift to online purchasing quickly and without warning. We can help you build a site that thrives in this sudden shift in buyer behaviour and beyond. Many of the world’s leading online retailers rely on us to continuously improve their customer experiences and increase revenues, with data enrichment, ETL, intelligent search and analytics capabilities. Want to know more? Contact us to start the conversation so we can solve your eCommerce website challenges.