Although most businesses that moved quickly to offer customers a simple and seamless online experience during Covid lockdowns are winning the online race in 2021, online shoppers are becoming even more demanding, according to CEO and founder of ecommerce organisation, B dynamic, Jam Pathirana.

B dynamic is an industry leader in assisting businesses drive growth through online sales and fulfilment services and Pathirana has over 25 years of experience in brand distribution, product sourcing and channel development globally.

“Shoppers are becoming more online savvy as each day of COVID goes by. In short, they know what they want and if brands don’t deliver, they will go elsewhere. Online businesses need to weaponise elements of their service in order to survive and thrive,” he said.  

Pathirana has outlined five key things online shoppers want in a COVID and post-pandemic environment.

  1. Incentives to purchase

“As more businesses move online, consumers are being inundated with special offers, discounts, codes, and more. Incentives to purchase are key to winning new business.  If a consumer has a number of buying choices, they will often select the one that gives them the best type of reward for purchasing,” Pathirana said.

“Businesses need to ensure they have captivating incentives in place to capture new customers.  These need to be sufficiently enticing to lure them away from other sites.  Once a new customer is on board, you are able to continue marketing to them with special offers and other deals.”

2. More ways to pay including crypto

Online shoppers also are looking for more and different payment options on mobile and desktop sites including the ability to purchase using crypto.

“With a sharp rise in online fraud and scams during the pandemic, shoppers need to feel safe and be able to pay using a platform they trust,” Pathirana said.

“Payment facilities such as PayPal and Apple Pay are widely trusted by online shoppers on an international scale, providing a frictionless checkout experience. In addition, many online businesses are providing shoppers with the option to save their payment details for a fast and easy checkout.

“Online businesses that offer tech enhancements normalise the checkout experience and reduce the fear of fraud, making consumers more likely to buy from their site.

“Payment options that include crypto will attract a different type of buyer. The latest research shows that one in four people in Australia hold or have held crypto. My advice is, be innovative and offer different and interesting solutions. This will generate support and a strong customer following.”

3. Simple returns policy 

According to Pathirana, return policies and processes are as important as sales policies.  

“Online shoppers do their research before they buy and often, they will compare return policies as part of the consideration process,” Pathirana explained.

“Shoppers return products for a number of reasons – change of mind, doesn’t fit or wrong colour. It is important to ensure you have excellent return policies and processes in place as this will set you apart from your competitors.”

4. Instant customer service through different avenues

Online shoppers are all different with some preferring to chat over the phone, while others like to send emails, and some want immediate help in the form of online chat.

“In 2021, businesses need to offer shoppers the ability to access customer service via a number of different methods and some of them must be immediate,” Pathirana said.

“Consumers are used to getting their information online fast and they want to receive assistance just as fast. Providing instant customer service will help to win customers ahead of your competitors.”

5. Fast, cheap and reliable delivery  

When it comes to online shopping, the biggest differentiator is delivery.

“Shoppers want the fastest delivery possible, and the online business that provides this type of service will win the business,” Pathirana said.

“Online shoppers want the fastest, cheapest and most reliable delivery possible with highly visible tracking capability. Speed of delivery is the new ‘compete’ weapon and you’ll annihilate your competition.”