The accelerated growth of ecommerce is breathtaking to witness firsthand. It’s a seismic societal shift happening before our eyes. Of course, the move toward online retail was already in full swing before the pandemic, but there were some businesses that were holding onto the old ways. Now they simply can’t – it’s not even up for debate.

If businesses want to survive, they must shift their mindset, adapt and modernise.

The numbers support my stance, with lockdowns resulting in both businesses and consumers adopting digital more swiftly, providing and purchasing more goods and services online than ever before. In fact, a 2021 report found that the share of global retail trade attributed to ecommerce increased from 14% in 2019 to about 17% in 2020.

This rapidly changing retail landscape clearly presents some significant challenges. However, by fostering the right mindset, retailers can uncover opportunities and achieve lasting success.

Understand the real needs of consumers

Consumer behaviours have changed drastically, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. As they seek greater convenience and value, it’s estimated that over 60% of global consumers have changed their shopping behaviours.

Recent research illustrated that 91% of people in India and 82% of people in China have taken up new shopping behaviours – such as shopping at a new retailer or trying a new brand since the pandemic started – with over 60% of them intending to stick with their adopted behaviour.

Despite many regions reopening, it’s clear that much of the global population is still reeling from the effects of lengthy lockdowns, resulting in a shift to value and essentials.

So, more than ever, retailers must be in touch with their customers and in tune with their needs if they are to reach them effectively.

Rethink consumer experience

While similar products can be found in various online stores, consumers focus on the overall experience and convenience for example check-out process and delivery time. More importantly, consumers are more attracted to brands that strive to make the world a better place and align with their values. For instance, are the brands taking actions that reflect societal values or meeting new societal needs and drive impact?  Consumers are not necessarily loyal to a particular brand because of the price tag anymore, but to the experience and value.

Brands are risking their futures if they only focus on the sales numbers, instead of seeking out and captivating consumers with an extraordinary experience. A carefully designed service experience is the real competitive advantage for organisations to truly engage with consumers and sustain the brand’s longevity.

Take some of the world’s most well-known, enduring brands such as Canon and Nike, for example. They’ve actually moved away from selling their products on marketplaces where people can get their products faster, in order to continue delighting them with their flawless consumer experience journey.

Destination has become secondary to the customer journey: quality of experience is what drives customer retention and determines consumer loyalty today.

Redefine your business with the “Inside Agency” model

Ecommerce success stories have shown how experience is everything. Uber, AirBnB and others are redefining product and service categories through a new commerce mindset, which is delivering a service experience that consumers come back for. The opportunity for businesses from all sectors today is how to bring that same commerce-minded approach and experience to their operations and deliver a comparable experience.

However, over 70% of customer experience leaders struggle to design projects that increase customer loyalty and achieve results, while 95% of business leaders believe customer experience teams must deliver a superior or world-class customer experience.

Brands often struggle to meet the demands of the market because they lack the specialised resources that allow them to react and scale quickly. The solution requires another shift in mindset, and a revolutionary way of working: The Inside Agency model.

The Inside Agency is a new business management strategy that promotes agility, enabling brands to react rapidly to the changing demands of consumers. Bespoke, expert teams are built around the specific needs and objectives of a business, allowing them to scale and grow the business at speed from the inside.

This approach creates project teams that are extremely flexible. It ensures greater collaboration, transparency and deeper strategic alignment. By tapping into the ecommerce industry experience and resources of a specialist agency like eWave, retailers can assemble custom-built teams and solutions without the traditional time consuming, expensive hiring and onboarding processes.

Whether it’s capability or capacity challenges, the Inside Agency model is responsive to change and enables businesses to add the required skill sets as and when they need it, while remaining independent and in control. It’s a de-risk strategy and a real defense game for business leaders to protect the organisation from any crisis, scenario or unprecedented change.

Whatever the future holds, one thing is clear: the right mindset and adaptable business model will make sure retailers are ready. Ready to change, ready to grow, and ready to thrive.

Fatima Said is co-founder and managing director at eWave.