The past year has accelerated long-term changes to consumer habits, with traditional brick-and-mortar retailers repeatedly closing their doors due to COVID-19, border closures and recent state lockdowns. More than ever, businesses are moving online to survive these unprecedented times. 

As we look back, online sales were growing slow and steady at around 14 per cent YoY from 2016 to 2020. However, the first COVID-19 lockdowns across Australia saw a huge increase in growth of around 25 per cent in a two week period during March 2020. Additionally, online shopping saw a whopping increase in consumers buying online and leveraging pick-up services. Online grocery shopping also spiked, increasing by a massive 57 per cent

With the sudden surge in online shopping, accelerated by the pandemic and the shift in consumer behaviour during initial lockdowns, retailers needed to plan their next moves to maintain their business. Online shopping saw digital-first retailers respond to the consumer behaviour shift successfully due to already having omni-channels in play, however, in-store only retailers struggled.

Consistent digital experiences: moving in-store to digital 

Attention spans are decreasing whilst the evolution of technology increases. Recent data reveals that attention to navigating through websites and mobile browsing has dropped by 11 seconds from 2017 to 2019. Overall, the average time spent on websites before navigating away has decreased by 49 seconds for both mobile and desktop devices. This reinforces the need for a consistent and attractive digital experience across all touchpoints and content and visual assets to keep consumers engaged. 

All owned digital channels must provide a similar experience for the consumer, with tailored content for each channel. The individual channel experience can be similar to that of the user groups, adding to the tailored experience of the brand or company. Experimenting with the key features of these digital channels is essential, as this can balance with the changes in consumer behaviours. 

Online fashion retailer Missguided tested how consumers responded to different types of product badging using images and live text with alerting new products, items back in stock or special collections. Employing the successfully badging type saw an increase of click-through rates by a whopping 300 per cent.

The importance of high performing landing pages

First impressions count. As does the need for a high-performing brand landing page. The landing page serves as a solid foundation for the brand experience overall – think of it as the new in-store shopfront. 

An example of this is The Country Road group who saw a rapid 210 per cent increase in clicks for their anniversary promotion due to experimenting with digital features across their channels. With personalisation to mobile channels, they also saw an impressive 65 per cent increase in revenue from mobile sales alone.

Consistency is key. Consistent digital experiences and the importance of high-performance landing pages definitely go hand in hand for an attractive consumer and brand experience. Retailers need to send the same message across each digital channel, aligning with their current marketing approach, copy and campaigns. 

Leverage loyalty 

Consumers are loyal to brands that not only offer the products and services they need and want but to brands that create hyper-personalised customer experiences. With traditional brick-and-mortar retailers shifting online it’s important to ensure they provide the same personalised, tailored experiences consumers would receive in-store. 

Retailers like The Iconic target their shoppers by upselling, pushing forward other products to create the perfect ensemble outfit. If a shopper were to go in-store, the shop assistant would help assemble items that would match the outfit the shopper was looking to buy. These digital experiences can help create more personalised and tailored shopping experiences for customers bringing them back time and time again. 

Experimentation strategies continue to change the game for online retailers and are beginning to pave the way for those traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. With consumer habits changing and evolving, both pre-and post-pandemic, it is important to remember that these unprecedented times bring forth unique challenges and exciting opportunities. 

Simon McDonald is regional vice president for Asia Pacific and Japan at Optimizely.