5 Takeaways Learned from COVID-19’s Impact on Consumer Behavior and Global E-Commerce Trends

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Marketers know that changes in consumer behavior and global trends are never truly predictable — they aren’t predictable now, with COVID-19 looming as the elephant in the marketing meeting room (or, if you’re like me, Zoom meeting), and they weren’t in non-pandemic times.

However, the savvy brand marketer, with the right data and information, can identify patterns and glean insights that enable them to adapt to these changes, take action, and accelerate business outcomes.

In a recent webinar, Alex Timlin, SVP Verticals, Emarsys, and Matthew Furneaux, Global Commercial Director, Loqate (a GBG Solution), went in-depth and analyzed the recent changes in global trends and consumer behavior impacting retail and e-commerce throughout the world.

Here are five key takeaways these experts shared during the webinar, in their own words:

1. Every region, category, and retailer have been impacted differently

“Across different parts of the economy, we see different impacts. Not all retailers are experiencing the same thing at the same time.”
“What is very telling is, both in the US and here in Europe ... and throughout the rest of the world, online sales are booming. But there is a big difference in those growth rates regionally, as this kind of moves in different phases, [and], most importantly, in terms of categories.”
Alex Timlin, SVP Verticals, Emarsys
Alex Timlin
SVP Verticals, Emarsys

2. Consumers — not businesses — are firmly in control

“We’re not living in an age where businesses are in control of making people do things. We're living in an age [where], now more than ever, consumers are in charge of which brands they engage with and which methods they engage with.”
Alex Timlin, SVP Verticals, Emarsys
Alex Timlin
SVP Verticals, Emarsys
“Some businesses are experiencing an unexpected surge in orders, which is stressing their operations. So making sure that you're capturing customer information in a way that you can use that and deliver to your customers, and meet their expectations, is absolutely critical.”

Want to hear more from industry experts about changes in consumer behavior and global macro trends caused by COVID-19?

3. Brands are doubling down on digital to stay connected to customers

“What we are seeing [now are] actually increases in digital communications. There are more emails being sent, more emails being opened, [and] more emails being clicked than any other time — other than Cyber Week 2019, which was a global record.”
Alex Timlin, SVP Verticals, Emarsys
Alex Timlin
SVP Verticals, Emarsys
“We're just seeing some really good examples of where brands are maintaining the relationship with customers through social, keeping a web presence, keeping the conversation going and keeping that personalization going, even if there are no transactions [happening].”

4. The boom in digital has permanently expanded the online market

“The total addressable online market is obviously expanding enormously during these different times, but I think when it starts to contract back again … I think that addressable online market will be bigger than it was when we came in [to these times] ... It’s going to be required of online retailers to be ready for that.”
“For the very first time, we've got a very, very large increase in the digital population. And it's not just coming from a new generation ... It is coming from some established patterns of behavior within different generations really shifting towards the digital realm.”
Alex Timlin, SVP Verticals, Emarsys
Alex Timlin
SVP Verticals, Emarsys

5. To be successful, brands must adapt and respond to the new generations of online shoppers

“It’s going to be required of online retailers to … make sure it's simple for that older generation, or that less tech-savvy generation, to be active online. Make it easy to pay, make it easy to find what you want, make it easy to check out — something as simple as just entering your address. Make it really, really simple for those groups ... I think they'll stick with it, because they'll find it convenient.”
“Online population has just grown exponentially through a forced event on a global scale. How brands respond to this is going to be increasingly about how they look at those consumer trends and how they adapt to them to make sure that they're linking what their customers are looking for with what their business is looking for, and adapting their marketing strategies accordingly.”
Alex Timlin, SVP Verticals, Emarsys
Alex Timlin
SVP Verticals, Emarsys

Final Thoughts

While the initial threat of COVID-19 slowly (but not completely) begins to wane, stores across the globe are reopening. Although some of the more radical and drastic changes happening in consumer behavior and global trends will begin to balance out, one thing is for sure — retail and e-commerce will never be the same.

To gain an even deeper sense of the true impact of COVID-19 on retail and e-commerce — including a look at the specific businesses and categories most impacted, and where new revenue opportunities exist for your brand — check out the full webinar.

We’ve seen unique trends across ALL industries and product categories. Find out which trends are fleeting, and which are here to stay.

Kirk Donlan
About the Author
Kirk Donlan

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