The ongoing global pandemic has fundamentally changed the way that many businesses operate. From buyer behaviour to online transactions and reduced face-to-face contact, the global pandemic has expedited the shift towards digital and permanently shifted the way that industries operate.
In 2020, many businesses were forced to change the way that they deliver their goods and services to clients. From service-based health professionals, to independently owned retailers that were forced to adopt digital strategies, the ongoing health crisis means that many industries are locked into a state of perpetual change.
So, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to disrupt the way that businesses operate, what can we expect in 2021 and beyond? To help, we have compiled a list of 4 keyways that businesses will change and evolve over the next 12-24 months.
- eCommerce Marketing Boom
To say that 2020 was a defining year for e-Commerce would be an understatement. A recent study found that the amount that was spent online in 2020 skyrocketed. $267 billion spent online in the first six months of 2019, the first half of 2020 saw online sales grew to more than $368 billion. SEO Sydney company Safari found that businesses across Australia increased their search marketing budget by as much as 240% in 2020 as a direct result of shifting business models and changed cost structures.
In 2021, expect to see the trend towards e-Commerce continue to grow quickly. Bricks and mortar retail businesses that were using e-Commerce stores as a placeholder template are now driving more of their marketing budget towards online sales. To stay competitive in 2021 and beyond, businesses must continue to invest in new marketing practices to stay competitive within their vertical.
- Purposeful Marketing Practices
As of 2021, more than 88% of consumers reported that they were more likely to support a company that was giving back. In addition to giving back to their local community and throwing their weight behind other initiatives, customers also reported that they were more likely to spend money with a company that paid employees and local taxes. Large tech companies such as Amazon and Tesla that have wilfully ignored their local tax responsibilities and used offshore havens to reduce the amount that they pay have been widely criticised.
2020 saw hundreds of businesses take a stand for equality, political fairness, diversity, and broader inclusion. In addition, many large companies committed to environmental policies that would actively reduce their environmental footprint.
- Personalised Experiences
Now, more than ever, customers expect an experience that has been tailored towards their personal preferences. Just like the way that Google serves ads to a customer based on their browsing history, businesses should be tailoring their experiences for their customers. It does not matter if you are a bricks and mortar business, a services-based business, or an online business, the experience that you provide for your customers' needs to be unique and personal.
For many years, big data and large customer bases was the currency that large businesses relied on to learn what customers want. Now, the equation has gone the other way and the convenience that customers once craved now seems cold and sterile. In a world where interactions are becoming increasingly impersonal, customers are craving an experience where they are treated as an individual, not another customer.
- Considered Pricing Models
Digital shopping means that comparing prices and choosing a product with the leverage of a SKU and a 'sort high to low' function means that customers have more choice than ever before. In a world where customers can shop purely on price, retailers now need to deliver more than just the lowest price on the item.
A 2019 study by British Consumer found that customers would be willing to spend more with a company if the 'perceived value' was higher. That could mean that customer service was better, shipping was faster, or aftercare was of a higher standard. In any case, the message is that more options should not mean a race to the bottom for the lowest price. In fact, many large forecasting companies warned against the trend of shop 'low to high' and encouraged customers to think about the added value of shopping with trusted retailers and service providers.
The way that customers shop and interact with businesses online has changed for good. The events of 2020 have expedited the shift towards digital mediums and, as a result, left several businesses of all sizes scrambling to adapt to the way that consumers are behaving online. In 2021, the winning businesses will be those that can accept that change has happened and embrace new behaviours form customers.