Now is the time for retailers to deliver a true e-commerce experience

Published: 01/04/2021
Author: Vidatec

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK’s high street will be felt for decades to come. While consumer appetite for slick online shopping experiences was already growing, the high street still dominated the pre-pandemic retail landscape. That’s now changed. With the government all but mandating people to shop online by asking them to stay at home and closing non-essential stores, e-commerce made up a staggering 30% of total retail sales in 2020. That’s the first time the e-commerce market has reached this milestone, and the only way is up.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) puts the figure at 36% as of February 2021. And according to Gartner’s latest predictions report, organisations that embrace an omnichannel digital experience will outperform traditional brick-and-mortar businesses by more than 30% in sales growth. By now it’s pretty clear that if you don’t have a digital presence as a retailer, you’re going to fall behind fast. 

Most retailers are getting that message, responding to the pandemic by pushing their operations online. But how effective can rapid digital transformation be for the average retailer? Online shopping is more than just a function for consumers – it’s a whole experience. Today, it’s easier and more affordable than ever for retailers to offer an incredible user experience – one that will put them on a level playing field with some of the biggest brands in the world. Here’s how.

Tapping into mobile and the app ecosystem

According to analytics firm, App Annie, the average amount of time consumer spend on their smartphones skyrocketed by 27% in 2020 alone. The same research concluded that time spent shopping on mobile apps increased by 45% and will only keep increasing in 2021 and beyond. While much of this might be linked to the pandemic and the closure of the UK’s high street, users that tap into the convenience of shopping on their smartphones are unlikely to revert back to traditional ways of doing things. Far from being an obstacle to overcome, it’s actually good news for retailers. 

Setting up a business online with an excellent user experience isn’t nearly as tough as it used to be. Tapping into new platforms and technologies like mobile and web apps is incredibly affordable and can offer a huge boost to profit margins if implemented correctly. Adopting an app-first approach and getting your live store into people’s palms will keep you at pace with even the toughest competitors, then all that’s left to do is perfect the brand experience. 

The rise of social shopping

You might think that a user experience begins and ends with an app, but that’s not the case. Your entire digital strategy should be geared toward creating a unified and joined-up experience for your customers at each and every touchpoint. That means putting effort into how you market your products and services outside of the mobile or web app itself, creating a ‘bond’ with consumers. Social shopping presents a unique opportunity in this regard, allowing retailers to secure sales through social media channels like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.

By 2024, the social shopping market is expected to be worth more than $2 trillion thanks to innovations like Facebook Shop and Snapchat’s ‘The Drop’, which basically serves as an interactive digital shopping channel. Google and Starbucks have even joined forces to create a new social shopping platform called Tuli which is centred around the restaurant trade. 

Making inroads into e-commerce

The incredible thing about the e-commerce landscape in 2021 is that, with the right kind of implementation and digital strategy, it’s basically a level playing field. To get a nice position on the high street with plenty of footfall, you usually have to pay over the odds. Online real estate, on the other hand, is unlimited. Your prominence online isn’t dictated by how much you pay for your app, but how great your experience is and how well rounded your digital strategy is. 

That’s where Vidatec comes in. With our team of in-house experts in UX, mobile, web, e-commerce development and all things digital, we can help your business make the transition from the high street to e-commerce with minimum risk and maximum gain. We can create a mobile or web app from the ground up that’s built for your business and engineered to serve your customers, wherever they are. For all the disruption the pandemic has caused, the small silver lining is that it’s connecting consumers with services and products that they may otherwise have missed. There’s never been a better time to join the e-commerce revolution. 

To find out more about how Vidatec can support your business see our services.