As Covid-19 changed the world, we saw a shift in the way we operate and usually do things. In 2020 we found out how the world of commerce has accelerated and shifted the way businesses run and grow. Commerce is the interaction between businesses and their customers and we’re all entering into a new era of commerce. Let’s dive into some predictions from Shopify on how businesses can adapt to consumers shopping habits in the year 2021.

 

Young consumers will change the business landscape as e-commerce charges ahead.

The pandemic shifted a lot of our daily activities and behaviors to an online platform. While most individuals are familiar with using technology, learning to understand new platforms online still came as a learning curve for individuals. Younger generations had an advantage with using technology regularly while older generations learned to switch over to doing what they normally do in person to online. With younger generations having this accustomed advantage, businesses should focus their attention on young consumers who continue to drive forward in commerce.

Covid-19 has made consumers more hesitant to return to in-store shopping. There’s an uncertain risk of getting the virus, while online shopping gives consumers a certainty of safety. 84% of consumers have shopped online since the pandemic and 46% of them say they feel uncomfortable shopping in-person. Covid-19 has significantly changed the way consumers shop around the world which creates new opportunities and avenues for businesses to take advantage of.

While the focus of shopping has switched to online rather than in person, it has also switched to younger consumers who already adapted to shopping online. Younger consumers are drawn to following influencers and trends on social media platforms. This results in younger consumers making decisions to shop through social media outlets to help feel a sense of relation with other individuals. Especially in a time where the pandemic has taken away most of our normal connections and interactions with other individuals. Businesses should focus more on building their brand to adjust to meet new consumer expectations. Functions such as shopping through social media, having sustainable products, and helping make an impact within the small business community are what younger consumers are looking to shop for.

 

Physical retail as we know it will transform, giving local businesses new advantages.

While focuses have shifted to shopping more online than in person, there are still new advantages for physical retail locations for businesses. Individuals are setting their focus more on utilizing technology and your business should too. Utilizing safe strategies through technology helps benefit your business, employees, and customers. When your business focuses more on switching to technology, your customers’ needs will be met.

Some of these alternative strategies your business can utilize is curbside pickup, pickup points, and local delivery. Amongst individuals who used each of these methods, over half did so more often in the past 6 months than before the pandemic started. Curbside pickup and pickup points give individuals another option, besides a drive-thru, to wait safely in their car without interacting with any individuals. While local delivery gives customers the option to stay in the safety of their home while someone else drops it off on their front porch. These alternative methods help provide additional options for consumers who still prefer in-store locations while staying safe.

 

Consumers want to shop independent. Businesses will adapt to make that easier.

COVID has forced many into more of an isolated state. Whether that’s living on their own, or just their own household, we’ve all had to make adjustments to our behavior and those changes are not going to change anytime soon. COVID has made an enemy of the independent businesses tho, and helped marketplaces become the new king. Small businesses in particular need to adapt to this changing consumer culture in order to make it through once things go back to some semblance of “normal”. People still want the convenience that comes from marketplaces like Amazon. That will not change even after COVID.

It’s an interesting dynamic posed by the survey. People want to support small business, but convenience often wins out. 50% of people said they seek out ways to support independent businesses, and 65% said they do support small business. But purchasing habits reflect a different story. Shopify reports that only 29% of consumers actually shopped with a small business since the start of the pandemic. It’s a wide chasm between intention and execution. 

But that doesn’t mean all is lost for independent businesses. The same survey shows that while a majority of people have purchased from an online marketplace or big box retailer in the past six months, they don’t necessarily plan to continue to do so. The door is open if an independent business decides to take the opportunity. That’s why SEO is so important. You can offer your products online, and with good SEO, people will capitalize on their desire to shop small rather than support the big brands.

Even though these online marketplaces are convenient, small businesses can offer the same services to attract more customers. Things like free shipping after spending a certain price point, or faster shipping options. Other options like offering deals through  social media, and being able to converse with your customers through your platform can make a big difference for those ready to make a decision about buying a new product from a small business versus a big box store.

 

More consumers will vote with their wallets.

The biggest lesson businesses should have taken away from 2020 is that your brand needs to become more transparent, authentic, and accountable now more than ever. Consumers have become more vulnerable to deciding where they want to spend their money in these uncertain times. Consumer preferences are more likely to favor your business for certain things you do or have. Consumers prefer businesses and brands that:

  • Have sustainable/green products that help the environment.
  • Make a donation to a worthy cause.
  • Help improve local or independent businesses.

All of these factors are popular reasons why consumers choose the way they buy from businesses. Now more than ever, consumers look to help support small and local businesses. Shopping local helps to strengthen the local economy, support local job creation, and invest in the community. Favoring and supporting local businesses has become one of the popular trends for many countries around the world in a way to help strengthen their local economies in hard times such as these.

 

Modern financial solutions will disrupt business and consumer banking, finance, and lending.

The pandemic has forced many things into the future that were previously unheard of. All business has needed to adapt in one way or another. And financial institutions bent on keeping things the way they are wont be able to keep up. Because of the shift in consumer and buying culture, many businesses say they need to find better ways to manage their finances because current practices don’t keep up with needs. 

The data shows that 36% of merchants applying for financing says that their bank doesn’t understand their needs during the COVID crisis. More than half said they want mobile app or online banking is crucial for their needs. Venmo or PayPal is becoming a common way to pay business expenses. All these are new methods of banking that have come up in the past few years that all financial institutions need to adapt to.

 

Concluding thoughts for SEO

The COVID crisis changed the world in a matter of months. It’s incredible that even with so many restrictions, the business world has evolved tremendously, with no signs of stopping. Small businesses and consumers have needed to change their habits. And we’ve learned that the independent businesses of the world are resilient. They’re adapting well to the changing world. But it can be hard to keep up.

What all the data tells us is that it’s crucial to be online. Local search and business profiles are how many people do research now. They want to support businesses in their own communities. It’s up to these businesses to make sure they’re found. We’ve highlighted a lot of data from the Shopify report in this article. All is crucial. But you also need to make sure you have a strong online presence. More than 80% of those with intent to buy start with an online search. If you need help to strengthen your SEO, website, or business profiles, reach out to us at Boostability. We can help!

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Amanda is the former Vice President of Marketing at Boostability. Amanda has 15 years of marketing and public relations experience. Prior to Boostability, Amanda was Co-Founder and CMO of PromoJam Social Marketing Platform, acquired by Deluxe Corporation in 2014.