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Top Tips to Navigate the New World of E-Commerce

Now that we are beyond the first half of 2020, we wanted to take a look at how COVID-19 shaped and accelerated e-commerce during the first six months. As well as how it might affect the second half of the year and into 2021.

Prior to COVID-19, e-commerce has delivered consistent double-digit year-over-year growth. Kantar projects 2020 to be the strongest year yet with +22% growth driven by the massive shift from offline to online. With this new wave of e-commerce acceleration in 2020, Catalyst and Kantar dove deeper to uncover why online shopper behavior has shifted and how the industry is responding.

We read Catalyst and Kantar’s landmark study, “The State of Ecommerce 2021” for you and have come up with a 30,000-foot view of their recommendations and insight findings.

1. Ensure a strong and integrated brand presence across all platforms

Many of the most successful have adopted a cross-channel retail media approach that includes traditional retailers, as well as search, social, and programmatic advertising, creating new opportunities through thoughtfully connecting the shopper experience throughout the journey.

Research shows that social media ads had the highest percentage (19%) of marketers reporting significant budget increases, followed by email marketing (15%), YouTube ads (13%), and paid search (12%).

2. Prioritize convenience and ease for shoppers

While shoppers tend to use social media platforms more for inspiration and discovery, retailers and traditional search engines still play an important role in these shopping activities. Shoppers visit retailer sites more for research and product/price comparisons, but also use search and social sites for the same activities. Cross-platform shopping is the hallmark of today’s online purchaser, cementing the importance of integrating retail, search, and social strategies.

Shoppers value convenience over price: 66% of online purchasers say that convenience is the main reason they choose to purchase at a specific retailer, while only 47% say price/value is the main reason.

3. Invest in search, content, and PDPs to maximize findability and conversions

The study revealed that, among all online purchasers, nearly half (45%) indicated that they visited a product detail page (PDP) at the time of purchase. And of those that ranked any touchpoint, 41% said PDPs had the biggest influence on their purchase.

This one was a plot twist: shoppers do review PDPs beyond the first page, with 49% of online purchasers reporting scrolling past the first page to look for what they want, especially for general merchandise. For younger generations, the rate is even higher: 56% of millennial and 54% of Gen X online purchasers scroll past the first page when researching products and brands.

The future of search: Some of the key trends regarding the future of search advertising include: personalization, voice search, and visual search.

4. Measure what matters, not what is easy

Industry professionals recommend considering a range of other metrics to create a more complete picture of performance. Look at share of search as a key retail media metric, which “helps balance ROAS with how advertising is performing and growing relevancy within products.” Look at metrics together to make sure the “retail business is driving the advertising business and vice versa.”

5. Unlock custom opportunities with retailers through mutual value

Multiple e-commerce professionals cited the need for brands and retailers to increase understanding and sharing of data and performance measurement, as a key element to elevating their partnerships.

Research shows that 40% of industry professionals agree that the biggest opportunity in e-commerce marketing in the next five years is improving the user experience.

6. Lean into expert partners throughout your journey

Media and e-commerce agencies often play a supporting role in the success of a brand’s holistic, omnichannel digital marketing program, including e-commerce. Agencies expect more opportunities to support brands’ retail media efforts with 56% of agency respondents saying they expect more RFPs in e-commerce and retail media in 2020.

7. Embrace online grocery and last-mile delivery, even if you aren’t a traditional grocery brand

COVID-19 alone has accelerated online grocery by about three to five years. Overall, the impact and influence of online grocery and last mile providers has created a huge shift, with implications for grocers and brands. Suddenly, grocers across the country are forced to invest in their online grocery platforms to meet immediate changes in shopper demand, or risk being left behind.

8. Test and learn now, don’t wait until it’s perfect

Overall, more companies are focused on developing dedicated online strategies rather than simply applying offline strategies to online as they have in the past. As a sign of this growing commitment, more industry professionals (45%) say they now have a clear and differentiated product portfolio strategy for e-commerce than they did two years ago.

We hope you found these insights helpful and something to consider as you work through your next e-commerce marketing plan.


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