The COVID -19 pandemic has rapidly transformed every stage of the purchase path, from how the customer relationship is established to the touchpoints that businesses should take advantage of to make their presence felt and leverage omnichannel sales. The bar was set high, but with the flexibility and customizability that headless commerce offers, eCommerce businesses could keep up with all these changes and maintain the growth.
Coronavirus pandemic proved to be a catalyst for online retail, which saw a significant increase in sales after the economy froze and malls closed. The new wave of customers, who - once skeptical - instantly jumped into online buying just initially due to the lack of an alternative, changed the eCommerce landscape completely.
Of course, the eCommerce growth was vivid many years before COVID hit us hard, but lately, we have witnessed a massive boom. No wonder the easiness of completing transactions, a broad selection of items, possibilities of price comparisons, access to customer reviews, 24/7 accessibility, more convenient delivery, payment methods, and - last but not least - the ease of returns... All of that triggered a huge shift in customers' behavior, and it is unlikely to reverse that change.
eCommerce grows at breakneck pace
Naturally, the market responds quickly to increased demand. According to Shopper's report, "Retail vs. Coronavirus - How Sales are Moving Online," between 5% and 23% more stores launched online (depending on category) in the first quarter of this year. Most new shops offer food (18%) and books and multimedia (23%). They are being opened by producers, among others, who previously relied mainly on offline sales and are now completely cut off from the opportunity to sell products.
Retail is also thriving on social media - a good example is grocery delivery companies that have started delivering to individual customers. Quite a few companies had to completely and immediately turn their business around and it turned out that you can sell almost anything online, such as tulip bouquets from the manufacturer.
Many shop platforms are currently offering special promotions, extended trial periods or free delivery, and agencies that help set up shop websites offer free support for those who want to invest in an e-commerce business.
It's interesting to look back at e-commerce growth over the past few years and venture a glimpse into the future of this industry. As these charts from Statistica show, the overall share of retail e-commerce sales has certainly grown in recent months, accounting for 16% of US sales in Q2 2020.
In the face of epidemic threats, online shopping has become the better alternative to traditional shopping for many consumers, and for high-risk people who are sick, quarantined or fear infection - the only.
It is also interesting to note the growth of e-commerce broken down by individual regions of the world, with a particular focus on the leader of this ranking - Latin America. In virtually every part of the world, the number of online purchases has increased by at least 20%.
Shopping mall closures, trade restrictions, and often the inability to leave the house have led to particular growth in some industries. It's no coincidence that the highest sales came from vendors that were typically focused on online. They benefited from the onset of the pandemic the most, but other industries, however, quickly adapted to the situation.
Customers' expectations evolves
The pandemic has increased the matter of fast and efficient logistics in eCommerce, making it one of the most crucial success factors for eCommerce business. Customers demand to have access to a broad spectrum of delivery possibilities, including the Click & Collect model; they want to know exactly when their delivery comes, follow the entire route of the shipment, and change the delivery address at the last minute. Technology must be able to fulfill these expectations.
Consumers, whatever their age, are adapting to new, safer ways of shopping - but the trust issues have to be properly addressed, and eCommerce platforms must offer a broad variety of trusted payments, adjusted to local preferences. It pays to offer customers the option of mobile wallets, self-service checkouts, and early payments, or same-day pick-up, in-store pick-up, drive-in, and entrance pick-up without entering the store.
Omnichannel is also a must nowadays. It's not surprising that the younger generations are increasingly using social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram for purchasing. The platforms themselves are contributing as they expand and update their eCommerce features. TikTok has added in-feed ads with a "Buy Now" option, Facebook launched its Shops, Instagram went live with Checkout, and lately, redesigned their UI to put "Stores" in the spotlight. That makes browsing listings and making in-app purchases as easy as clicking a "Like." These are just a few examples of how brands and stores can increase their online presence efforts and ensure customers don't forget about them.
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Omnichannel Sales and Headless CMSs that enable to embrace it.
But there is a catch - to embrace all these sales channels, add a variety of payment and delivery options Click and Collect included, the core eCommerce system has to be flexible and customizable. There is no way to do all of that with a traditional monolithic system, and so Headless Commerce is growing into a go-to direction for Enterprise eCommerce brands.
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Modern e-commerce platforms are moving towards a headless commerce architecture that separates the service layer from the presentation layer, creating more space for the effective implementation of conclusions drawn from analytics.
Headless consists of a database, an API, and an administration panel. As a result, the data stored in the database and the frontend are compatible but have no direct influence on each other.
With this solution, you can create any visual layer and an unlimited number of variants. In addition, it guarantees fast operation, a clear display of content that we add on different devices at the same time, the ability to make changes to the system without affecting the visual layer. Most importantly, a headless frontend means much greater security when storing information.
Headless Commerce is the way to fulfill modern customers' demands
The COVID -19 outbreak has accelerated digitization for about 3-5 years in selected industries forcing merchants to look for a tech stack, able to address these new expectations. In the traditional, monolithic model, new features can require system updates, both at the frontend and backend levels, making even small projects extremely complicated. It is a no-go.
Using headless technology, on the other hand, brings several advantages for merchants and customers. First, changes happen instantly - new content introduced on the front-end results in almost instantaneous updates. In comparison, stores based on a traditional architecture sometimes need even hours, before all users can use the new solution. With headless solutions, it's a matter of seconds.
The ability to control everything users have to do with makes businesses more creative by publishing experimental content on their sites. In addition, the compatibility of headless commerce technology ensures that the site works as intended on all devices, regardless of form.
In return, people who manage traditional websites have to deal with the fact that responsive design minimizes the risk of some elements disappearing or displaying incorrectly on different devices.
Headless Commerce platforms provide developers with APIs and tools to create consistent experiences regardless of channel. Creative teams, on the other hand, can focus on what they do best: optimizing experiences and interfaces to increase customer engagement and drive revenue.
The flexibility of Headless platforms also allows developers to leverage its possibilities through adding external tools, such as loyalty programs or analytic tools, that benefit the business.