COVID-19 is changing online shopping behaviours: How can you thrive in the ‘new normal’?

Why equipping your online store with Click and Collect and other strategies will attract more sales from customers, post COVID-19.

As we ease out of lockdown, it’s certainly true that COVID-19 is changing people’s online shopping behaviours.

85% of UK consumers are still concerned about COVID-19, according to Rare: Consulting’s consumer tracker survey in early July. Even with the easing of lockdown, 37% feel worried and only 10% feel happy.

But the good news is that you can react promptly, and let your customers shop with you in the ways they want to. So how do you adapt your business to benefit from these behaviour changes?

Set up your free online store with Square.

Create a free Online Store with Square and start selling today!

Focusing your online store on post-COVID shopping

One big change is that more people are choosing to buy online. In 2019, as high as 82% of UK households made online purchases within the preceding 12 months, making this the highest online purchase penetration rate in the past 11 years, according to Statista.

So if you don’t yet have an online store, or yours needs updating, now would be a great time to focus on your e-commerce options. It’s easier than you might think.

As Square seller Jenny Maxwell, owner of Nordic Muse, a jewellery and lifestyle store in Manchester, says:

“We do have to do things differently now and customers are not going to shop the same with us and we can never really operate the same. I think it was quite clear to me from the off really that failure to adapt would come at a cost to the business. So, right now as it stands, online is the focus.”

The UK’s online shopping sector is flying. It’s expected to grow almost 20% year on year, to reach £78.9bn by the end of 2020, new research from Edge Retail Insight published in Decision Marketing reveals. This is up from an equivalent estimate before lockdown of just 11% growth.

And in another significant behaviour change, more than 1 in 3 over-55s are saying they will switch permanently to online, according to research by Rare: Group.

So it seems like an eCommerce store is a really valuable asset for your business in these times. Luckily, Square enables you to start up a modern, seamless and secure online store, quickly and with no hassle.

Customers like an up-to-date online store, with Statista research showing that 59% of responders believe digital payments would be traceable if necessary, so reducing fraud.

So it’s very useful that you can accept lots of different, secure payment methods with Square; including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and all major credit and debit cards.

You can also create easy checkout links to help you start accepting payments online, even without an online store.

Using Click and Collect to boost your online sales

Click and Collect usage continues to increase in the UK. Research last year by eMarketer pointed to a year on year rise of 8.2% in 2019. The data also predicted that by the end of 2019, 29.3 million buyers would opt to buy online and pick up in store or at an alternative collection point. This is more than 1 in 2 of the UK population above the age of 14.

With Square, Curbside pickup and local delivery are now available through Square Online. Per-order fees for delivery will be waived through 31 October, 2020.

As well as the valued speed and convenience of Click and Collect, it also means your customers needn’t spend time in store if they prefer not to, and don’t have to wait at home for a delivery.

Even if in-person shopping fully returns, Click and Collect is an important delivery option. Positioned between instore shopping and home delivery, it allows you:
· More control over how you present your brand.
· The opportunity for you to give personal touches.
· The opportunity to upsell and make additional sales.

In fact UK retailers reported that shoppers spent up to 14% more by adding items to their basket in store, when they visited to collect the orders they made online in 2018.

So it’s easy to see why Click and Collect is becoming so popular for both sellers and their customers – find out how to add it to your online store here.

Encouraging extra online shopping spend

Once you have your e-commerce website with Click and Collect up and running, here’s a quick, simple and attractive way to boost your sales to your existing customers – and to attract new ones.

Square’s Digital Gift Card enables you to set up an eGift Card instantly in any amount. Your customer can purchase eGift Cards online or in person, and email them to their family and friends.

eGift Cards are easy to set up and sell online. They are fully integrated into the Square app and Square Dashboard, and there’s no training needed.

Ensuring you’re in control of your online stock

Good stock control is fundamental to a sound and stable business. It’s a great way of avoiding any cashflow problem caused by overstocking – or by running out of popular stock.

Inventory Management, Square’s inventory management tool gives you simple tools to keep a clear count of in-stock items. For items with inventory enabled, the stock count will update based on sales recorded from Square Point of Sale.

Square also syncs with apps of every kind you could need, from accounting apps and eCommerce solutions to inventory and employee management. Check out our popular apps.

Attracting the post-COVID online customer

It’s fantastic there’s so much research out there to give us insights into what customers are thinking and doing in these changing times.

Rare:Consulting concludes that brands perceived to be offering a good response to the pandemic have consequently generated higher levels of trust among customers.

And as Jenny, owner of Nordic Muse, puts it: “I guess to me now it’s all about how do I inject that personal touch into the eCommerce side of it? And I’m really enjoying that new journey as well, and what we can do with that.”

One thing’s certain, the changes are likely to keep coming. And the secret to bouncing back strongly? Getting the most out of your online store, and how it responds to your customers’ changing behaviours and priorities. Change is opportunity – let’s take advantage of it!