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(Unprecedented) Digital Times Require Digital Retail

August 28, 2020 By: Katie O'Leary

Gorilla Group and Quantum Metric join forces to collate digital trend data from the peak of lockdown, helping retailers prepare for a digital-first December.

If only we had a dollar, a pound, a euro, a rupee or a bitcoin for every time we’ve heard the phrase ‘unprecedented times’ over the last 3 months… Not one country, currency, or industry was unaffected by the global Covid-19 crisis. But with each challenge there has also been a new learning. So, what can retailers learn from the first half of 2020, that might help strengthen digital customer experiences for the remainder of the year?

Quantum Metric, the platform that helps companies build better digital products faster, and Gorilla Group, the commerce experience agency, collated their respective data pools from the end of January 2020 to the end of April 2020 – when online retail experienced its biggest Covid related spike as shoppers adjusted to lockdown restrictions.

Key lockdown learnings

  • Online shopping surged by 60% YoY
  • Top shopping categories (determined by buying power): Home & Garden, Animals & Pet Supplies, and Office Supplies 
  • Worst shopping categories (determined by buying power): Apparel & Accessories, Cameras & Optics, and Luggage & Bags 
  • The increase in online retail saw website errors (pages not loading, pages slow loading, duplicate add to carts, faux add to carts, check out errors, etc.) increase 12%
  • Cart abandonment increased by 63%*
  • Customer frustrations increased by 52%*

*as measured by aggregated Quantum Metric data 

The data also shows that the initial spike at the beginning of the lockdown period had started to plateau by April. Revenue also tapered off, but conversions remained high.

There are no huge surprises from these findings, so it’s right to ask the question: what can we learn from this data about what to expect from online shopping for the rest of 2020?

“The trends we saw during the peak of the crisis will continue through the holiday season and beyond,” said Randy Kohl Head of Marketing at Gorilla Group. “‘This year, Black Friday will become ‘Pack (& Ship) Friday’. The brands and retailers that have a good handle on their data and ecommerce operations will thrive, but the rest will struggle.”

The ‘new normal’ for retailers is, right now, every bit as uncertain as the unprecedented times that preceded it. However, there are learnings around shopper behaviors and the customer experience – from the first half of 2020 that can help weather the storm.

The 60% surge that we saw in online shopping brought along with it a 60% surge in customer experience data (and struggles) for retailers to learn from. By diving into top technical errors and user frustrations, brands can take the time now to ensure that their sites and mobile apps will be robust enough to withstand a digital-first holiday season. With online secured, business continuity can be guaranteed and physical shopping can become an added bonus – if available. 

Preparing for a festive period 

If you get your digital processes and stack right, everything else is just icing on the cake. 

Efrat Ravid, CMO of Quantum Metric, said: “Digital experiences are more important than ever. Some retailers are seeing daily surges on par with Black Friday, Websites and native apps suddenly need to fulfill the role of store windows, retail assistants and personal shoppers –  as well as doing their day job. Brands need to align their best minds, creative and make sure they have the best tools and data to continuously perfect their digital products and experiences.”

Creating analytics alerts to flag some of the key trends we saw during lockdown shopping will also help keep things on track:

  • Look out for increased demand across your product range – notice when people start buying items in bulk that you wouldn’t usually expect 
  • Make ‘low stock’ a key metric to watch 
  • Pay attention to activity on search pages 
  • Ensure product pages are linking to similar items when ‘first choice’ items are out of stock 

Take a look at our Holiday 2020 Digital Surge Prep List to make sure that you are well positioned to manage online demand, while continuing to offer excellent digital experiences for your customers. Reach out to your technology providers, and the service partners that enable them, for any additional insights or awareness that you need. Perhaps the best thing to come out of covid-19 is the real desire for all businesses to help each other succeed.

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