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Kate Bould
Communications Manager @ Yotpo
July 22nd, 2020

What’s Next for Commerce Brands: 2020 and Beyond

COVID-19 has completely upended retail and accelerated shifts in the eCommerce landscape. We believe these trends are here to stay.

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Among the many unprecedented changes we’ve seen during this time, COVID-19 actually broke Amazon, forcing the eCommerce giant to turn down orders.

In Yotpo’s recent consumer survey, 65% of consumers confirmed that they can’t get everything they need from Amazon right now, and about 41% said if products are unavailable, they would turn to less familiar brands as options. This illustrates a unique opportunity for brands to both attract and cultivate a new, loyal customer base.

Here are some of the major changes we’ve seen and how we think they’ll impact brands long-term:

1. Consumers are going mobile

Not only are consumers changing who they buy from, they’re also changing how they buy. More than one-third of consumers are paying more attention to marketing messages from brands on email, SMS, social media, and ads — and they’re doing it all on their phones.

We see an opportunity for brands to capitalize on SMS Marketing as a relevant and effective channel to connect with customers: Yotpo data revealed that time spent on mobile devices has increased 30% during the pandemic, with text messaging increasing 50%.

2. Google and Walmart will become major players for product discovery

With Amazon flailing, Google took aggressive steps to dominate the market by making it free for merchants to sell on Google Shopping.

The advantage of this move is obvious: Google Shopping’s product catalog will increase dramatically, and consumers will more and more see Google as a destination to discover and shop for products. On the flip side, merchants face a more competitive, more saturated, Google Shopping platform.

For those looking for a way to stand out — Yotpo’s partnership with Google helps merchants do exactly that. You can use your Yotpo reviews and UGC to differentiate your brand and products, making them more discoverable by shoppers and building trust off the bat.

And it’s not just Google, Walmart recently teamed up with Shopify to give merchants the opportunity to sell on Walmart Marketplace, enabling retailers to reach the 120 million shoppers frequenting the marketplace each month. This partnership creates a huge opportunity for brands to grow and thrive.

To further empower sellers, we’ve announced our own partnership with Walmart, giving merchants the ability to use Yotpo to syndicate product reviews and visual UGC to Walmart.com. This helps brands bolster their presence on Walmart Marketplace with social proof that drives sales and long-term customer loyalty.

3. Brands are facing lower barriers to customer acquisition

COVID-19 is forcing new demographics of shoppers into eCommerce for the first time, particularly older generations and those in rural areas who typically shop at brick-and-mortar stores.

Research from McKinsey shows that many shoppers have not only switched their go-to brands and retailers due to Covid-19, but more than half plan to maintain these changes once things return to normal (whatever that may look like).

With entirely new audiences moving online and exposed to new brands, there’s a great opportunity for brands to reach and engage them through social media. In fact, CPC has declined about 25% on social, making it cheaper to get your ads in front of the right shoppers.

Barriers to customer acquisition may be lower right now, but for brands to really take advantage of this opportunity, it’s crucial to begin building customer loyalty even in that first interaction. If you can create a differentiated and superior customer experience, once customers buy from you, they’ll never want to go back.

4. Brands that provide an omnichannel shopping experience will win

The impact on brick-and-mortar stores over the last couple of months is something we expect to see long-term. According to research, 35% of consumers say they won’t be going to the mall as often as they did prior to Covid-19. And it’s not just about whether or not shoppers will go to the mall, we’re seeing that shopper behaviors and the customer fulfillment experience as a whole are significantly evolving.

“People have come to value the safety and convenience of contactless fulfillment — whether that’s same-day delivery, drive-through, curbside, or in-store pick-up,” said Rob Garf, VP of Industry Strategy and Insights at Salesforce. “Those that offered these options during the height of the pandemic saw a more than 200% increase in digital revenue. What started off as a preference has turned into a mandate. Those retailers that respond with scale and automation will emerge positioned for profitable growth amidst our new normal.”

Creating a more omnichannel shopping experience is clearly a significant competitive advantage for brands right now. We can see how customers are shifting the way brands work, with an accelerated uptick in adoption of these new models:

  • Buying online for in-store pickup (BOPUS) has seen 39% user growth, with 62% of buyers expecting to continue this behavior.
  • Curbside pickup grew rapidly, from 2% to 26% adoption amongst stores at the end of February.

As the retail industry continues to evolve, we anticipate a decline in commercial real estate prices and an opportunity for brands to pursue a brick-and-mortar retail presence with a refreshed omnichannel approach.

5. The “new normal” for commerce isn’t going anywhere

It’s important for brands to understand that even as things begin to stabilize, many of the retail trends accelerated by COVID-19 will be with us for the long haul.

For eCommerce brands, that’s not bad news, as it means more growth over a longer period of time. For example, Nike and Adidas reported eCommerce grew 30-35% while retail stores were closed, and it’s stayed at those  higher levels even as their stores reopened.

For brick-and-mortar stores, it’s still not bad news, Shopify reports that offline stores using Shopify POS were already able to recuperate 92% of their lost offline sales by moving them online.

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