September 15, 2021 - Strategy

Time to flip your e-commerce

There's no getting around it: COVID-19 has clearly accelerated some trends that have been slumbering for a while. Habits that used to be an exception, suddenly became the rule. Think of online shopping instead of going to the physical store. Initially, e-commerce had to 'flip' out of necessity, but we believe that this new habit will stick once the pandemic is over. In other words, it's high time we approach e-commerce differently.

The pandemic shook things up

Before the pandemic, it was pretty simple: If you knew what you were looking for, you searched it in Google and ended up on a dedicated web shop. If you didn’t know what you were looking for or you just felt like shopping, you simply went to the physical store. Our webshops were tailor-made for this approach: fully equipped for the functional shopper, fully optimized for Google and designed for the perfect conversion of ‘the quick-in-quick-out buyer’ who really knows what he or she wants.

But the rules against COVID-19 have changed the way we (had to) buy. In the past year and a half, we've all been forced to do our shopping online. Not only the functional buyer, but also the advice seeker and the fun shopper were clicking, swiping and eventually buying online. Guess what? This new shopping behavior will largely stick post-pandemic, so we need to adapt our e-commerce. We should no longer just optimize for the functional shopper, but also fill it with advice and fun for the other type of shoppers.

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Curiosity-driven e-commerce

The million dollar question is: How to switch from purely 'intent-driven' e-commerce to 'curiosity-driven' e-commerce?

We have to get rid of the cliché image that the Internet is antisocial, cold and clinical, and is purely about efficiency and cost savings. You can also convey human warmth and connection through digital interfaces - it only requires a different approach:

  • E-commerce should be where your target group hangs out, in the TikToks and Instagram stories of this world, not in a separate web shop. 
  • Embedded in the vibrant communities of the Internet, not a detour and a distraction from it. 
  • Filled with live-streaming human advisors, rather than dry rows of product listings. 
  • Full of surprises and novelties brought to you, not a catalogue waiting for you to type in the specific product details. 
  • ...

You get the picture, right? The online shopping experience is evolving from a purely functional to a surprising experience. A web shop that looks like the conveyor belt in a sushi restaurant rather than a shop shelf full of ingredients. You shouldn’t have to search, but only choose.

Translating it into the whole shopping experience

Not only the online shopping experience, but also the offline shopping experience will adapt accordingly. Think of it: The product packaging that is made to stand out on a physical shop shelf, has the most beautiful designs on the front. This needs to change when the first view of that product is one from above, as we ‘unbox’ the package brought by the courier. Or another example: The physical store that now has a small, dull space in the back to pick up online orders, needs to be transformed into a space where the pickup is the primary experience. It’s all about making that great first impression, right? As we already stated in our opinion in De Tijd, successful e-commerce companies work from the customer experience inwards.

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The Big Flip

In order to meet the expectations and new behaviors of your customers, you will need to flip your e-commerce too. Because, once the pandemic will be under control and we will return to normal life, this new habit will stick for sure. Do you want to prepare yourself? Then I advise you to watch our webinar ‘The Big Flip’, in which I share nine habits that are bound to flip forever. Because you, as a company, will have to flip too in order to meet the expectations and new behaviors of your customers.

Watch our webinar

This article was published on Flanders DC on June 24, 2021.

Bart De Waele

Bart De Waele

CEO & Founder

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