With the Covid-19 pandemic dominating the globe’s headlines, many brands have had to pivote to digital marketing and ecommerce to continue selling their products. But in many markets, the transition had to happen quickly, and with limited resources.
According to HubSpot Blogs research, 83% of consumers said they currently buy online, and 56% plan to exclusively purchase online in the near future. Furthermore, 62% of consumers said they researched products online before purchasing, and 39% planned to research products before making a purchase.
These figures come from a HubSpot Blogs survey of nearly 1,500 consumers in the US, UK, and Canada. The survey was conducted between March 27th and April 2nd 2020.
The shift to online commerce has led to dramatic changes in shoppers’ habits. While 71% of consumers said they would frequently look at reviews before purchasing, only 28% said they would do so in person. Furthermore, 28% said they would read online instructions or guides, and 23% would watch videos to learn how to use a product.
In the world of ecommerce, brands must contend with the increasing complexity of shoppers’ digital research, which can mean engaging with them across all the major buying platforms, including storefronts, messaging apps, and social media.
In the past, people typically went into a physical store to purchase a product. With the rise of online markets and the increasing speed and functionality of internet connections, the line between physical and digital commerce has blurred.
The opportunity to purchase goods online became highly accessible, which meant that for the first time in history, the majority of consumers could shop at the tap of a button. This opportunity presented itself at a crucial point in time – right after the 2008 global financial crisis. Banks and credit card companies restricted consumers’ ability to make purchases, and the ensuing years were a trial and error process for the retail industry. While the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a revival of brick-and-mortar commerce, online shopping has permanently changed the game.
Even before the pandemic, online markets had significantly shrunk the gap between physical stores and online travel agencies, such as Expedia or Travelocity. In the battle for share, the latter have risen to the top to become the preferred choice for international travel. According to the Global Digital Marketing & E-commerce Survey 2020, conducted by BrightLocal and HPE, 47% of consumers would rather purchase travel-related products online, compared to 29% who would visit a physical travel agency.
The Product Mix Has Shifted
To compete for consumer business, marketers must update their approach and utilize various marketing tactics, including advertising.
The Product Mix Has Shifted report, commissioned by HubSpot and conducted by Blue Steel Labs, highlights how brands can use product testing, research, social media, and affiliate programs to grow their business. The report examined existing digital marketing activities between March 2019 and February 2020, across three continents (North America, South America, and Europe). The report found that digital marketing activity has shifted from being mainly focused on increasing awareness of a brand or product to becoming more integrated with the sales process and supporting sales growth.
According to HubSpot Blogs research, the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most to marketers revolve around increased growth and revenue. Product testing and social media activity that supports growth are vital, as are campaigns that boost consumer trust, loyalty, and brand awareness. The findings point to the shift in marketing objectives that can no longer be measured by traditional metrics, such as click-through rates or the number of people who interacted with a campaign.
Based on these figures, it’s evident that for brands, the future of marketing and commerce is online. However, as a consumer shifts to purchasing mostly or exclusively online, what does this mean for brands, especially small ones, looking to break into the market, and how can they ensure their efforts are maximizing business growth?
For starters, they can create a website or storefront and utilize their target audience’s favorite methods of research, navigation, and ordering. Furthermore, brands can leverage the power of social media and content marketing to gain credibility with potential customers and increase brand awareness.
With Google Shopping now allowing for product listings and reviews on their platforms, brands have more opportunity than ever to establish authority and trust with potential customers, especially in the research phase.
And if a business is unable to set up a website or provide online ordering, they can always consider other options, such as selling their products at retail stores, partnering with other businesses or brands for product or service deliveies, or using an online travel agency to purchase travel-related products.