Three Ways to Capitalise on the Coronavirus-Triggered Move to Shopping Online

COVID-19 has, as we all know, significantly transformed the New Zealand shopping environment, perhaps permanently.

The enforced closure of all but essential retail businesses under Level 4 restrictions, and even the limited trading under Level 3, saw a great many consumers forced to do at least some shopping online (many for the very first time).

This BNZ/Marketview graph, covering only until the end of March, shows the dramatic escalation in online shopping in New Zealand as the lockdown began.

US data covering essential and non-essential products shows substantial growth in both traffic and transactions, with fashion enjoying a 63 percent year-on-year transactional growth.

Those trends are hardly surprising when consumers are required to stay at home. The big question is “what happens next?” Will consumers continue to shop online when life gets back to the new normal?

UK research suggests that they will. 

A survey conducted on behalf of global commerce services company PFS found that:

  • 53 percent of British consumers have purchased more goods online since the lockdown began
  • more than three quarters (77 percent) expected that they will continue to purchase online more, once the lockdown is over

So as many as 40 percent of consumers might potentially be enticed to shop online, according to those figures.

Even if we slice the percentage in half, it’s still a tantalising opportunity worth exploring.

How can you best take advantage of this new environment?

If you’re new to selling online, read on. 

Many New Zealand apparel businesses have been trading online for a long time, including well-established brands such as Ezibuy. Your role is not to compete with them but rather to take your offering, whatever it might be, and make it available to your local constituency, to the rest of the country and potentially to other would-be buyers across the world.

To do so successfully starts with being unique.

  1.  Develop Unique Offerings

    Whatever you are selling, your product should be unique. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are the only place online where you can purchase your particular product (although that would be the ideal scenario) – but it does mean that your offering should feature products to which you have added personal value in some way. Products which are unique, whether in their presentation, description or in some other personalised manner are far more likely to attract interested browsers and buyers than those items that are effectively the same as those people can find elsewhere.

  2. Know Your Customers

    What do you already know about the prospective buyers of your products? Are they young, old, urban or rural? Are they normally well-heeled or is money usually tight?

    In recessionary times like those that lie ahead, most consumers are typically much slower to spend, do much more homework and require a lot more reinforcement and validation before dipping into their wallet.

    The more you know about your customers, the more you can tailor your products to their needs -- including the types of products that you offer them, the words and pictures that you use to describe your products and the price points at which you position your products.

  3. Know Where to Sell

    Do you actually need a website to sell online? Not necessarily, but it will certainly enhance your offerings if you have an effective e-commerce site. Either way, you should list your products on the most appropriate online marketplaces. Your options might include Trade Me, The Market, Amazon and Google Shopping.

Of course, there is a whole lot more to online shopping then just those three elements – but if you can master those, you’re more than halfway there. If you’d like to learn more about online shopping, check out these online training courses on the topic:

This piece was supplied by Michael Carney, CEO of Netmarketing Courses, which provides online training in digital marketing and e-commerce. He is a longtime marketer and the author of the top-selling book Trade Me Success Secrets.