The Covid-19 pandemic added impetus to digital commerce’s ongoing massive transformation. The stay-at-home orders owing to the pandemic compelled more consumers to shop online and triggered changes in shopping behaviour. According to McKinsey, ten years of e-commerce adoption was squeezed into just three months. At the same time, consumers now expect a wider assortment of items, more targeted promotions, and faster delivery from their online shopping destinations.

These trends combined with shifts in the supply chain and rapidly advancing technology have led digital commerce to an inflection point. In response, retailers, and consumer brands, need to accelerate their digital transformation. Enabling an omni-channel strategy, ensuring convenience and personalisation have become critical to attracting and retaining consumers.

Key aspects

Today, three key aspects related to the consumer’s online shopping journey have a tangible impact on the growth of retailers and brands.

Engage with the consumer at their place of choice: A recent global study revealed that the average time spent consuming digital content has more than doubled to about seven hours in 2020. Recent studies shows that while a user spends a significant amount of time online, most of it is in their preferred digital channel which is typically not a retailer or brand website or app.

While retailers and consumer brands will need to continue to offer a rich, personalised website and app experience, they will also need to engage consumers where the consumer already is in their daily digital journey. Businesses today are actively exploring how to insert themselves into a video game or a social media video or a chat conversation and enable purchases right there.

While these additional channels like social, chat, videos, e-gaming are unlikely to generate huge sales immediately, engaging consumers in these channels is necessary to generate brand awareness, induce trial and gain consumer journey insights.

The bottom line: To succeed in the rapidly evolving digital space, businesses must take advantage of new digital commerce tools to expand their presence across a wide variety of online channels, making it easy for the consumer to engage with you wherever, whenever they want.

Transform the shopping experience with live commerce: A popular concept in markets such as China and East Asia, live commerce effectively marries entertainment with instant shopping. According to McKinsey, companies report a ten times higher conversion rate through live commerce than traditional e-commerce.

For example, a brand can host a fashion show online and allow the audience to make purchases while offering a flash sale when the show is live, providing a truly immersive experience for the consumer. This concept can be easily extended to many use cases across industry segments. For instance, live commerce can enable virtual beauty sessions in the health and beauty segments. A beauty advisor can engage and educate consumers, leading them to trial and purchase.

The bottom line: Retailers and consumer brands must invest in necessary platforms to engage live with consumers and further translate the moment of engagement into a moment of transaction.

Integrate into the consumer's daily life through a super app: Again, originating from Asia, super apps are a one-stop-shop for the digital native online user. A super app allows users to access several services from a single app with minimal to no friction, where each service can be provided by an independent merchant.

Examples of successful super apps are China’s WeChat, Singapore’s Grab, and Indonesia’s GO-JEK. Super apps are also seeing increased traction in emerging markets like India, Middle East, Russia, LATAM (Latin America) and Africa.

As super apps grow in popularity, brands will want to participate in multiple super app ecosystems to drive additional consumer engagement. Super apps provide a scalable platform for the brands where it is easy to introduce new features and gain new customers at a lower acquisition cost.

Also, this ecosystem directs the consumer’s shopping behaviour as they can only access the apps within that ecosystem, driving additional traffic and sales towards those businesses that participate within that super app ecosystem. Brands can participate in a super app ecosystem by creating a specific mini-app or re-using their existing digital assets to integrate into the ecosystem and enabling consumers to conduct transactions seamlessly from within the super app.

The bottom line: While businesses will continue to host their websites or apps, they must also seriously consider the super app ecosystem for two key reasons: a source of valuable consumer data and as an additional sales channel.

Final thoughts

Online shopping is here to stay even after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides. Retailers and consumer brands must accept that the new normal will be a continuous market evolution and reorient their e-commerce and consumer engagement strategy accordingly.

They must constantly evaluate where to sell, what to sell and how to sell by monitoring trends closely. Staying tuned to consumer preferences and plugging insights from that back into their digital commerce platforms and supply chain will be essential for a business to succeed.

The writer is CEO, Infosys Equinox