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How to sustain ecommerce growth and build loyalty post pandemic ?

During the pandemic, brands and consumers alike have been on a complex journey of transformation, eventually emerging into markets that have been radically altered. Key to brand success in this rapidly evolving environment will be the ability to understand how customer behaviour has changed, and leveraging this information to develop new strategies to sustain digital momentum. 

In a nutshell

Online channels experienced an unprecedented boost in sales as a direct result of pandemic. Ryan Thomas, Director of Client Development at Epsilon, says this change will be long lasting, although its impact is likely to be tempered by the inevitable return to a mixed model of business. “Consumer behaviour has changed as people have learned that things are done more easily online,” says Thomas. “It won’t go back to where it was, but it will slow down,” he added. 

Change is the new normal for consumer behaviour

According to marketing leaders at a recent Campaign-and-Epsilon-hosted roundtable, consumer behaviour is in flux due to new megatrends such as hybrid working and the sharing economy. Digital advertising and consumer acquisition has to catch up and adapt to these rapidly evolving consumer needs.  

Sustaining the digital momentum

Brands that invested heavily in digital during the pandemic significantly accelerated their transformation journey. Research by Epsilon, in conjunction with Campaign, shows how keen they now are to protect those gains. 

  • 54.7% of respondents feel under pressure to earn enough online revenue to justify the investment in their ecommerce channels. 

  • 66.6% feel under pressure to exceed or equal revenues generated during the height of the pandemic, when nearly half (48.7%) had exceeded forecast customer figures. 

Deep dive – How Dunelm is sustaining growth

Home furnishings retailer, Dunelm, switched to online swiftly during the pandemic, benefiting from consumers’ new home-centred buying habits. The firm’s strategy was to focus on community rather than commerce across the business, especially in its customer messaging. 

Post pandemic the retailer is attempting to replicate its friendly in-store customer service across its ecommerce channels. One example is Dunelm’s evergreen content, such as click-and-collect emails and notifications, which is empathetic to customer-led journeys. 

“We were in the home sector when home was the most important place to be. We went from bricks-and-clicks to pure play for large parts of the time because stores were closed.” – Jemma Williams, Dunelm’s director of brands and marketing. 

The bottom line

Here are four strategies brands can use to maintain online growth: 

  • Leverage first-party data – The ecommerce boom has elevated the importance of first-party customer data. To be successful in this area, brands must ensure they offer a value exchange that goes beyond functional benefit and this must be clearly communicated to customers. 

  • Build customer loyalty Growing real loyalty-driven incremental value is more profitable than only focusing on customer acquisition. In world of frictionless ecommerce this can be achieved best through brand storytelling.

  • Replace cookies – First-party data is a great alternative to cookies, but brands must not overlook other sources of data. Every brand’s website is a data mine of signals but most are using about two percent of it. 

  • Deliver content of real value – Customer data should be used to create content that resonates with the individual and is delivered at the perfect points along the customer journey. 

Find out more 

For more insights download Epsilon’s new report How to Sustain the New Digital Momentum.