According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, retail e-commerce sales for the second quarter of 2020 totaled nearly $200.7 billion. This amounts to an increase of 37% from the first quarter of 2020, with third quarter retail e-commerce sales holding steady at nearly $199.5 billion. According to eMarketer, Americans will spend over $709 billion on e-commerce in 2020, representing an 18% increase from 2019, while 2020’s brick-and-mortar spending will decrease 14%.
Projected to reach 14.5% of all retail sales in 2020, e-commerce is at an all-time high. As coronavirus cases surge to record high numbers and more cities enter lockdown during the holiday season, consumers are even more incentivized to shop online, with a preference for retailers that offer convenient purchase and pick-up options aligned with all of the necessary safety precautions.
Forbes Agency Council member Terry Tateossian is Founding Partner at Socialfix Media, a 15-year-old agile digital agency, where she spearheads marketing technology initiatives, client strategy, acquisition and creative development utilizing aggressive growth strategies and leading-edge digital solutions for a wide client roster. She said 2020 will be remembered as the highest year-over-year increase in e-commerce spending since the industry’s inception in the late 1990s – and her clients and reaping the benefits.
“For online stores specializing in key industries such as food and beverage, cleaning products, PPE, sports and entertainment, we’ve seen a 30% lift in online sales across the board. This was irrespective of whether the client was a B2B, D2C or B2C retailer. Everyone who had e-commerce enabled saw a significant increase in online sales beginning in March 2020,” she said.
Having received certificates from MIT in the fields of AI business applications and blockchain technology, as well as numerous awards including recognition for leading one of Inc.’s 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America, Tateossian said this huge increase in e-commerce requires retailers to get more creative with their customer journey and online shopping experience. “Competition is getting more fierce and the need to offer a better value, better experience, better customer service and align with consumer values is greater than ever,” she said.
Socialfix’s speciality services, including web design and conversion optimization, allow clients to initiate customer journey improvements throughout the entire e-commerce funnel, boost shareable content development, better analyze email drip campaigns and customer nurturing programs and maximize search engine optimization. “The result for local Main Street businesses dipping their big toes into online sales and marketing is that the market has never been more ripe for new entrants,” Tateossian said.
As a digital marketing agency founder, Tateossian said her goal and professional purpose has been to trailblaze the way for clients looking to capitalize on emerging trends. “Over the years, my advice to brands has been to create a seamless omnichannel shopping experience and close the ‘last-mile’ by offering on-demand availability as well as buy online, pick up in store (BOPUS) experiences, even for Main Street businesses.”
This advice has withstood the test of time during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. “About 75% of our client base has seen drastic shifts in consumer behaviour and has pivoted and adjusted accordingly,” she said. Homing in on search engine optimization, paid search and social and extreme website conversion optimization, Socialfix has been able to not only retain clients’ revenue but also grow their sales and customer acquisition.
Instead of viewing the coronavirus pandemic as an innovation deterrent or a roadblock to growth, Tateossian advises brands to create a silver lining by using the crisis to anticipate and meet future challenges head-on. “For example, now would be the time to encourage brands and companies to reconsider their e-commerce strategy,” she said.
As Main Street businesses and SMBs face impending lockdown restrictions throughout the world, Tateossian believes offering consumers the ability to find and shop for goods from the comfort of their homes will be essential for most companies. “A successful digital strategy in 2020 is the difference between surviving or thriving in today’s economic atmosphere.”
In her experience, almost every company in every industry can benefit from increased automation as well as a D2C channel of consumer acquisition and a fully functional mobile-first website strategy. With many disruptions in the supply chain due to the pandemic, she’s seen many traditionally B2B industries, including food and beverage retailers, fitness equipment manufacturers and telemedicine providers, jump into the D2C pool.
As brands and SMBs become increasingly omnichannel-savvy and enterprise-level players enter the social media and digital space at a much faster rate, Tateossian views the increased competition as a good thing for brands and consumers. “Everyone will be required to stay proactive, innovate and always keep the consumer front and center. At the end of the day, offering the right product at the right time to the right audience is what truly great marketing is all about.”