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May 29, 2020   |   6 min read

Forced Adoption Has Led to Better E-Commerce Experiences

Emily Parham   |   Strategist

Have we been living through years of offline-to-online transitions in just three short months?

Stripe CEO John Collison thinks so, and he estimates the shift is substantial. In a discussion with Axios, he stated, "this is digital migration in a very compressed period of time, for both businesses and customers."

Collison says businesses that joined Stripe since March 1 have already generated nearly $1 billion in revenue. This includes Instacart, DoorDash, Postmates, and Zoom to name a few.

Stripe, a payment processing platform, is one of many companies actually seeing financial gains from lockdowns. But, has there also been a benefit for the customers of those businesses?

We wanted to take a closer look at some of the necessity-driven migration that’s lending itself to more seamless E-Commerce experiences.

Image of the shoplab website letting customers use the stripe payment method.
Photo: Shoplab’s use of stripe as its payment processing platform.

Adapting to the ‘new normal’ means something different for everyone, but for many of us, it means doing a lot more of our shopping online. Whether that be for groceries, household essentials, or food we don’t have to cook for ourselves, ordering online has been the safest way to secure those items.   

What does that mean moving forward?

In a study conducted by Prosper Analytics & Insights that surveyed over 8,200 participants, 30% plan to shop more online in the future. Interestingly, this trend generally holds across generations, ranging from 33.8% of 18-24 year-olds to 28.3% of those 65+.

With shopping online more prevalent in households across the country, merchants are quickly becoming more flexible to meet consumer expectations.

Businesses are Becoming More Accessible

Many businesses are implementing ways to meet customers where they are. Here we examine a few different ways accessibility has been brought to the forefront.  

Although expedited delivery is something consumers have been growing accustomed to largely thanks to Amazon, other businesses have begun to implement this same model as a first option for consumers.

Walmart accelerated its Express Delivery service from 100 pilot stores in mid-April to now 2,000 stores nationwide.

CEO Doug McMillon attributes the ramp up to evolving consumer expectations; “I think people have also come to see that the supply chain doesn’t just extend from a distribution center to the loading dock of a store. It goes all the way to the trunk of a customer’s car or their doorstep,” he said. “The so-called ‘last mile’ of delivery has become front and center. This is just speeding up the significant change the retail industry was already undergoing.”

Once consumers shift to adopting these services out of necessity instead of convenience, its likely this behavior is here to stay.

Financial Flexibility

Other industries have met customers where they are by being more financially accessible.

Buy now, pay later integrations are on the rise. Companies such as Klarna, Affirm, Afterpay, and SplitIt, which allow customers to pay for their purchases over time, sans interest, have seen increasing usage since 2018.

Now, with COVID-19 financially impacting consumers everywhere, they’re seeing surges in customers; AfterPay, an idea ironically hatched on the tails of the Great Recession, reported 4.4 million customers at the end of March (a 283% increase from the same quarter last year).

Image of Joybirds website dispalying otpion of interest-free payments.
Photo: JoyBird – a DTC furniture brand utilizing affirm to provide the option of interest-free payments to its customers.

Streamlined Checkout, Enhanced E-Commerce

With more and more consumers preferring to shop online for virtually anything they want – seamless, standardized e-commerce checkout experiences are quickly going to become the expectation. This will be especially true when it comes to Direct to Consumer models.

When you think of shopping in person, there isn’t much effort needed on the customer’s behalf. This standardization across in-person experiences are ones that doesn’t necessarily exist within the online experience.

Many E-commerce sites have adopted technology for easier and more standardized ways of checking out online, though. Take Shop Pay, which is Shopify’s checkout experience. Customers who have used Shop Pay one time will have their information securely stored so that any other site which uses Shop Pay, they’ll just have to click once to checkout.

E-commerce sites that have introduced this standardization through Shop Pay increased checkout speed by 4x that of conventional E-Comm checkout experiences. Not only that, online stores that integrate Shop Pay into their checkout experience convert purchases 1.91x times more than those going through regular e-commerce checkouts (forms, forms, and more forms).

Imagine if an experience such as this could be integrated and standardized across all e-commerce experiences and checking out online could be as dead-simple as inserting your credit card. Win. Win.

Image of a white cell phone displaying the allbirds shopping site
Photo: allbirds – a DTC shoe brand utilizing Shop Pay to create a seamless checkout experience. Users click ‘Buy with Shop Pay’ and their information is securely auto-populated for a quick, easy checkout.

Evolving What’s Currently Available

Shifts in consumer expectations and realities begs the question, how can these advances continue to create better and safer overall experiences?

Like Shop Pay, PayPal is known for creating easy to use, secure, and uniform checkout experiences across many online stores. To apply that same thinking and help consumers maintain distance while completing transactions in-person, PayPal has introduced contactless QR codes for payments.

PayPal QR codes are available in 28 markets worldwide including pop-up markets and resale shops. Not only are they widely accessible, but fees for QR code transactions are also being waived.

With demand for safer digital payments on the rise, PayPal’s QR codes supply that same security consumers trust while providing an additional layer of physical safety while shopping in-person.

Instead of having to pass cash back and forth at the Farmer’s Market, customers now have the option to just hold up their phone to be scanned for payment. Within a few seconds, you’re cleanly on your way with your fresh produce.

Image of a phone using the PayPal QR code to use as payment method.
Photo: Example of the PayPal QR code that will be scanned by merchants to accept payment from consumers.

Looking to the Future

This period is unprecedented and only time will tell if consumers will maintain their online shopping habits at this pace.

Although, looking to the short-term, a study done by McKinsey shows that American consumers expect to increase their online shopping across virtually all categories (save for Apparel and Skincare) in the next two weeks.

Beyond that, what we do know is there are opportunities for businesses to utilize this time of digital migration to not only meet customers where they are, but to build long-lasting customer habits.

By adapting to ever-evolving customer expectations and having the ability to pivot and/or ramp up new initiatives quickly, businesses should be able to expect consistent, growing business and loyal customers at the end of it all.

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