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How the Pandemic Has Changed Consumer Expectations While Accelerating Ecommerce in Canada

A new survey by SOTI, a provider of mobile and IoT management solutions, finds that the COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed consumers’ expectations for retailers and accelerated online shopping trends.

According to the global research report commissioned by SOTI, From Bricks to Clicks: State of Mobility in Retail 2021 Report, in order for retailers to stay competitive in the new normal and excel, there needs to be a more efficient and seamless return process, delivery times need to be faster, and there needs to be better protection of personal and payment data.

Ryan Webber
Ryan Webber

Also, an expert in the area of e-commerce, David Nagy, Founder of eCommerce Canada, is sounding the alarm bells about the already over-saturation in the market of online retailers.

“Speed and transparency are just as critical as user interface and inventory,” said Ryan Webber, SVP of Enterprise Mobility, SOTI. “This requires significant backend infrastructure and mobile tracking to create a seamless consumer experience. Our advice to retailers is to pay closer attention to their consumer experience and how they can track and receive the item they purchase, as it is just as important as the item itself. If the past year has taught us anything, it is that having a mobile strategy is business-critical.”

Canadian results from the survey show:

  • 82 percent are comfortable using any delivery options from home/convenient location;
  • 70 percent are expecting any safety features implemented in-store for the pandemic to remain post-pandemic;
  • 67 percent want to know where their order is from the moment they order it until it’s in their house;
  • 66 percent expect any payment features implemented for the pandemic to remain; and
  • 65 percent believe the returns processes should be more automated to make the experience faster.

Canadian results were higher than those overall for the following:

  • 47 percent are more comfortable with contactless ‘tap’ payments post-pandemic;
  • 29 percent believe the pandemic will overtake retailers who don’t master the delivery experience; and
  • 24 percent said they would like sales associates to use in-store price and stock-check devices to help choose the right product.

“The consumer expectation experience has fundamentally shifted. Obviously the pandemic has caused a huge impact,” said Webber. “What we’re finding the biggest change is around the customers adopting this new online e-commerce experience. What’s interesting is the impact it has had on retail across Canada and how they’ve had to adjust to it.

“It’s all around the modernization of the customer experience and the modernization of the actual retail environment itself. There was a huge investment in technology in 2019 in North America straight across the board and what we found with the customers is they had plans to adopt a more omni channel experience that would incorporate a seamless experience for the user going online and shopping online when they come in the store. But what happened with the pandemic is that it rapidly accelerated that change and through that rapid change it created a lot of potential gaps. What I mean about gaps is around the technology that they were using.”

Calgary-based eCommerce Canada was founded by e-commerce entrepreneurs with more than 50 years of experience, whose companies have directly sold more than $100 million of goods and whose clients have exceeded $1 billion in internet sales. Its purpose is to help companies in their online and digital journey in the marketplace.

David Nagy
David Nagy

Nagy, with more than 15 years in the area of digital consulting, made his mark as one of the founders at LiveOutThere.com in 2009. By 2012, LiveOutThere was one of Canada’s fastest growing businesses employing over 50 people. Nagy has led projects with notables such Virgin Mobile, HBO Comedy, General Motors, Rocky Mountain Soap Company, Livify, and many others. As a coach, consultant, trainer, and keynote speaker, he has worked with organizations such as Canada Post, Global Affairs Canada, Digital Mainstreet, HRIA, and more.

“Right now we’ve overpopulated the space already. Consumer demand across the board, if you combine bricks and clicks, has certainly not grown over the last 12 months. We are seeing an obvious and natural deviation or shift to internet shopping and I think that’s normally to be expected,” said Nagy.

“But putting everyone on the internet is fundamentally diluting everyone’s profit opportunity and is impacting the healthy, resilient businesses that will be there. Everybody is racing into this thing without understanding what that means. One of the metaphors that I would give is if I walked out on Stephen Avenue and I saw eight cookie shops within line of sight, there’s no fathomable way that I would open up another cookie shop, is there? But online we do that every single day. Online the barrier to entry is so low and the belief that the opportunity is so great, with no cost against it, is so high that everybody just rushes headlong into it with no competitive analysis of trying to figure out how this is going to work.

“So what we’re doing is creating this overpopulation of insignificant businesses that don’t have the financial wherewithal really to scale or to create jobs or to contribute positively to the economy. And I don’t expect them to be here two or three years from now. There’s going to be a mass culling at some point.

“Even at $29 a month, there’s no making money just because I have a website. Building websites is fundamentally easy. but selling things on the internet is hard. There will be a massive attrition at some point and that attrition will be positive because it will allow more mature, more resilient and more financially resilient businesses to acquire assets for pennies on the dollar in a way we never have before. When you get a mass wave of kind of insolvencies, all of a sudden those databases, those websites, those website domains, maybe some of the talent, maybe some of the decent people that work for a small web company, will be on the market and they’ll be cheaper than they have been before.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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