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April 28, 2020, 2:51 p.m.

Adapting to changing behaviours arising from COVID-19

A few observations to ensure all the elements surrounding your actual product don't let you down in this heightened period of ecommerce

Many industries are still living through the peak of this pandemic and hoping for a quick return to normality, however, with consumers having been and being forced to trust and depend upon online services, we are seeing early behavioural changes in consumer habits that may forever remain changed, despite the lockdown easing due to the following three catalysts:

1. Perceived Quality of a product.

2. Availability/Deliverability of a product

3. Technical Platform

In order to prepare for the shifting trends businesses can look to do the following:

Communicate the Quality
Throughout this period due to reliance on distant selling consumers will be looking for greater quality assurances, by analysing the packaging, branding and online audience a brand has.

In the short term we saw people panic purchasing anything and everything regardless of product quality due to concerns about availability and scarcity, however, as supply chains rebound and consumers adapt to the short term and medium realities of lockdowns, consumers have time to compare and evaluate their brand choices.

Long term changes: People will change how they evaluate a brand before making a purchase, more dependency on digital content and reviews, the visual aid of packaging design will become a core determinant of quality.

Once caught, forever buried. With increased awareness about the fragility of health, consumers will be more questioning of food brands and their supply chains. Higher standards of transparency will be expected about products, so promoting sustainability, local origins and ethical standard may well entice consumers but will also bring you under greater scrutiny, so be sure to print the truth as consumer trust is fragile.

Adapt to Technology
The easier the experience, the less perceived barriers and greater trust in the brand. If you’re website still looks like it was made 5 years ago its time to change, luckily for most SME’s ecommerce platforms can get you up and running the same day if you know what you’re doing for little cost.

Beyond commerce, your perception is defined by your presence online be sure to actively engage with your target market online to show yourself as a knowledge driven brand.

Further adding to this point you must ensure your online presence matches your delivered product if you want people to remember you. This doesn’t necessarily refer to solely the product as often we’re selling other brands but relatable packaging with matching brand themes could add some significant value, as people will recall upon their experience when they see this a perfect example is the Harrods green, or the Selfridges yellow or if we move away from luxury to online retailers we have ASOS & Amazon and yes they all emphasis branding but in actual fact they’re reminding people of the perception of quality & experience they’ve created that is unique to them.

Deliver the Quality
The intangible quality factors such as perception and experience now need to become tangible which can be achieved in two parts:

Part 1: Selecting the correct delivery medium, people actually get anxiety waiting for deliveries. If your product complies with the Royal Mail letter sizing’s go with that! Its probably quicker than arranging a courier and more cost efficient.

Part 2: Ensuring your product packaging is flexible enough to sustain a few bumps causing pressed corners here and there without degrading its value. Think of it this way, if the many sitting at home today decide to do an opening / unpacking video how good would your product look with a bent corner? So in short boxes are out of the picture unless you want to buy bubble wrap, add additional delivery costs that are passed down to the buyer and then get scolded for damage which was out of your control.

So what’s left? You can go more flexible make use of flat bottom bags they provide a similar box shaped feel and a look that is elegant or you can go more rigid by looking at metals or double packing which of course will get you scolded for not being considerate about using suitable packaging.