Little luxuries

For the last month or so, everyone’s been talking about ‘the new normal’ in terms of what happens when we come out the other side of the Corona pandemic. But given the speed and intensity with which the pandemic gripped the world, we wondered if basing future plans on what happened a month or even a couple of weeks ago, was too soon to be making decisions  on what’s next in a post crisis ecommerce world.

When you look at the massive spikes in both ecommerce transactions and regular grocery shopping that happened in March and April, both looked like that was a transition to a new normal and would keep going at the ‘new normal’ rate. However, as we enter May, things are beginning to move to a different trajectory – somewhat lower than what might have been predicted as the new normal.

In fact, we saw some new US research the other day that showed the massive spikes in online shopping going negative at the backend of April/early May as business and household budgets and un/underemployment start to bite and saturation points of certain types of product categories are starting to be reached – after all there’s only so much toilet paper you can have in reserve.

So where does that leave us in terms of what’s next in terms of post crisis ecommerce?

Well to a certain extent what’s next in terms of post crisis ecommerce depends (doesn’t it always) on a number of factors. Those factors will include things like what you sell, to whom, what your perceived pricing level is, how big your Covid spike (or your drop-off rate) has been; as well as the sustainability of your supply chain and your plan for the future.

One of the things we know from previous economic downturns is that not everyone experiences downturns the same way – albeit the outcomes for this post crisis ecommerce experience might be a little different to what’s gone before just because the world is quite different from the 80s, 90’s and even from the GFC.

But most likely some things will stay the same in that some people/businesses thrive and others do less well. In general what’s happened previously is that people are likely to be conservative for quite a while and there will be very few folks likely to throw money around in a big cash splash. Although there will be business owners with access to funds to exploit opportunities that arise. But let’s talk about customers for a minute – what do we know about what they’re likely to do.

In downturns, demand for expensive luxury items (think luxury branded handbags, fashion, cars, travel) tends to drop. What does tend to rise in a downturn in terms of demand are perceived personal luxury items – items that deliver a perceived level of extra comfort, desirability, performance, value – a level of ‘extra’ whatever your customer deems is personally important to them. In fact we’ve seen it reported already. During April, Woolworths sold far more of their most expensive cuts of meat than usual. Can’t go out for dinner? That’s okay we’ll eat beef eye fillet and/or a bucket of prawns instead.

And so it will be with what customers are looking for over the next weeks and months – something that feels like a bit more of a luxury to them that doesn’t cost them truckloads extra than the more ‘regular’ item. Think cashmere sweaters, silk or bamboo pyjamas, personalised fragrances, personalised baby/children’s (or fur-baby) products, extra services to complement those products.

Another thing that we might also start to see, is a return of nostalgia items – things that represent a harking back to the ‘olden days’ when it was a ‘better time’. Who knows that might even include a return to crochet tea cosies (watch this space).

What all of this boils down to is that whatever it is that you’re currently selling, think about how you can make your customer’s experience with you just a little bit more special for them. How can you add a layer of little luxury or note of nostalgia that makes things better, even if just for a moment?

Of course, timely delivery is part of a great customer experience and we can help with that. If you’re looking to up your customer experience game, we’d love to chat. You can call us on 02 9828 0111 or get in touch via the form below.

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