Covid-19 has completely changed the way we shop, accelerating the shift to e-commerce and away from physical stores by around five years.
“Online shopping around the world went into hyper-growth,” says Liat Karpel Gurwicz, head of e-commerce marketing for Wix.com, the £1.7 billion Israeli-founded company that enables people to design and build websites from scratch.
“With global online e-commerce already estimated to reach $5 trillion [£3.7 trillion] by 2021, the sector was already booming,” she says. “For years, the trend has been for more and more shopping to move online and for businesses to do the same. This hyper-growth just escalated that process.”
More than 500,000 businesses globally run their e-commerce website on Wix, now reportedly Israel’s second most valuable company.
Unsurprisingly, there was a huge jump in users when Covid-19 took hold as consumers shifted their buying online. Wix added more than nine million users in Q2 of the year and 7.8 million in Q3, a 42 percent jump year on year. Revenue for the third quarter grew 29 percent to $254.2 million (£190m).
In April and May, Wix’s top ten e-commerce products categories showed growth rates more than double last year’s, and growth of more than 700 percent growth in the number one category, food and groceries.
Karpel Gurwicz says people are now going online for a bigger range of items, including pet care, flowers and plants, health and beauty and home décor. “We are not done shifting yet,” she adds.
“A lot of businesses are still having to adapt and reinvent themselves and deal with the challenges of increased demand. They weren’t necessarily prepared with all the infrastructure and strategies in place. They moved online quickly and did the basics to start selling straight away, but are now expanding.”
Wix was founded in 2006 by brothers Avishai and Nadav Abrahami and Giora Kaplan. The idea was born on the beach as a result of their frustration with the complexities of website creation. It has grown into the world’s leading DIY web publishing platform with some 189 million users. Successful UK-based e-commerce ones include House of Sunny, Cleverchefs and Root plant shop, which moved online during the pandemic.
Headquartered in Tel Aviv, Wix employs more than 4,000 people across the globe. It is proud to give smaller players the tools to compete against larger brands and retailers. But never has the competition been so high when it comes to winning advertisers and shoppers, especially as we approach the holiday season.
“You have to stand out against that noise,” says Karpel Gurwicz, who joined the company in 2014. She has since led various marketing efforts for Wix, including growing its creative, professional and business audiences. So what are her top tips?
“Businesses need to get much better at honing in on their target audience and the right channel to get to that audience,” she says.
She also highlights fulfilment and supply chain issues and potential stumbling blocks. “My general advice would be to diversify suppliers, so if you run into supply and demand issues, you are able to shift and not have to shut down. Try to plan and stock inventories in advance and not solely depend on the supplier sending it for you.”
The typical ‘seasonalities’ a business might expect could look different this year, she says.
“In terms of early holidays sales, look at the data both from last year and from the early months of Covid – you need to cross-reference that data and try to predict what people will want to buy from you.
“Prepare your fulfilment and staff — make sure you know how you are going to be shipping all these packages and that you have enough hands on deck to do so. Don’t just rely on one carrier. And think about local delivery options and click and collect services.”
In terms of the actual website, she says businesses need to be constantly mindful of SEO and their product page. “Have rich descriptions, multiple images and videos and implement a live chat function that can improve
customer service and deal quickly with any issues before they escalate.” Wix websites that implement live chat report eight to 12 times higher revenues, and those that recommend products in the live chat report up to 71 percent more sales.
She is a strong advocate of abandoned cart recovery emails – customised reminders when someone has put products in their basket but not checked out. Automation of these emails can increase revenues up to 29 percent.
“Don’t be afraid to try things, to test and to optimise – see what works for you and your customers. 2020 has taught us how unpredictable the situation can be. Businesses that will succeed will be those that plan and have strategies in place for next year.”
Don’t be afraid to try things, to test and to optimise – see what works for you and your customers. 2020 has taught us how unpredictable the situation can be
The e-commerce revolution is only set to keep growing, particularly as countries face further lockdowns and restrictions. Shopping online is easier than ever before and consumers have got used to a better online experience.
“People’s habits have changed – they have been exposed to a new, more convenient way of shopping, and I think this is something people will want to continue with.”
So will all these trends stick post-pandemic?
“I think they will, but I don’t think people will replace every aspect of their shopping with online only. People enjoy the experience of going out and shopping.”
Liat Karpel Gurwicz
LIAT KARPEL GURWICZ’S TOP TIPS
● Be prepared -— plan and strategise
● Diversify suppliers
● Have a strong fulfilment strategy
● Plan and stock inventories
● Be mindful of SEO
● Offer collection options
● Get your website ready: implement live chat, images and videos
● Stagger holiday-season marketing efforts
● Send customised abandoned cart recovery emails
● Try things! Test and optimise
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