The age-old fight to find new customers and retain existing ones is the biggest business challenge ahead for many companies this year. 

This post is part of ZoomInfo’s 2020 Annual Report series.

Economic hardships created by government responses to the pandemic have not always been fair. Throughout America, restaurants and movie theaters have shut down, while across the street grocery stores and tech firms stay afloat. 

The new year will require businesses to use technology to accommodate at-home customers, both B2C and B2B, with even quicker, more efficient online options. Doing so will boost a broad, positive customer experience

Shopping carts roll to customers’ homes

Online shopping has long trended upward year over year — up 3,500% during the last two decades, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — thanks to the pervasiveness of the internet, mobile phones, and social media.

However, eCommerce has become an outright juggernaut in these recent, strange times. Think of what you bought on the web for the first time in the past year: Groceries? Takeout? Face masks?

A survey in April 2020 from RBC Capital Research showed that 42% of respondents purchased groceries online at least once a week, up from 22% in 2018, as reported by GeekWire. 

Those numbers foretell a permanent shift in grocery buying, GeekWire added. 

Other products likely have seen similar patterns, which isn’t a surprise. As the world battled COVID-19, companies needed to meet their customers where they were: at home. In response, eCommerce sites sprouted up in greater numbers in 2020, according to ZoomInfo’s data. 

Figure 1: Companies began adding more eCommerce technology as the first wave of the pandemic took hold. Source: ZoomInfo.

The technology helped companies to curb losses and hold onto customers. ZoomInfo found an average of just under 48,000 companies per month added shopping cart technology from March through August 2020, compared to about 36,500 companies per month from January through February 2020. That’s an increase of more than 30%.

As a further snapshot, August 2020 saw 56% more online shopping carts added by businesses compared to February 2020.

Customer experience grows as a competitive advantage

The same technology advances that have pushed forward eCommerce since 2000 have also changed the way companies build customer loyalty. Personalization, automation, and mobile apps allow companies to capitalize on specific customer data and buttress customer experience. 

Regardless of whether customers were in the B2C or B2B world, if they couldn’t order products during pandemic lockdowns or were unable to contact sellers, they likely took their business elsewhere in short order. These failures in customer experience may keep lapsed customers away for good.

“With more options at their fingertips than ever before, customers demand a buying experience that is tailored to their specific wants, needs, and interests,” we wrote previously on this blog.

Perhaps never has a new year presented such a slew of fresh needs and interests for customers as we now see coming in 2021, especially as people hope to safely emerge from the pandemic.

With public health restrictions still in effect likely for the next six months, expect customers to lean even more heavily on eCommerce to meet their demands.

In the second half of the year, after mass vaccinations hopefully dim the spread of the coronavirus, eCommerce won’t diminish. Rather, online options will remain a vital option for sellers, and buyers must fine-tune this aspect and recharge their business to achieve greater customer loyalty.

ZoomInfo’s 2020 Annual Report Series

To browse through more go-to-market trends and 2021 business predictions, continue on to ZoomInfo’s latest Annual Report: Going to Market Smarter in the New Economy.

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The ZoomInfo Editorial Team

The ZoomInfo Editorial Team is our data-driven storytelling team.

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