D2C & Omnichannel Ecommerce Evolution Through Crisis and Beyond

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D2C & Omnichannel Ecommerce Evolution Through Crisis—and Beyond

Ecommerce order fulfillment evolution through crisis

Crisis leads to changes in consumer mindsets and purchasing habits, and it’s been a wild ride for ecommerce sales recently. Nielsen reported a 25% jump in ecommerce as of just March 22. Analysis on April 7 showed a regional match-up between quarantined living and online purchases—especially for certain categories. It’s about safety, but it’s also about comfort and relieving the stress and boredom of stay-in-place orders. Did you know baking mixes jumped by a factor of almost 5, and chocolate by 3? Leisure clothing, health & wellness products, and many other categories were affected.

With fewer store visits, panic buying, and stockpiling, many aspects of supply chains have been upended. Order fulfillment processes have been disturbed, and some timelines have grown longer. Consumers have prioritized safe shopping and have looked to brands who are on board with their revised lifestyles. 

How D2C and omnichannel consumers will change

Nielsen suggests 6 “consumer thresholds” that characterize consumer behavior now. They say that consumers have gone from proactive buying (#1) to reactive (#2) to pantry preparation (#3) to quarantined living and then restricted living (#4, #5). Strains on the supply chain have been evident.

What’s next? Nielsen predicts Threshold #6, a “new normal,” in which people will eventually “return to daily routines but operate with a renewed cautiousness about health”. One of the seismic shifts we can expect is greater adoption of technology. People have had to embrace technology and try new things to cope with the demands of earlier thresholds. Some habits, such as increased reliance on ecommerce, are not likely to unwind. 

Evolving Ecommerce Fulfillment Infographic

Ecommerce and consumer habits

Beyond crisis response—how do you ride this wave for the future? First, understand that consumers have been operating from new priorities—health, safety, and seeking comfort. Some of this will persist. 

Next, realize that while economic movement is complex and analysts have no ready answers, consumer psychology is involved, too. Pamela Danziger speaks with a consumer psychologist in Forbes who says that we may purchase in ways that reinforce identity and exert personal values. This could mean, “People may be more likely to choose environmentally-conscious brands in the future… And it may predispose them to indulge in more luxury purchases as significant to their self-esteem.” 

In fact, another psychologist cited in the article predicts “many may make purchase choices that are deemed more luxurious” because of the social meaning derived. Yet another angle Danziger brings out is the need to feel in control—for example, by up-spending, buying more upscale products, in order to organize the household in a more appealing way. 

Ecommerce and your brand(s)

Recent months have been a time of crisis, which has rocked the boat of consumer mindsets and purchasing habits. Consumers have been more open to trying new products and trying new brands. Going forward, the brand experience you create through your order fulfillment center could have a major impact on what happens next for your D2C sales and omnichannel fulfillment.

How have you kept in touch with customers when products were out of stock or fulfillment delays occurred? What have you done to earn customer loyalty through these difficult times?

Recalibrating your order fulfillment center

Now is the time to understand what consumers want now and earn their loyalty through:

  • Transparency and strong customer communications about order status: Simply keeping in touch matters now more than ever.
  • Warehouse inventory accuracy, which equips to provide quality products in a timely manner and manage any issues around potential recalls or quarantines.
  • Order accuracy provide something certain in uncertain times, and that carries weight.
  • Loyalty programs or simple offers for repeat purchases can help your customers align or re-align with your brand.
  • Optimized order fulfillment systems: Is your fulfillment center nimble enough to scale up or down through tumultuous times? Are you able to adjust shipping methods and still manage costs? Learn more about how to optimize your fulfillment center network. 
  • Kitting and bundling around a consumer sentiment: Whether it’s health and wellness products or household solutions, you can invent product groupings that connect with consumers’ evolving motivations.

As many things fly up into the air, now’s the time to engineer where and how they fall. It could be an opportune time to evaluate your order fulfillment partnership against the new demands of the marketplace. It could be the right time to refine your CX and re-pave your path to loyalty.

Call on the order fulfillment center experts

Call on the expertise of an order fulfillment and last mile delivery partner who can help you navigate challenges and position you for increased business performance. Contact us online or call 800.475.0917.

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