Voice of the Industry

Ecommerce in the US during the Covid-19 days

Tuesday 28 July 2020 08:18 CET | Editor: Andra Constantinovici | Voice of the industry

Sally Baptiste from Payment Operations Group gives a realistic account of what merchants should consider when trying to enter the US ecommerce market during the climate created by the Covid-19 pandemic

US ecommerce markets, like those around the world, are currently undergoing a seismic disturbance and few are prepared for it.

If one looks strictly at the numbers, ecommerce sales are growing above projections. In other numbers, US Consumer Confidence and spending in general is down. Merchants around the world have long eyed the US Consumer base but be careful about a move into this market right now because there are trends and changes afoot.

The biggest shift is within the product lines being sought by US Buyers. If you’re selling a product that will help folks stay home and stay safe, go for it! Be sure to offer the fastest delivery available but know your customers are ready and waiting. Sellers of non-essential goods are taking a hit right now because consumers here and around the world are shifting their priorities.

US Consumers are shopping more and buying less (relative to the number of searches they perform). This is odd for US buyers because they do not normally ‘look around’ – they see what they want and jump…Or they did last year. For non-US merchants this is a boon because you now have the ability to be lower in the search results and still get a browse. This new behavior will not last long after the Covid-19 pandemic fades so make sure to build brand loyalty now while you have an interested audience. You have at least 6 months and potentially as much as 24 months to make an impression on your target audience so make it count.

That brings up two topics – Target Audience and Making an Impression. In case you have not noticed, your target audience has changed. It doesn’t matter much who they were before Covid-19, they are a different cohort now. Some residents of the US are making more money being unemployed than they could with their jobs, some folks have seen all of their income dry up and are dipping into savings, and still others are looking to change their hobbies/pass times/focus. It is imperative that every merchant re-evaluate their target audience and, more importantly, listen to their customers, walk a kilometer in their shoes, and become the partner, not vendor, that they seek.

That leads to Making an Impression. Most US merchants are having a hard time catching up to their changing environment because they were so focused on what they wanted to happen that they missed what was happening. Locked in for Covid-19? Time for adopting a pet, home improvement and buying barley! You now have a house full of strange food stuffs? Make desert ravioli, sourdough bread and crafty signs for your windows out of candies from last Halloween! The US Consumer has a swiftly shifting focus related to what they want or need. What they do not shift quickly on is Social Justice and Change. 

Furthermore, they are not looking for a statement of support, they are looking for action. Show this audience that you mean what you say related to a social change topic and the US market will listen. Right now, they have time to listen, to research, to investigate. In a year, they will continue doing business with companies that showed they cared when it mattered (not just said) because they won’t have time to check the progress you’ve made. They have seen your initial steps toward Racial Equality, Climate Protection, and much more – and they will trust you to keep moving in the right direction.

Speaking of time, the US Consumer is notorious for holding tight their favorite payment types not daring or caring to adopt anything new. But now with a few extra months on their hands, they are exploring new methods of payment. It is not time to add anything to your checkout experience but it is time to watch – carefully. Some new payment type adoptions will occur and some will spike and fade. You would be well placed to add a checkout method (for US Consumers) that they have explored, decided they liked, and are comfortable with. Once it is determined that the US Buyer is ready to stay with their new choice, investigate it for addition to your site – It may help.

When looking to break into the US ecommerce market, always remember the Buyer and their preferences. As always, do not clutter the shopping experience, require fewer clicks at checkout, deliver product as fast as possible, and brace for higher fees and chargebacks. But for right now, learn more about your customer and take the time to become more than just a merchant to them – Become their champion.


About Sally Baptiste

Sally Baptiste has 30+ years professional experience with some of the largest US ecommerce acquirers. As a leader at Chase Paymentech, then a Senior Business Manager of payments for AT&T, she was employed as the payments expert for McAfee. With a Master of Business degree, she now co-owns her own consulting group of payment experts.

About Payment Operations Group

Payment Operations Group is a consultancy of payment professionals with over 40 years’ combined experience in the payments industry – from acquiring and ISOs to issuing and merchant perspectives. Our focus is on educating our clients with our end-to-end approach to payment processing, helping them navigate the complex ecosystem, and strengthening their position in their chosen processes.

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Keywords: Sally Baptiste, Payment Operations Group, US, United States, ecommerce, retail, marchants, buyer, consumer, COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic, consumer confidence
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: United States
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Payments & Commerce

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