2021 is here and with it, a lot of hope mixed with speculations. The pandemic has changed the way we interact with each other now and for years to come. This includes online shopping habits. Clearly, what the world has witnessed in the past year, cannot be unseen. How it’s changed behaviors cannot be ignored.
Many major changes and life adaptations after COVID-19 are driven by economic interests. This includes the ratio of time spent working from home, versus from the office. It’s likely though, we will revert back to pre-COVID forms of interaction because fundamentally, humans are creatures of habit.
The pandemic has impacted all forms of daily routines. We are aware to the danger of unsuspected developments. We know that what’s happening now, can happen again. It’s a new sense of vulnerability. If you find yourself watching a clip from Woodstock of happy hippies in a green meadow, swaying to the music, all you can think of is the lack of social distancing and no masks! Physical proximity, physical expressions of affection, have come to mean something else entirely in the span of a few months.
At the same time, human nature remains unchanged. People are essentially hardwired to need social interaction. “Social interactions are proposed to be a basic human need analogous to other fundamental needs such as food consumption or sleep”. Orben, Tomova, and Blakemore (2020). That has not changed. In fact, I would argue, it’s become critical.
A Natural Progression for Social Shopping
Over the past 20 years, more and more of our activities have moved online. Pre-COVID, online shopping was merely about convenience. It allowed busy people to handle multiple daily tasks quickly with little interruption. But in 2020 it quickly became a survival tactic. As a result, the collective “we”, learned that shopping online is safer and more convenient. And during lock-downs, it was the only available option for necessities. It’s predicted that it will take years for consumers to feel safe shopping in brick-and-mortar stores and malls. What do the numbers suggest? Online shopping, not surprisingly, was up by 45% globally according to Salesforce. What does this mean? It means that consumers, when faced with an obstacle, move their hunting and gathering to the Internet. It’s that simple. Because of the Internet’s many advantages, trends that started long before COVID will only continue to gain momentum. Merchants should be hyper-focused on what that experience is and should be. This means experiences should be streamlined for efficiency, enjoyment, and safety vs just a means to an end. This is the natural progression. It was already headed that way. COVID expedited things.
Bridging fear & practicality
The “fear factor” is real. One way to overcome and bridge our new fear of physical exposure, while still craving that human connection, is to use social shopping platforms. Social shopping was developed over a number of years as a way to compensate for a major drawback; the inability to interact with others while online. Now the internet is providing e-tools to satisfy our basic need to be part of human society. By enabling customers to effortlessly share thoughts, opinions, and ideas with others the decision-making is faster. Leaving a site to get an opinion is not the desired experience. Customers get frustrated, merchants get abandoned carts. All because they need that social context to complete the experience. Gamitee’s social shopping platform offers a perfect way both now and in the future to stay social and safe. We understand how important a truly social experience is. People need people. COVID reminded us of just how much.
“Socializing is a fundamental human need, and social distancing hinders it, which ultimately affects our mental wellness”
(Kevin Sikali, The dangers of social distancing: How COVID‐19 can reshape our social experience, Journal of Community Psychology, 2020)