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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Expose: A Year In Review

Like the rest of the world, we were forced to jump through some unexpected hoops this year, from working remotely, to navigating the rapidly changing eCommerce landscape. There were definitely some ups and downs along the way, but as a team we managed to take these challenges in our stride and finish the year having doubled our annual Facebook spend, taking it from $9 million in 2019, to $18.77 million this year.  

We’re super proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and the part we’ve played in helping our clients thrive during these unprecedented times. So before we sign off to go eat our collective body weight in Christmas ham and pavlova, we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane and review the year that was!

What Happened…

When COVID hit back in March, we really had no idea what to expect. Our clients have businesses in many different industries and we didn’t know how the pandemic would affect them, let alone us. As restrictions began to ramp up, we were forced to say goodbye to a number of our service-based clients (gyms, hotels, travel) and as a result our web and design departments really slowed down. 

Internally, we were forced to virtualise our office in a matter of 3-4 weeks as ‘work from home’ restrictions were announced. Having no work from home protocols in place, we had to move extremely fast to get everyone set up remotely. This set up lasted roughly 8 weeks and although it was challenging for us as a team, its effect on the eCommerce industry was hugely positive. 

Global lockdowns set in motion the perfect storm for our eCommerce clients. With consumers spending more time plugged in at home, online shopping behaviours boomed and some of our clients actually had their best months on record during April, May and June. 

When restrictions began to ease and we returned to the office, it became pretty evident that consumer behaviour was forever changed by COVID and as a business we could either change with it, or risk sinking. 

What we learned…

Consumer Behaviour 

So what changed? Well, as a result of so many brick and mortar businesses going digital to remain relevant amid COVID restrictions, the amount of choice available for online shopping doubled. This increase in choice meant that consumers were forced to change the way they shop. In other words, if the same shirt is available at 3 different online stores, how do shoppers determine which one to buy?

According to our statistics, two main trends emerged:

Consumers are shopping smarter 

Obviously price point has always been a differentiating factor, but with increased job loss and unemployment, consumers have become even more cost savvy this year. This means a fair price point, discount codes and sales are more important than ever. 

Consumers are shopping according to their values

Perhaps the biggest change in consumer behaviour has been the lean towards value-based shopping. Consumers are concerned by what is going on in the world and want to support brands that are doing something about it. 

This year, for obvious reasons, this kind of value-based shopping has been particularly evident in the health and wellness space. Companies in this industry who worked on their brand story and emphasised certain values, were successful in getting consumers to trust them over their competitors. Why? Because they showed they care about their customers. 

Old Lessons Reinforced

In addition to these marked changes in consumer behaviour, this year also reinforced some old but important lessons. Namely the value of partnerships and the importance of online usability. 

In the same way online shopping increased due to COVID restrictions, the use of social media exploded this year - particularly apps like Tik Tok. Partnering with influencers on these apps has proven to be hugely beneficial in driving traffic and increasing brand awareness. One of our most successful clients this year, The Cooking Guild partnered with Tik Tok influencer ManWithAPot. Through this partnership we were able to break revenue records, in November we generated $1.2m in revenue, up 200% from the month before. 

Similarly, online usability has always been important, but with the recent influx of new online shoppers (including older people who might not have much digital know-how), it’s importance was reiterated to us this year. Ensuring the consumer is able to get where they want to go easily, without any barriers, does wonders for your conversion rate. 

What’s next…

So, with these findings in mind, let's talk 2021! We’ve got big plans for the new year and they all revolve around growth! 

We saw firsthand this year how effective an all-inclusive marketing team can be - that’s web design, creative content and ad management all under one roof. We set out in that direction at the beginning of the year and can’t wait to continue the journey in 2021. In particular we hope to grow our content team to increase capacity for in-house production and Shopify Plus builds. 

BUT for now, we’re signing off to celebrate the silly season and recharge, so we’ll be back better than ever in the new year!