Consumers race online to equip the family for life under lockdown

Alison Wiltshire

02 Apr 2020

The scale of change to everyday life is almost unbelievable. Around nine in ten Americans are now under some form of lockdown. But human beings are hugely adaptable, and people are rapidly finding all sorts of ways of making life under lockdown as easy and enjoyable as possible.

To do that, we’re heading online like never before. Web traffic is already up by 50 per cent  and more than of half US consumers say they plan to shop online more as a result of COVID-19. They’re already buying consumer electronics and electrical goods that can make a positive difference to working, learning and playing remotely. Not to mention help with all that extra cooking… 

As many as 60 million to 70 million Americans may be working from home during the  emergency. To be effective, they’ll need computers, monitors, cameras, wireless routers and headsets. In addition, households where children might previously have shared a single computer for their homework in the evening now need additional devices to keep up with home schooling. Then there’s games consoles and TVs for entertainment and webcams for socialising – on 22 March 2020, US sales of webcams were up 534 per cent. 

And let’s not forget food and drink. Whole families at home all day means a deal more meal planning and preparation: refrigerators and freezers are in high demand. Or maybe a high-end food mixer, juicer or new grill to make up for missing out on favourite takeout treats?

However, as demand rockets, COVID-19 is disrupting the whole global supply chain, from manufacturing shortfalls through to freight constraints and logistics capacity as businesses seek to keep their employees and customers safe. Popular products are in short supply. In these circumstances, it’s important for retailers to communicate clearly with customers and help them make the best buys for their budget. After all, folks these days can’t easily pop out to return an unsuitable item to the store or via the postal service.

Carefully crafted social proof messages can help create a positive online experience. Some consumers will be shopping online for the first time and it’s important they are encouraged and supported during throughout the whole process. Deciphering technical specifications is hard enough even in store with a knowledgeable sales associate at hand. By showing that lots of others have bought this item, social proof creates trust in the product and the online sales journey. All visitors to a website will find it useful to be informed about bestselling items, stock levels and customer ratings (‘39 others have rated this 5 stars for quality’), details which can help them narrow down their choices. 

We know lots of people would much prefer to see and touch a TV screen or refrigerator in the store before deciding. With that option no longer available, those shoppers can be reassured online by the validation of others ‘5 people are looking at this right now’ or ‘14 of these purchased in the last 24 hours’. Social proof says it’s OK to buy even major household goods online because other people are doing it.

One of the more cheering aspects of the current crisis is how people are coming together to look after each other. In a small way, social proof messaging replicates this community feeling online, sharing the experience of all to help everyone make the right purchase. 

For retailers new to social proof, we can create and test messaging and get it up and running on your website in days. If you already use social proof, you might like us to work with you to make sure that the content and tone of voice is right for these uncertain times.

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