Beyond the lockdown
We all know the world has changed during this pandemic. Our behaviours, attitudes and motivations towards consumption have been brought into sharp focus. As we all face the prospect of having lockdown measure reduced, what does this mean for the future of how people consume products or services online?
- How has the recent pandemic changed our attitudes to buying or booking online?
- What additional information are users looking for when making purchasing decisions through e-commerce sites?
- What will the future look like?
Copy & Content
Information being articulated on websites, especially on e-commerce sites, have needed to drastically adapt to the current situation. Vital information and signposts being displayed have needed to react with the ever-changing world situation by informing customers of store closures, reduced operating hours, and limited delivery option.
As we ease out of lockdown, are we going to see greater presence of information regarding COVID-19 on e-commerce sites? Similar to banner blindness; are customers going to grow tired of reading about COVID-19 everywhere they look and begin to ignore this?
Looking forward, brands are going to leverage ways of continuing to trade via their websites, and pay more focus and attention to its online presence more so than their physical stores. So how will brands utilise their websites to clearly inform their customers of the latest news about their stores and beyond? Are we going to see more campaign-type content telling this story, more announcement bars being displayed on the homepage, or more pop-ups informing customers of urgent, breaking news?
One of the strongest sectors to have survived through the pandemic has been delivery services. Amazon is thriving during the lockdown as it continues to deliver vital goods to lockdown customers. Even restaurants have had to change tactics and provide greater options for delivery. For fashion and retail high street stores, their store closures have forced a heavier demand for delivery too.
After the lockdown, are customers going to continue to expect an improved level of delivery options? Or perhaps a greater level of accuracy of when customers would expect their delivery to arrive as more investment is being made to this part of the service?
What role will Click & Collect play following lockdown? The social distancing measures will most likely remain intact after the lockdown. High street stores may need to adjust what operating times are provided to customers who want to use Click & Collect to help avoid overcrowding in store. Would they introduce a ‘by appointment’ in-store collection service to help manage this, and perhaps we see a similar experience being planned out for customers wanting to physically browse in store?
How are customers going to be able to return goods during and after this lockdown? Reasons to return a product vary from customer to customer, but what tends to remain consistent is the ease at which customers can return their products.
Being able to pop into the high street store is currently not an option. So once the lockdown reduces, are we going to return to normal and what would the returns policy be if a product was bought during the lockdown and the stores were closed.
More recently, many brands have introduced an extension to their returns policy by providing a further 30-35 day period once the high stores are open again. Furthermore, some brands have even voided the returns period by allowing customers to make a return as long as they have a valid receipt of purchase.
What about those who are unable to leave their property as they may be self-isolating? Are we going to see an increased opportunity for delivery companies providing a returns service from a customer’s doorstep? How would this be operated and at what cost to the customer?
Elsewhere, one of the sectors that has been severely impacted is the Arts & Culture sector. We wonder, after lockdown, are users going to book cinema or theatre seats tickets with social distancing in mind? Do venues need to be super accurate with their seating plan information online or is this going to be up to the venue to administer? How are venues aligning their digital strategy to handle this situation?
To explore further, Darren, our head of UI at effect Digital, shared his thoughts:
It feels obvious to say but people’s attitudes will change, the Arts & Culture sector will need to adapt quite significantly, and they will need to do so in quick succession. It’s important as designers that we harbour this change and adapt accordingly where we can. I believe our methods to solve problems still apply, albeit slightly modified, to accommodate the new situation we find ourselves in.
Some museums and art galleries have introduced virtual tours through robots you can control from home. This is a great concept during the pandemic but this could become the norm going forward? It’s an opportunity for wider reach, an increase in “digital footfall” and would mean a wider audience reach. All positive stuff, but this will come with challenges along the way; what does the portal look like? How will the tools work? Where do we position these tools on screen? What screens will people being using? Although these are new challenges, we can still adopt our existing methods to tackle them, albeit slightly altered to accommodate for the shift in requirements.
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What does the future hold? As we have all experienced remote ways of living our lives, will there be a greater adoption and reliance of services online? Are we going to witness an increase in the amount of automated services to help us deal with unpredictable situations with store closures and staff being furloughed.
Simon, Head of UX at effect Digital, shared his thoughts:
COVID-19 has already changed the way people interact with products and services, and in a post COVID-19 world the UX design landscape will continue to be affected by this societal shift in attitude and behaviour. Social distancing will persist, if only out of an abundance of caution rather than official guidance.
Businesses understand the importance of UX design that reassures and provides guidance in a time when it may not be possible to speak to a human. People are now becoming more comfortable dealing with AI and automated systems to achieve their goals.
When we do come out of this lockdown, we will all thrive to achieve some sense of normality. What does normal look like after all of this?
As digital grafters, pioneers, and builders, we all have a fantastic opportunity to learn from this and build better experiences for customers and instil a sense of normality in their lives.
For now, let’s look forward to the future.
Thanks for reading