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COVID-19 presents online retailers with their one time to make a first impression

Thriving in a World of Zero Tolerance Shoppers

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COVID-19 has rampaged around the world, attacking citizens’ health, disrupting countries’ economies and changing the shape of retail worldwide.

In the U.S. alone, tens of millions have lost their jobs as a large-scale, months-long economic shutdown pushes the unemployment rate to Great Depression levels. And the fledgling reopening has been slow and tentative.

Meantime, ecommerce sales have flourished. With limited options for buying necessities and nice-to-haves, consumers have increased ecommerce spending by 51% by late May, compared to the end of February. Certain retail verticals saw advances far beyond that, and nearly all verticals have seen some increase in sales.

“What we’ve seen is just astounding growth,” said Signifyd Vice President, Operations & Corporate Development J. Bennett. “In general the growth of physical, shipped goods is across-the-board higher.”  

What you need to know
  • With many brick-and-mortar stores temporarily closed or slowly and unevenly opening up, retailers are seeing a huge influx of first-time online buyers in the COVID-19 era.
  • Consumers new to retail sites are forming long-term habits and deciding where they will spend their time and money in the future.
  • Despite the disruptions of the pandemic, retailers need to strive for a flawless customer experience to make the best first impression on new customers. It can be done

While that’s good news for ecommerce retailers, the better news is who is doing some of that buying. A world where social distancing is required and where all but essential retailers have been closed for long stretches, has prompted a significant number of shoppers to purchase online for the first time. 

“We are seeing the highest level of new users shopping online than we’ve ever seen before, outside of the 2019 holiday period,” Bennett said.

 In fact, the number of shoppers that Signifyd is seeing on its Commerce Network for the first time, was up 143% as of May 1, compared to Feb. 24, a shopping day that serves as a pre-COVID-19-pandemic baseline. 

For some verticals, the rush of new online shoppers was even more dramatic. Not surprisingly Grocery & Household Goods saw a tremendous wave of first-time digital shoppers as stay-at-home edicts rolled around the world. During the second week of March, the number of new shoppers buying groceries online increased 481% from the week before.

Every week has been Cyber Week when it comes to first-time shoppers

Signifyd’s data shows 341% more new shoppers buying in the Fashion, Apparel & Luggage vertical in the first week of May, compared to the last week of February. The bump for Home Goods and Decor over the period was 325%. Shoppers in the Leisure & Outdoor category increased by 295%. New Luxury Goods shoppers were up 249%.

Indeed, our strategic partner Namogoo recently released a survey in which 14% of consumers said they had shopped online for the first time as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Nearly half of these first-time online shoppers said they expected to continue shopping online after the COVID-19 period comes to an end.

No question the rush of new online shoppers is a big opportunity for ecommerce retailers, but it is just that — an opportunity. Retailers need to shine, despite all the pressures of the pandemic, if they want to make a good first impression and keep those new shoppers as loyal fans after physical shopping options open again.

How big an opportunity? Partners Signifyd and Namogoo have joined to sketch out the COVID-19-era retail landscape. And they have joined forces to ensure that the customer experience provided by online retailers is second to none. 

So, let’s take a look. Namogoo, which protects merchants from Customer Journey Hijacking by unsolicited ad injections, has broken out the increase in online conversions in the time of coronavirus. Namogoo tracked online conversions for six key retail verticals and compared online conversions during pre-COVID February and full-on COVID April. All six verticals saw increases in the double or triple digits in April vs. February. The top three verticals were approaching or beyond 200% when it came to increased conversions.

Namogoo chart on increase in conversions since the pandemic

The Namogoo numbers reflect a trend also found in data from Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse project. Signifyd has tracked a 51% increase in overall ecommerce spending between the last week of February and the end of May.

Electronics 109%
Fashion, Apparel & Luggage 37%
Home Goods & Decor 60%
Luxury Goods 39%
Grocery & Household Goods 40%
Auto, Parts & Tires 71%
Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis 60%
Business Supplies -28%
Leisure & Outdoor 137%
Consumer Medical Supplies & Supplements 32%
General Merchandise 49%
Beauty & Cosmetics 10%
Commodities & Collectibles 19%
Total 51%

And while the overall figure is impressive, the numbers in some of the verticals are eye-popping. Online spending in the Leisure & Outdoor vertical is up 137%, owing to indoor exercise equipment, puzzles, hobbies and video games being in the category. Electronics is up 109%;  Auto, Parts & Tires is up 71%; Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis is up 60% and Grocery and Household Goods is up 40%. 

As important as the increase in online sales is the dramatic increase in new online shoppers that Signifyd is seeing. At a time when customer acquisition costs through digital platforms like Google, Facebook and Amazon are generally on the rise, these new shoppers are extremely valuable.

Furthermore, Signifyd’s data shows that roughly 40% of new shoppers are returning at least once to shop again at merchants on Signifyd’s network within 30 days. In short, these new shoppers are building a habit. 

“The acceleration of that behavior will change the way the consumer spends,” Bennett says. 

So, what can online merchants do to ensure those new online shoppers latch on to their ecommerce sites as a go-to shopping site? It all starts with a flawless customer experience. Together Signifyd and Namogoo can tackle a big part of that.

Namogoo stops Customer Hijacking

Namogoo’s Customer Hijacking Prevention platform means that buyers’ shopping journeys won’t be interrupted by ad-driven injectors that divert consumers from a merchant’s site and direct them to a competitor’s site or promotion. The company’s year-round data shows that more than 20% of all ecommerce site visitors are disrupted by unauthorized ads that are injected into their web browsers.

Namogoo’s customer-side machine learning solution runs on every visitor session, which allows its technology to block invasive ad injections so that online revenue is not diverted from ecommerce brands and redirected to their competitors. 

Signifyd also lubricates the checkout process by ensuring that orders are not hung up in lengthy fraud reviews and that legitimate customers don’t see their orders falsely declined for fear of fraud or abuse. Signifyd’s Commerce Protection Platform combines machine learning, big data and human expertise to maximize ecommerce conversion, automate customer experience and eliminate fraud and customer abuse.

The company’s Revenue Protection solution instantaneously sorts fraudulent orders from legitimate orders and provides a financial guarantee that means merchants are made whole for any approved orders that turn out to be fraudulent. More importantly, it ensures that legitimate customers won’t see their orders declined for fear of fraud. There are few experiences more damaging to the retailer/customer relationship than accusing your customer of being a criminal.

On the post-purchase side, Signifyd’s Abuse Prevention solution automates the management of non-fraud chargebacks and provides a financial guarantee that protects merchants from losses when a customer claims an item was not received, for instance.

Together Namogoo and Signifyd provide a friction-free experience for shoppers that is uninterrupted by invasive ads or marred by false declines or lengthy manual reviews that delay an order’s delivery. 

Creating a memorable customer experience is always an important part of attracting loyal fans and building customer lifetime value. Never has it been more important than in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shelter-at-home lifestyles it has prompted.

Shoppers are building new, lifetime habits and retailers will want to make sure they are part of that new normal, today and into the future. 

Photo by Getty Images

Want to talk about how the combination of Namogoo and Signifyd can make fans out of your newest customers?

Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

Mike is the head of storytelling at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at