The situation caused by COVID-19 has accelerated digital adoption. The growing use of technology to work, play and stay connected has defined new digital habits. Now that many countries are in different phases of recovery, it’s time to adapt, implement changes, and think big to transform your business operations so that they meet the digital expectations that have arisen. Our goal is to help businesses understand the changing needs of consumers to prepare for the future and respond to recovery signals as they appear.

Let’s look at the most important digital habits that have emerged so far and how you can adapt to this new normal.

The impact of accelerating digital adoption on consumer behaviour

The search insights available in Google Trends show that consumers are increasingly using the Internet to do what they did offline. Unsurprisingly, given the confinement measures of many countries and that online channels have been the only way to connect with people with whom you do not live. Ok, let’s get into what is Digital Adoption. The interesting thing has been to see how quickly that digital adoption has occurred and the variety of online services that have been offered and leveraged.

Consumers will continue to buy more online

During confinement, the online channel has become the default means of purchase for many consumers. Since the beginning of March, the search interesting “Online Store”and “how to buy online”has doubled worldwide. In the UK alone, online shopping increased to 30% of purchases made in April. In March, this percentage was 22%. It is likely that the number of visits to physical stores will take a long time to return to pre-pandemic numbers.

This is indicated by Google’s mobility reports, which show trends in displacement by geographical areas and classified into different categories of places, such as shops and entertainment spaces, supermarkets and pharmacies, and public transport stations. Generally speaking, these reports show that travel around locations in the “Supermarkets and Pharmacies” category remains below the January and February values in many countries. Industry data also confirms that the number of store visits remains below the 2019 number in countries such as Italy, the United Kingdom and Sweden.

Changing consumer needs have led to new digital habits

While digital adoption has accelerated in the e-commerce sector, stores are not the only ones that have focused most on the online channel—if any, to meet customers’ needs during confinement. We have also seen digital adoption increase considerably among consumers, who have turned to the Internet to do things they had not done online (or not so much), such as “try on” virtually, attending “online classes”, requesting”home tea delivery”, participating in some “virtual pub quiz”, opening a “live chat” or attending some “virtual gym”. Search interest in all these terms has increased worldwide.

How accelerating digital adoption is influencing businesses

Whether for transactional, educational or personal purposes, it is clear that people have turned to digital channels to meet their needs in many aspects of their lives. Because of this change, they no longer expect only the online experience offered to them before this situation, but their expectations for the digital world are now much higher. That’s why every business, whatever their vertical size and size, must accelerate digital adoption and transform their operations to reach their customers at all times, wherever they are, and give them the experience they expect.

Companies must embark on digital transformation to adapt to these times

A new McKinsey report shows that almost every business, from traditional to emerging, is reorienting their business models to be more digital as a direct result of the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on changing consumer behaviors. Last year, we explained that having an excellent digital marketing strategy could translate into up to 20% more revenue and a cost reduction of up to 30%.

At the time of BCG’s study from which this information was extracted, only 2% of participating companies had reached the multi-move phase of their digital marketing development, while the rest were in the previous phases.

The study identified six factors for achieving digital maturity. In recent months, when more and more companies have had to accelerate their digital transformation, these factors are more important than ever. These include:

  1. Link your own customer data to multiple touchpoints
  2. Link marketing goals to unify brand goals
  3. Automate tasks and adapt messages for maximum impact
  4. Create strategic partnerships with shared marketing goals
  5. Train and hire staff with advanced knowledge of data science and analytical skills
  6. Having agile multipurpose equipment, and a willingness to learn by trial and error

The full report delves into every aspect and gives useful advice to companies that want to move on to the next phase of their development process towards digital maturity.

The telework has arrived to stay

 As local governments are allowing them to return to offices and it is safe, many companies are trying to do so in phases. In this context, the forms of work are expected to be made more flexible, especially given that 23% of workers say they want to telework more frequently.

This means an increased need to digitize internal operations so teams can continue to telework without interruption, and has also led to high demand for home equipment and technology products to perform office tasks, such as video calling software. For example, since January, we’ve seen how the peak daily use of Google Meet, a free service, has been multiplied by 30.

Adapt, implement changes and think big: the time for transformation has come

 Now, your customers and staff spend more time interacting and working across digital channels. That’s why it’s more necessary than ever to transform all areas of your business. It’s critical to connect with your customers wherever they are and give them the experience they expect and to manage your business effectively in the long run. Here are four strategies worth adopting to achieve this:

  1. Adapt at all times to the needs of your customers

Consumer behavior is rapidly and unpredictably transforming due to changes caused by the pandemic. This makes it increasingly important for advertisers to know at all times what users are looking for and which business categories are becoming more popular faster, allowing them to adjust their bids accordingly.

  1. Implement changes quickly and act more quickly

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, many companies had to adapt their campaigns to show the right creatives at the right times. Some companies even fully adapted to other areas to respond to changing consumer demand. Acting quickly and quickly is not only important and useful during pandemics, but also helps advertisers be more prepared for any changes that may occur.

  1. Analyze your own data in a responsible way

Own data—customer information from CRM and touchpoints—can be critical to improving companies’ digital marketing capabilities, adapting to new normality, and laying a firm foundation for the future. This data is company-specific and provides valuable information about the customers and the type of products or services they are looking for. You can leverage your own data in a responsible way by defining a fair and transparent value exchange with your customers. This will help you create better online experiences and strengthen relationships with them, ultimately resulting in more conversions and a higher return on investment.

  1. Think big and rethink your business model

In a dynamic environment, many advertisers have focused on implementing short-term solutions to address the challenges that have affected their businesses. Now that we’re moving on to the recovery phase, it’s time to think big and use those solutions as the foundation of a revamped, more agile business model. Automation can be a particularly useful tool to capture changing demand in the most efficient way possible and generate even more value with your marketing investment.

This pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology and now technology can accelerate the exit from this crisis. While many companies that have yet to adapt to the digital world may be having difficulty achieving this, this is an opportunity to make those much-needed and important changes in the way they operate. You’re still in time to adapt, implement changes, and think big. The time for transformation has come.