The global commerce landscape was on the verge of transformation and the outbreak of COVID-19 accelerated the entire process. It proved all assumptions wrong and brought about a 360-degree change to global commerce. Digital transitions became indispensable as the world moved towards the new normal.


66% of high-performing companies across the globe replaced their in-store experiences with digital ones.

Taking a cue from such exponential figures (66%), in this blog, we shall look at the paradigm shift that B2C commerce has undergone in terms of consumer behavior, the latest evolutions, customer engagement. Primarily, we shall explore the three most prominent trends that have come upon B2C businesses over the last two years.

Blurring Boundaries between Physical & Digital Commerce

Compartmentalizing physical and digital commerce is now a thing of the past. With the lethal attack of the pandemic, when in-store shopping and foot traffic for non-essential goods came almost to a halt, eCommerce was quick to steal the spotlight. Consumers weren’t just browsing, but they were driving historic levels of conversions.

Blurring Boundaries between Physical & Digital Commerce

Consumers used their phones for payments

Mobile wallets are no more limited to online ordering; it’s being used for contactless payments. Throughout the summer of 2020, 38% of consumers used contactless payments more than they did before the pandemic.

Stores fulfilled online discoveries

When non-essential brick-and-mortar stores closed down due to the pandemic, consumers failed to find new products in the stores. Hence, they flocked to digital media such as websites or social media. The physical stores soon became order fulfillment centers. In the US alone, retailers who had the BOPIS option experienced a 76% growth in the Q3 of 2020 compared to the previous year.

To Ponder: Retailers that did not have a BOPIS option experienced only 47% growth (a figure far lower than the ones with BOPIS capabilities)

Source: First Edition of State of Commerce by Salesforce

Does B2C businesses still need physical stores? Yes, they do, but with a twist. Low-contact options like buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS), curbside pickup is now more important to a majority of consumers (especially the ones concerned with safety and convenience).

Besides, self-service options of consumers will successfully reduce the reliance of B2C businesses on the last mile delivery network. Hence, physical stores will now remain order fulfillment points for online orders.

Direct to Consumers Initiatives Take Off

There has been a 200% increase in digital purchases of essential goods between March 2019 and March 2020 because of the sudden outbreak of COVID-19.

The most interesting insight is around 68% consumers plan to buy their essential goods online even after the pandemic.

The drastic change in the retail landscape changed the relationship of consumers with brands. Brands got a better opportunity to sell their products directly to their consumers and rethink their online stores using platforms like Salesforce commerce cloud.

B2C market leaders quickly noticed the change, and increased their investments in digital commerce since 2019, which is likely to grow even further.

Incremental revenue is one of the many benefits that businesses got from D2C transactions. For consumer goods, the direct sales contributed to 5% of the total revenue but after the pandemic, it shot up to 40%. Pandemic was an opportunity to supercharge their direct sales growth. There was a triple digit increase in the amount that shoppers had spent on food and drink, directly from manufacturers’ websites.

Shopping at the Edge Accelerators

Consumers’ digital spending grew 55% from Q3 2019 to Q3 2020.

The high growth magnitude is due to the waning physical interactions. It drastically changed the way people communicated with each other, worked, found entertainment, and shopped. Many shoppers migrated from physical stores to apps, websites, and other digital spaces. It came to be known as “shopping at the edge,” a term coined by Salesforce.

Customer demands grew more than ever and brands were under the pressure to meet such demands. 56% of consumers reported having spent less time than usual in-store shopping. 

New Engagement Destination??

Social media, internet browsing, and video streaming became the new engagement channels. Hence, brands were quick to invest in contextual commerce or embedded contextual experiences. Some such initiatives included social media, virtual reality, voice, or gamification.

Source: First Edition of State of Commerce by Salesforce

Where is the Evolution of Commerce Headed to?

Post pandemic the overwhelming change that has embraced the global retail ecosystem, brings forth a pertinent question.

Will the brick-and-mortar stores soon become oblivious?

The answer is a NO.

They are to remain but in a changed avatar. B2C leaders say that physical stores are still essential for their businesses and it takes a major share of their investment, but alongside the importance of social media and websites, has also seen unprecedented growth. Hence, the stores, which were once the main point of product discovery, has transitioned into fulfillment centers.

However, the challenge for merchants is to offer customers a unified experience. Often store associates cannot connect the customer data points, causing a disjointed shopping journey. The key, therefore, is to offer unified commerce experiences both online and in stores to customers with robust eCommerce platforms like SFCC without letting the revenue graph go down. Scalability, agility, and flexibility are the three pillars of success in a fiercely competitive retail market.