It’s long been assumed that the ‘e’ in e-commerce stands for “electronic.” But with 2020’s amplification of touchless shopping trends and the new expectations consumers have for the shopping experience, the ‘e’ has taken on a new meaning — “everywhere.”

Consumers see minimal practical distinction between the traditional definitions of e-commerce and in-store shopping. Take, for instance, the rapid adoption of curbside pickup, product delivery, and “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) in the early days of the pandemic. A March 2020 Valassis study found that nearly half of surveyed consumers expected to change their behaviors in light of the pandemic — 20% said they’d do more restaurant delivery, 17% were more open to grocery delivery, and 14% expected to use BOPIS more often — including a good number of people who had never tried these services before 2020.

The full embrace of this mindset — that you should be able to buy what you want, where and how you want it — means that now is the time for brands and advertisers to start making it a reality. Commerce needs a direct line to consumers, and brands need to focus their efforts on building and nurturing that connection with consumers through various means. To strengthen that bond and truly embody the spirit of “everywhere” commerce, brands can’t lose sight of the following:

 Engagement Must Also Happen Everywhere

Everywhere commerce means just that. Before the pandemic, a 2020 consumer report found that 82% of online grocery shoppers, for instance, placed 41% of their orders on a mobile phone or smart device. Amid COVID-19, 87% of online grocery shoppers made an average of 44% of their orders via mobile.

With an ever-increasing number of consumer touchpoints now available, it’s up to brands to use them as advertising avenues to create awareness with their consumers and spark potential conversions. Several 2020 research studies found that consumers have used Connected TV (around 57%) and social media (around 50%) more since the pandemic’s onset, for example. Those trends can be applied to how brands approach display ads, mobile ads, email marketing, and even the in-store experience.

These outlets can highlight the commerce options a brand has, such as “direct to cart” features, health and safety protocols, and other benefits. A McKinsey & Co. study found that more consumers engage with 3-5 media touchpoints before purchase. Being effective in this new economy means embracing any commerce streams your brand has to connect with consumers and guide them through the purchase process.

Just Being Present Isn’t Enough

Yes, it’s essential that brands get a firm grasp on where consumers are coming from. Just as important, though, is taking that information and using it to modify consumer outreach tactics. Messaging and tone that make sense for one stream of media won’t necessarily work for another, so it will be helpful to examine how each is used.

For example, Connected TV (CTV) has gotten a lot of attention lately for a good reason. More consumers are streaming TV shows and movies, but a deeper dive into the makeup of that 57% increase in viewing should inform how to best reach these individuals. Just being in the CTV channel isn’t enough. To meet the demand for everywhere commerce, brands have to streamline the CTV ads to enable shoppers to take the next step toward a purchase seamlessly. And if something isn’t clicking, understanding the audience better — and responding with course corrections — is required.

“Marketing is about art and it’s about science, but today we need to evolve to where the modern consumer is,” Ken Krasnow, VP of omnichannel marketing with Henkel, said during a 2020 P2PX panel. “The art piece, to me, is about inbound marketing and content marketing and marrying that with outbound marketing; the science piece is more about data and technology and developing a much deeper and richer understanding of who our consumers are.”

For certain audiences, traditional outreach methods like direct mail may be exactly the right call. During the pandemic, 30% of consumers said they are spending more time reading marketing or promotions received in their home mailbox. As a result, direct mail is a burgeoning tactic that could build a straight line toward your preferred audience. It’s those sorts of straight lines that enable an “everywhere” approach with maximum effectiveness, delivering messages and experiences that resonate no matter where the consumer is.

The idea of “everywhere” commerce is here, and brands have an exciting opportunity to proactively approach their target audiences where they’re most engaged. Be everywhere to be effective in this new and burgeoning consumer landscape.