E-commerce businesses are scrambling to attract festive shoppers, anticipating a rise in traffic driven by demand from customers who have resorted to online shopping due to the novel Coronavirus pandemic. Although it may not be clear at the moment how people will spend, online businesses will be looking to lure customers through targeted discounts, as well as gifts and vouchers. For one thing, people in the e-commerce business say there is always a surge in demand for goods and services during holidays. “We definitely always see a surge in traffic and this has always been the trend from the end of November all through December,” says Clarisse Iribagiza, the chief executive at Shypt, which provides infrastructure for e-commerce businesses. Companies like hers are anticipating a rise in demand, and they are doing all they can, including scaling up their platforms to accommodate the shopper traffic to ensure minimal disruptions. “We have been making upgrades over the last couple of weeks and will continue to do so all through the New Year given the number of vendors we support,” she noted. Traditionally, the holiday season was a period where hundreds of shoppers flock stores but this year may be different as physical distancing and other Covid-19 restrictions may limit movement. Nicole Umuziranenge, a marketing executive at Vuba Vuba Africa, ‘strongly’ believes that e-commerce companies are likely to increase online sales during the festive season. “Reason being that the pandemic has now forced people to easily adapt to online shopping,” she notes, adding that now customers expect more from delivery applications and internet retailers. The new normal Umuziranenge asserts that the pandemic has fundamentally changed consumer purchasing behaviour in 2020, insisting that now consumers are more likely to adapt to a “new normal as we continue to abide by Covid-19 prevention and restriction.” What that means is that businesses are racing to design initiatives aimed at luring people to buy online. One of such initiatives is a campaign, “Foodie Festive”, designed by Vuba Vuba to create awareness to buy online. However, considering what characterized this year, it’s all going to depend on consumer spending, according to Remy Lubega, the owner of Kimironko Market, a grocery delivery platform. “In any way, we anticipate some more traffic because it’s a holiday period,” he says. “We are coming up with some offers, we started “Black Fridays” where people get 10 per cent discounts on whatever they buy.” Online businesses are also racing to give back to their regular shoppers, rewarding them with gifts and discounted vouchers to shop more, as well as partnering with banks to come up with targeted promotions.