20/20 does not refer to the calendar year, although I think we are all ready to put 2020 (the calendar year) in our hindsight.

20/20 refers to a measure of normal visual acuity, as measured by the Snellen fraction chart developed by ophthalmologist Herman Snellen in 1862. It’s a measure of the sharpness and clarity of one’s sight. I’m sure we’re all familiar with a typical Snellen chart. It consists of 11 rows of letters, with the largest letter at the top, with each row’s letters decreasing in size.

In the Snellen chart, the smallest row that can be read accurately at a distance of 20 feet indicates the visual acuity in a specific eye. The row com­prising the large letter E, at the top of the chart, is labeled 20/200, meaning that an average person would be able to see it clearly at a distance of 200 feet The 8th row is the 20/20 – the row whose letters a person with normal acuity can read at a distance of 20 feet. Although 20/20 indicates normal visual acuity, it is often used to refer to good, sometimes perfect, eyesight.

Now that 2020 is coming to an end, we can look back at the year with “good, sometimes perfect” visual acuity.

What are some of the things we’ve learned from 2020?

  • Uncertainty – uncertainty can come in all different forms. 2020 included some of the most daunting uncertainties seen in recent years. Uncertainty in health, safety, business, family, finances, employment, government, news outlets, you name it. There was some form of uncertainty around it.
  • Adaptability – with uncertainty comes adaptability. 2020 showed all of us that we could, and did, adapt to the uncertainties thrown our way. The way restaurants adapted to being unable to host indoor diners, how churches adapted to virtual services, and how our school-aged children adapted to e-learning instead of going to school, to name a few examples.
  • Variability – with adaptability comes variability. 2020 was anything but consistent with previous years.
    • Most employees didn’t work in the same location as they had in previous years.
    • We couldn’t celebrate holidays as we had in previous years.
    • Customers didn’t shop in 2020 in the same way they shopped in previous years.

From an eCommerce perspective, let’s take the visual acuity gained from 2020 and learn how to improve 2021 and beyond.

How can this be accomplished?

  1. Make certain that your website can handle the ebbs and flows in traffic. Many stores were either closed or allowed limited shoppers inside. Many customers were choosing to make their purchases online.
  2. Have omnichannel systems in place to allow for multiple methods of delivery. While we anticipate things opening up soon, some shoppers have found a new way to shop. Be prepared for omnichannel strategies such as BOPIS, ROPIS, and delivery.
  3. Try new ways to reach your customers that persuade them to purchase from you. New ecommerce tools that offer social proof, visual user-generated content (UGC), and nudges can simulate the in-store shopping experience.

In Conclusion

Let’s use what we’ve learned in 2020 to improve how we do things in 2021 and beyond. We can’t always anticipate what will happen in the future. However, because hindsight is 20/20, we can be prepared to adapt to the uncertainty and variables thrown our way.