Invoca Study Finds Increased Role of Website Experience and Customer Service in Big-Ticket Purchases During COVID-19

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Oct. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives: it is changing the way we work, how we interact with family and friends, and the way we shop. A new report from Invoca, “High-Stakes Purchases and Consumer Confidence in the COVID Era,” highlights data from a survey of 500 U.S. adults to understand specifically how consumers are approaching expensive and complex purchases in this new environment. The data uncovers important findings for businesses aiming to give consumers confidence in making these complicated purchases online. 

Despite the economic downturn brought on by COVID, Invoca’s report finds people are still making high-stakes purchases, such as cars, insurance policies, wireless plans, and big-ticket home improvement items. However, they’re changing the way they research and buy these items, in many cases moving entirely online. For example, the survey found online purchases in automotive grew 115% since March and increased 85% in home services. That said, consumers have important concerns when shopping online: People are most concerned that they won’t be able to verify the product or service quality before purchasing (36%), that they’ll choose the wrong product or service (22%), that refunds will be complicated (21%) and that they won’t get the best deal (19%).

Given the level of cost and complexity these types of purchases require, the report uncovered how brands can help consumers feel more confident when it comes to making these purchases online.

  • Brands must create a smooth online experience with options to get live help: For consumers making complex purchases online, it’s just as important to provide them with an option to get live, expert sales assistance as it is to have a fully functional website across devices. 81% of consumers said that just having a

In long-awaited update, CDC says airborne transmission plays a role in coronavirus spread

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged Monday that people can sometimes be infected with the coronavirus through airborne transmission, especially in enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation.

The long-awaited update to the agency web page explaining how the virus spreads represents an official acknowledgment of growing evidence that under certain conditions, people farther than six feet apart can become infected by tiny droplets and particles that float in the air for minutes and hours, and that they play a role in the pandemic.

The update follows an embarrassing incident last month when the agency removed a draft that had not gone through proper review and was posted in error. The draft’s wording included a reference to aerosols – tiny droplets that can stay in the air, potentially traveling a significant distance. Officials said the draft was removed because they feared the language could be misinterpreted as suggesting that airborne transmission is the main way the virus spreads.

That is not the case. The main drivers of viral spread are larger respiratory droplets that are emitted when someone coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes, the CDC said.

“There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than six feet away,” the updated web page states. “These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example while singing or exercising. the updated web page states.”

“Under these circumstances,” the web page says, “scientists believe that the amount of infectious smaller droplet and particles produced by the people with COVID-19 became concentrated enough to spread the virus to other people. The people who were infected were in the same space during the same time or shortly after the person with COVID-19 had left.”


In virtual admissions programming, Yale students play starring role

Even as campus remains closed to visitors amid the pandemic, tens of thousands of high school students around the world are getting an inside view of the student experience directly from Yale undergraduates.

Since April, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has been offering daily hour-long virtual information sessions with admissions officers and current students, as well as informal virtual student forums that give participants direct, real-time access to Yale students. 

Given the turmoil of the pandemic, the admissions office initially expected summer registrations for the new virtual events to fall short of the more than 20,000 visitors who attended on-campus events in summer 2019. But the opposite has been true: total registrations were up nearly 40%. 

Virtual events really make our reach global,” said Debra Johns, associate director of admissions, who coordinates the office’s visitor programming. “In a single virtual session in June, we had prospective students participating from 23 different countries.”

The new sessions are offered at various times throughout the week to make attendance convenient irrespective of time zones.

Yale’s undergraduate admissions office has hosted nearly 100 virtual information sessions since April, plus 50 virtual student forums and 50 virtual events with other colleges and universities. The number of people exploring Yale’s popular virtual tour also has increased significantly between April and August — by nearly 300%­.

Before public health considerations ruled out in-person admissions events, the admissions office had never offered virtual events to the public. 

We’ve learned a lot in a very short amount of time,” said Mark Dunn, the office’s director of outreach and communications. “One of the most obvious lessons is that there’s no going back. I expect we will continue to offer virtual events even after campus opens to visitors again.”

The pandemic has also led Yale’s corps of admissions officers

Sheryl Sandberg On Facebook’s Role In Small Business Support And Voter Registration During The Pandemic

With more than 180 million businesses relying on its social media platforms every month, Facebook
has a crucial role in helping small businesses change course and stay connected with customers during the pandemic. 

At Forbes’ first-ever Small Business Summit held virtually on Friday, COO Sheryl Sandberg discussed how Facebook has “doubled down” on product launches for small businesses and how Congress can do more to help them survive coronavirus. 

Digital migration is “definitely an accelerating trend and it’s here to stay,” Sandberg said. “Businesses were already moving online, but what we found during this period is businesses are migrating much more quickly.”

To bolster that shift over the last few months, Facebook has launched Facebook Shops, an app where businesses can create online stores to sell directly to the consumer, and Facebook Business Suite, a “one-stop shop where you can manage all your pages, your profiles and your messages across Facebook and Instagram and messenger.” 

Sandberg also said fundraisers — typically used on the social media app for nonprofits in honor of users’ birthdays — are available for small businesses now. 

“I never thought we would do fundraisers for small businesses,” she said. “But people said to us they know small businesses are so important to their community, and they want to fundraise.”

The social media giant committed $200 million of its own cash for two grant programs dedicated to small and Black-owned businesses. 

“We’re working on getting the money out the door as soon as we can, because there is no time to waste in a crisis like this,” Sandberg said. 

Aside from determining what Facebook can do to