How Retail Businesses Moved Digital through COVID-19
For over a year now, the pandemic (aka COVID-19) has been shaping the way we run our day-to-day rituals. From creating at-home workstations to businesses changing how they operate; these routines have almost become second nature. While the situation has been changing with time and different measures, smaller and local businesses have been finding new ways to keep their doors open to customers.
We have seen many smaller establishments come up with creative solutions in order to continue functioning through the pandemic. Restaurants switched from dine in to exclusively take out, delivery, or drive thru where applicable. Boutiques or other stores selling goods have introduced curbside pickups, and class-based services such as yoga services have implemented live streams to continue their teachings.
For many small businesses, this became a time to venture into moving their business from a storefront to online for the first time. Cafes began offering their merchandise and selection of coffee beans through an online shop. Local bookstores started adding their inventory to online shops, and many other small businesses began fulfilling orders either through social media or websites. Online presence, as we continue seeing, is becoming more crucial than ever for businesses to keep running.
What is Ecommerce ?
Ecommerce comes in many transactional forms such as retail, wholesale, subscriptions, digital products, and services through websites. In short, eCommerce is most commonly used to describe online shopping. As the pandemic was early on the rise, and non-essential businesses temporarily closed their doors, people were more inclined to turn to online shopping for their necessities and luxuries. This influx of online traffic gave smaller and local businesses a push to present themselves apart from their brick-and-mortar existence.
The B2B and B2C sectors of eCommerce are growing at high capacities and are projected to outgrow their profits from 2020. Some of the stats found within the last year can further illustrate the impact of eCommerce.
In 2020, eCommerce during the pandemic was 14.1% of all global retail sales. This number is predicted to increase to 22% by 2023.
Other projections say that online sales will reach $3.5 trillion by this year. By 2040, we can expect to see that 95% of all shopping will be done through eCommerce. Jobs within this industry will likely grow to 450,000 in the US by the year 2026. As these numbers continue to grow, it becomes clear that this is a highly competitive market that will continue influencing consumer behavior in regard to their shopping habits.
It is clear that the digital transformation in the retail industry is not going down any time soon. This is because online shopping can be done 24/7 from almost anywhere. People prefer the convenience of this, and shopping online gives access to numerous price comparisons, reviews, and different shipping options.
It is no surprise that online shopping is growing so quickly. The past year has been shaped by contactless experiences, making way for the world of eCommerce to really stress its purpose.
Moving your business online
One thing we have seen being emphasized over the last year is that things really are unpredictable. It is important when transitioning your business online, perhaps for the first time, to be aware of the environment you will be operating in. Be prepared to change your business model in an unlikely event. Plan your responses and measures ahead of time. These days, moving your business online from scratch does not have to be a major tedious task. Many website building platforms these days do not even require coding knowledge and visual layouts for your website. There are also a variety of online tools through these that offer eCommerce, donation platforms, food, and delivery options.
If your physical location is temporarily closed, use it to guide your customers to your online platforms. This can be done through a QR code that visitors can scan to be directed to your desired channel, or through a sign that tells your customer where your services can be found virtually. If you have an email list of your clients—reach out to them to let them know that your business is still in operation. If your business already uses social media, use those channels to promote your website or online shopping options. Similarly, you can create a unique hashtag for your business to encourage your customers to post about you.
Presenting your business online does not have to differ too far from your physical location. A simple approach to this would be to create a website offering the same style business as your physical location. For example, make sure to carry the same type of product catalog for all the items your shop might carry. Then determine which payment methods you will be accepting, who will be fulfilling these orders, and how far deliveries will go out. It should also be considered what kind of delivery options you offer, such as pick-up only or delivering to the desired destination.
It is a significant time for businesses to represent themselves online. Through unpredictable global events and projections pointing at eCommerce favourability, businesses need to be prepared and open to new possibilities. There are many online resources to help guide you through moving your physical business onto digital platforms, but there are also many companies who specialize in this and can create a plan catered exactly for your business. Ecommerce is becoming a rapid future for businesses to continue working and moving forward with their ventures.