The world is undergoing a truly life-changing moment in history. Never before has the human race face such a crisis as we are all currently experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last few months, almost every country across the globe has been forced to implement strict social distancing measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Whilst this has undoubtedly worked, and we are now slowly beginning to emerge on the other side, it has also had a devastating effect on the economy. Thousands of businesses are facing closure, whilst in May the UK unemployment rate surged to a three-year record of 1.35 million people.
Yet, against this backdrop of change, there have been glimmers of hope, and certain industries and sectors actually look set to flourish in the post-coronavirus world. Ecommerce has been on the rise for a number of years, but as traditional brick and mortar venues were forced to close in response to the lockdown, it has only accelerated its popularity.
The novel coronavirus has caught everyone unaware. Governments, businesses, and citizens have been forced to adapt to a way of life that no one could have prepared for or even thought possible.
Humans are social beings, which means we thrive on interacting with others, and one of the most significant effects that the pandemic has had is to stop this.. We can no longer see friends or family easily, whilst the idea of visiting a shop and casually browsing for clothes, electronics or any goods that we need already seems like a distant memory.
Of course, it is not just that non-essential shops have been forced to close. With entire supply chains disrupted, it has meant that even those that were able to stay open have faced a lack of stock alongside strict social distancing measures. This has all combined to significantly alter the way the shopping habits of consumers.
Even before the pandemic began, ecommerce was fast becoming the go-to solution for many consumers. In 2019, online shopping in the UK saw shoppers spend an incredible 200 billion euros. This is a considerable amount, but an even more impressive statistic is that 97% of internet users in the United Kingdom made at least one purchase from online retailers in 2019.
There is a clear demand for online business, and despite the challenging economic scenario COVID-19 has created, it has not slowed the demand from consumers. A recent Global Shopping Index report produced by Salesforce has revealed that in Q1, the overall number of unique online shoppers rose by 40% compared to the same period last year. At the same time, revenue was up from 12% last year to an impressive 20% in 2020.
This means that consumers are actively seeking to make purchases from the comfort of their own home. In fact, a study from the Capgemini Research Institute has revealed that consumers’ attitudes have changed significantly over the past three months. Before the lockdown began, 30% of those asked stated that they have a high level of interaction with online shopping retailers, but when followed up recently, that had risen to 37% and is set to only increase further.
Coupled with this increase in demand for ecommerce solutions, is a decreasing demand or willingness to visit physical stores. The coronavirus outbreak has meant that many people are not as keen to spend time in busy public spaces. The Capgemini study also showed that whilst before the COVID-19 pandemic 59% of shoppers had a high level of engagement with a brick and mortar shop, that has dropped by more than half with only 24% of consumers stating that they expect to return to that level. Equally, only 39% of retailers expect to get back to any form of interaction with a physical store.
Coronavirus is not just changing the methods of where we conduct our shopping but also how we do it too. As grocery stocks become more limited, consumers are more willing to accept substitutions within their order. A recent study from a host of ecommerce experts showed that whilst pre-COVID-19 customers would only accept a substitution 7% of the time, that has increased to 34% over the last few months – with 46% of those then going on to continue to re-purchase that substation.
These changing consumer demands have meant that the future of ecommerce has never looked stronger. Although the world appears to be emerging on the other side of the pandemic, we are going to be living in the ‘new normal’ and with social distancing measures for a long time.
Anytime consumers need to purchase something, they will be faced with the option of queueing up outside a shop, facing a large crowd, wearing a mask and then having to sanitise everything when they return home. Or, alternatively, they could simply browse online using their computer and smartphone and purchase everything that they require from the safety and comfort of their own home.
Even when distancing finally disappears, life will be very different from what it was previously as the benefits of these technology-led changes have become clear. This means that the need for retailers to have an online presence has never been more important, and those that want to thrive in the future will need a reliable ecommerce platform in place.
Whilst many of the leading UK retailers already provide online shopping options, for smaller and medium-sized businesses taking advantage of ecommerce opportunities today could transform their business.
There can be no denying that the post-coronavirus world is going to be very different. However, although we are living in a strange period, it is also providing a fantastic opportunity for businesses. For many companies, their focus might be on the short-term survival but taking some crucial decisions now could completely revolutionise their future prospects.
Ecommerce was always going to be the future, but the COVID-19 outbreak has helped to accelerate that. This means that during these challenging times, it will be those bold retailers who invest ambitiously in digital solutions that will be the most likely to emerge as the market leaders. Of course, to do this takes a tremendous amount of courage, but with the retail sector set to experience a permanent change, for many businesses it is now or never when it comes to making the digital transition.
Leading provider of global audit and assurance, consultancy, financial, risk advisory and tax services, Deloitte, has outlined seven steps that any business should adopt when it comes to ecommerce. These methods include focusing on more digital solutions, strengthening technology platforms and customer experiences and upgrading their fulfilment plans. The biggest suggestion of all, however, is to overinvest in digital marketing channels.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, digital marketing was a vital part of any company’s promotional activity. However, with more people spending time at home and online, it has become even more crucial to the success of a business.
For ecommerce retailers, the importance of ecommerce is even greater. Online shopping is one of the most competitive industries available and maximising your digital output is the difference between being successful or being forced to close.
Effective digital marketing can help to boost brand awareness and increase customer engagement, which in turn increases customer acquisition and raises profits. However, digital marketing is not just about targeting new customers; the right campaigns can significantly raise the customer retention levels that an ecommerce site enjoys.
Retaining regular customers is going to become one of the most critical tools in the success of online retailers in the ‘new normal’. Acquiring new customers is five times more expensive than it is to retain an existing customer, whilst increasing retention rates by just 5% can see up to a 95% increase in profits!
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented time in human history. For many retailers, the next few months will be critical and will determine the success of their business in the future.
Here at Kuber Digital, we understand the stress and worry that businesses are currently going through. We also understand the huge opportunity that online shopping and ecommerce offers business, helping them to unlock a stronger and brighter future.
Not only are we the world’s first ecommerce platform with an inbuilt CSR, but our goal is to take your business to new heights, looking after all of your digital marketing requirements. Our platform has been specifically designed to help you to attract, engage and retain customers by acting as your strategic partner, allowing you to focus solely on the success of your business.
Ecommerce is going to become the key ingredient for success not just in the UK but across the globe, so if you want to make that bold step today and secure the future of your business, get in touch today.