• Demelza @ DL Social

After Covid-19, is now the time businesses should take E-Commerce seriously?

For the past decade online business and shopping has slowly been on the incline.

The industry pre-Covid 19 was predicted to see $ 35.2 billion in revenue this year. Australia is also positioned as the 10th largest e-commerce market in the world by revenue.

Despite this, in 2019 over 59% of businesses did not have a website ( YouGalaxy/ GoDaddy 2019) with many feeling that a presence online was not necessary. Along with this, only 47% of SMBs used Social Media. (2019 Sensis Social Media Report).

This highlighted that a majority of Australian small businesses were not present online.

The reasons varied. Some felt their businesses were not big enough to call for a website, others felt there was no need for a social media presence and other’s didn’t have the time to manage or build it.

But then came Covid-19.

As more and more regulations and restrictions were made, more industries were forced to shut their physical doors for an unknown period of time.

And whilst many bricks & mortar locations weren’t able to open, digital platforms thrived.

More businesses began to adapt online - setting up websites, turning to online delivery platforms like Uber Eats & Menulog, using marketplaces like Etsy and Ebay to sell goods or setting up stores on Shopify.

Shopify reported businesses moved swiftly online during the Coronavirus pandemic with sales up 47% on the platform.

When the world was forced indoors, it turned online to shop, safely whilst social distancing.

Australia Post reported that in April 2020 5.2 million households shopped online with over 200,000 new households evolving their buyer behaviour to digital shopping.

It also reported that Easter 2020 was the busiest online shopping period in history. With online shopping up 6.8% on 2019’s busiest online period, Black Friday/ Cyber Monday.

It was predicted that by the year 2025 online shopping would have a 16%- 18% share of the total retail market, however thanks to Covid-19 this growth has skyrocketed forward with Australia Post predicting that this year will now see a 15% share instead.

Covid-19, forced consumers to evolve their buying behaviours. Not just for necessity but also when they were forced to work from home and needed goods, services and attire to do so.

And as consumer behaviour was forced to evolve, the thought processes of businesses were forced to adapt to the world of e-commerce, whether they were comfortable in doing so or not.

For those who already had set up some sort of digital infrastructure to compliment their bricks and mortar offering, they were already able to use their websites and social media to their advantage.

Those businesses were able to offer incentives such as free delivery, discounted stock as soon as restrictions were in place, identifying that as workers were forced home that disposable income would decline drastically.

For those SMBs who were forced online, they were left on the back foot. Not only did they have to set up and mould their business model into the fast changing self-isolating climate but also dish out money at a time when sales were in rapid decline – not the best time for increasing your capital costs.

And yes, when things return to some sort of normal, online shopping might not play as vital role in the household shop or will it?

Online shopping to a consumer is becoming more and more beneficial to the busy daily lives so many Australians lead and this is only improving as more platforms offer easier "path to purchase" journeys for consumers.

Click and collect models, the rise of online Marketplaces such as Ebay.com and Etsy, Buy now pay later, faster payments and even multiple delivery options are all adding easier shopping and payment options from the comfort of consumer’s homes.

Then, it’s important to take into account Social Media and the role it plays as well. It’s safe to say that Social Media isn’t a fad and isn’t going to go away anytime soon. It continues to evolve with the publics’ needs and for businesses this continues to make things easier when selling and promoting products and services.

Social commerce was a growing trend in 2020 with the announcement from Facebook that Instagram Shops would be launched sometime this year. The feature will allow for even easier shopping directing followers to store checkouts to make purchases straight from the Instagram platform.

Not to mention platforms that aid e-commerce such as Shopify, Wix.com, Squarespace, Wordpress, Go Daddy, Siteground, Etsy , Amazon, Ebay.com and dozens more continue to make setting up shops online more user-friendly and cost-effective than ever before.

So yes, whilst pre-Covid 19 it was suitable to consider that a business wasn’t big enough to have a website, post-Covid 19 shows that when the world needed to continue to shop it was websites and marketplaces they were looking for 24/7.

Social Media allowed businesses to stay connected to their followers ensuring that they kept them aware and informed regardless of closures or online services.

And in terms of time, Covid-19 forced many to find that time to go online.

We don’t know what is in store for the world post-Covid 19.

But what we do know is that as e-commerce and online shopping continues to evolve, consumers are going to look towards it more and more as it caters to their ever-increasing busy lifestyles. Online shopping during this crisis has forced them to sample what they might have feared (online safety, product quality, refund issues) before, showing that purchases can be made quickly, efficiently and cashless.

It is safe to say that we will see a slight decline in the figures that we have seen during the past few months however it’s a strong case to say that the increase in online shopping is here to stay and only going to get stronger.

However, for businesses Covid-19 has provided us with the evidence needed to start taking e-commerce far more seriously than they have been – particularly if they want to survive in the retail and/or service space for many years and decades to come.

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