COVID-19: An Inflection Point For E-commerce
COVID-19 and Its Impact on E-commerce Landscape
With the COVID-19 pandemic striking fear of spread even through accepting delivery parcels, the e-commerce sector took a massive hit along with facing problems with delivery due to the prevailing restriction of movement.
But e-commerce companies have managed to adopt a flexible approach and have successfully transformed their business models to suit the current situation. In fact, the online sales grew up to 76% in June as compared with the year earlier. The growth seen in online sales was 68% in April as compared to 49% in early January.
As more people are now working from home, e-commerce stores are aligning their objectives with customers’ changing needs.
Let’s take a look at how e-commerce is shifting the paradigm.
How To Maintain an E-commerce Business Amid COVID-19?
Despite a constant shift towards e-commerce platforms, the industry faces many hurdles due to various international business changes and a change in consumer buying behavior.
Companies need to plan ahead of time to overcome this shift. Various themes are getting implemented across diverse e-commerce markets globally in response to the pandemic not to let people halt their buying behavior.
On the other hand, social distancing rules have favored the e-commerce industry, increasing online orders. In the US and Canadian e-commerce sectors alone, there has been an impressive 146% growth in online orders. Finding the best Ecommerce Platform Software for your business is now faster and easier!
Various e-commerce portals have already tweaked their existing strategies to fulfill growing orders and help them with their further expansion.
Here are a few examples –
- Amazon brought changes in its buying box algorithm to give priority to delivery speed instead of fulfillment preferences. The algorithm earlier favored ‘Fulfilled by Amazon,’ but now to increase delivery speed, priority is given to ‘Fulfilled by Merchant.’ Also, merchants with fast delivery are prioritized.
- Some leading e-commerce portals like Myntra, Flipkart, Alibaba, etc., in Asian countries, are bringing online shopping bonanza. They design their sale campaigns that cut across various categories like mobile phones, grocery, furniture, makeup, self-care, etc. based on the essential shopping that consumers do.
- UK’s largest online grocery store Ocado designed a plan to automate its warehouses. Robots can pick and pack consumer orders. They implemented it on an experimental basis, but now, it is fully functional.
- Target uses Tally, an ERP software, to monitor inventory levels for its stores in San Francisco.
There has also been a shift in delivery challenges that are faced by online stores due to a shortage of human resources and a surge in demand at the same time. To combat these problems, companies are partnering with ride-sharing companies, for instance –
- Grocery stores like Instacart and C&S Wholesale Grocers have partnered to manage delivery and provide consumers with fast delivery options.
- Amazon has also joined hands with Lyft for a mutually beneficial relationship that will solve workforce shortages and give drivers employment.
Such adaptations give a glimpse of the immense potential of the e-commerce industry. It has also changed the business models of various e-commerce organizations. Food delivery platforms like Deliveroo, Uber Eats, and Grubhub have started delivering groceries to consumers.
E-commerce companies are also utilizing social media platforms to promote sales. As people are spending more time on such social networking platforms, the conversion rates have increased to 8.8%, according to QuantumMetric.
The primary reason these adaptations and the unification of so many diverse sectors happened was the change in consumer buying behavior. As per a study by NRF, more than 50 percent of the consumers have ordered products online that they would typically purchase from the store.
All these examples prove that there has been a positive inflection for e-commerce. But how will they manage business and operations post-COVID-19 era? E-commerce stores will have to address the following essential issues after the pandemic gets over for a smooth business-
- How consumer needs and preferences are going to evolve in the long run?
- What are the product categories that will have constant demand even after COVID era?
- How can a business model be tweaked to meet the changing needs?
- What are the digital capabilities that need development?
- What can be potential future partnerships in the digital transformation journey?
- What are the plans and strategies to attain a competitive edge in the market?
How Can E-commerce and Digital Technology Vendors Bring up Offline Stores?
The only way in which traditional store owners can survive the pandemic situation is by going online. Although an online presence is not the only factor that will drive sales, customization of the consumer experience is equally important. It is also necessary to drive engagement by bringing good marketing campaigns.
Various technology vendors such as Shopify can help in this. Already established digital vendors can help traditional shop owners with necessary digitization initiatives like advertisements, payment processing, shipping, logistics, etc. Such actions will help small and medium businesses to gain expertise in areas where they lack.
There are also other ways in which traditional merchants can use E-commerce to survive this pandemic and create a useful roadmap for their business in the future – Top 10 SAAS eCommerce Platform Software for Your Online Business
#1. Buy Online and Pick-up in Stores
Stores are a place where usually there is a gathering of more than ten people, which raises the risk of getting infected. Although people try to avoid taking risks, there has been an increasing pressure of orders on all essential service stores like grocery and pharmacy stores. Leveraging mobile devices to scale ‘Buy Online and Pick-Up in Stores’ will help merchants handle the higher volume of orders.
#2. Mobile Point of Sales
Many businesses are losing their revenue and cash flow due to government guidelines. In this, drive-up or drive-thru becomes the only option. Having a device that can take up the orders and collect payment will offer the capability to continue the business without violating the guidelines.
#3. Digital Marketing
Optimizing digital marketing strategies during this pandemic will help e-commerce stores refocus their approach through a partnership with digital marketing agencies. Businesses can rethink their marketing strategies by adapting proper keyword strategies, understanding traffic trends, influencer marketing, etc.
All these measures will increase opportunities for online marketing vendors, and they will need to answer the following questions –
- Has their client’s segment been most affected?
- What has been the attitude of shop owners towards online commerce?
- What are the concerns faced by merchants to establish online channels?
- What is the value-added service that is preferred by most store owners?
As this pandemic will come to an end sooner or later, digitalization and retail vendors will be expected to merge and provide optimal services. This will help them succeed in the new era of unexpected changes with a new level of zeal.
Thus, all e-commerce companies need to plan their strategies and future roadmap to offer maximum personalization and customer satisfaction. In the long run, we can say that this pandemic is an inflection point for e-commerce business and digital transformations.