2020 was perhaps the toughest year that businesses and business owners have ever, or will ever, experience in their careers. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that at the heart of it, independent retail has been amongst some of the hardest hit industries, with long lockdowns, social distancing measures and the psychological impact of “that person in the queue in front of me might have COVID” resulting in the lowest footfall numbers ever recorded. Another lockdown announcement at the start of the year plunges us back into uncertainty, with no clear idea of when it will end and the rumblings of further restrictions being re-implemented in winter 2021 regardless of current measures ending during the year.
The landscape of retail and the economy hasn’t just shifted for the pandemic – early data and surveys indicate that it has in fact evolved, and the “new normal” may become something that we as a society adapt to long after vaccines and lockdowns are done and dusted. In a recent survey run by the ONS (Office of National Statistics), over a third of all retail spending was done online in May of last year: “While it took 7 years to get from 9% to 19% (2012 to 2019) it took only 4 months to get from 19% to 33% (Jan 2020 to May 2020).”
This isn’t a new trend – e-commerce and online shopping as whole has grown year-on-year, with massive growth even without lockdowns. In November 2019, over £20bn was spent with online retailers rather than physically in-stores. As far back as 2017, 51% of consumers surveyed stated that they prefer to shop online. So how has the pandemic changed this?
It’s less change, and more supercharge. With the removal of the ability to shop in-store, customers switched to online purchasing regardless of age. Historically, online shopping has been more of a “young persons game”, but the pandemic has ensured that consumers in every demographic have had to spend time adapting to the new way of shopping with the use of tablets, computers and mobile devices. Worldwide, e-commerce now accounts for 14.1% of all retail sales, with a predicted rise to 22% by 2023.
So all signs point to online selling – but where to start?! Marketplaces, Social Media, E-Commerce websites… it’s all a bit of a maze! The important thing is ensuring that you take a measured approach to venturing into the world of online sales – what you’re doing is deciding on a digital version of your store. This means instead of facing up, you’re focusing on site design and customer journey. Instead of business rates, you’re looking at ongoing fees and costs or commission. Just because it’s not a physical location, it doesn’t mean it requires any less thought!
Speed-E-Commerce is available to help – whether you’re looking to own your own digital e-commerce website, or require help and assistance with the different marketing options and understanding the pros and cons of each marketplace and online supplier, we’re always available for a chat. No pushy pitch – a clear and concise approach to help you reach the right decision.
And if that happens to be one of our sites, great – but only if it’s right for you!