How Has COVID-19 Reshaped The E-Commerce Industry?
How Has COVID-19 Reshaped The E-Commerce Industry?
COVID-19 has impacted and changed the world around us. From not being able to do the normal things to defining a new normal, the world has changed really fast over the last 1.5 years. People had to adapt to newer things and habits. Suddenly, everyone was confined to their houses, there were lockdowns and movement restrictions & most activities shifted online.
Ecommerce saw a huge boost too because people had no other choice but to order everything online. From daily needs to groceries to pretty much anything, everything had to be shopped online. Worldwide, every country and every category saw a huge increase in sales activity as the pandemic-struck people took to online shopping for masks and sanitizers to skincare and cleaning supplies. A recent article from the UN says “Global e-commerce jumps to $26.7 trillion, fueled by COVID-19” which is a rise in the share of retail sales to 19% from 16% in 2020. There is an informative table in the article which shows the online retail sales in billions of $ in the last 3 years (2018-2020) which shows this E-commerce trend is a worldwide phenomenon. Also it’s not just consumer purchases, but even B2B sales which have gained a spurt.
Another report from the World Bank published late last year summarizes the fact that E-Commerce is no longer an option, but a necessity. So let’s look at how the pandemic has reshaped the E-Commerce industry and what we can expect in the future, based on the current trends.
A Shift Towards Online Purchase
People are now used to E-commerce and these habits will mean more online shopping to continue. Worldwide surveys of shoppers have revealed that buyers prefer online shopping and will continue to do so even after the pandemic ends. It is convenient, saves time and saves the hassle of parking and driving to a store. Consumers are seeing more benefits of online shopping since the pandemic left them with no other option and are very comfortable with this model at the present and going forward. This shift should be a great motivator for existing E-commerce sellers and would attract more new sellers to start selling online which brings us to our next point.
More Online Sellers
With a huge upswing in buyers and buying activity online, more sellers are also tempted to offer their goods and services online. With the lockdowns forcing the sellers to shut down their shops and places of business, they also had E-commerce as the only option to survive. For some sellers, it’s no longer an option but a necessity while others will be lured by the booming industry and earning opportunities. While there is no dearth of platforms you can sell on right from Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, to having your own website with ecommerce option set up by Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommertce to many other players, if you are starting out and want a great tool to make online selling easier, you should definitely consider a power tool to automate and grow your business.
The E-commerce industry has also let to a booming financial market which is mostly digital. From BNPL (Buy Now, Pay Later) platforms to digital wallets and other financing schemes like easy monthly instalments, it has gone all digital with minimal or almost no paperwork involved. Payments & credit facility infrastructure, fulfillment players, mobile network upgrades to enable people in remote places to get online and make digital purchases from their mobile phones and a whole lot of ancillary industries involved in the online buying process has seen massive activity too. The online ecosystem development has happened with online sales surge and every piece of the puzzle is getting updated to handle the massive influx of users.
Unique Personalized Shopping Services
With online marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart seeing a huge transaction volume from existing customers and even from newer customers, they are at an unique advantage of knowing a customer inside out. They know the buying patterns, date, time, items & quantities bought, the frequency and the nature of orders, the order volume and value, the payment methods used and many more details which all lead to a powerful set of data which can be used to offer personalized services to each set of customers. This information can be analyzed by AI algorithms to offer the customers items that they are genuinely interested in and can really work great for the sellers. The buyers see more of the related items they want to purchase and the sellers see an increased sale volume because buyers are more likely to click buy on an item which is surfaced based on the personalization from their buying patterns. The ecommerce platforms do the heavy lifting and the sellers and the buyers benefit. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Higher Budget Allocation for Essentials
Another buying pattern that we have seen emerge in the COVID-19 pandemic is that more buyers are preferring to spend their monthly budget towards the essentials and are not splurging on luxury goods as much. This is a very logical outcome of the job losses we have seen around the world due to the impact on the worldwide economy. Plus, the fact that budget purchases could have been made from a nearby store by just walking in there before the pandemic but was not possible post it also led to the overall online purchases in the category.
Multichannel Selling Has Become a Norm
The biggest advantage of E-commerce is the reach. Sellers get to sell their items to a wider audience and buyers get more choice of sellers selling the same things, at more marketplaces. As sellers were forced to sell online with the closure of brick and mortar stores, they were desperate to sell their inventory, especially if they were of perishable nature or lost value over time. The easiest way for making sure you could sell your inventory was to list it on multiple channels. As a seller, you have the option of some of the biggest third party marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Etsy, besides having your online ecommerce website and also storefronts like Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce. It might sound time consuming and confusing to achieve this but again there are tools like SellerChamp™ which can offer you amazing features like multi channel listing, inventory sync, repricing and many more. As a seller wanting to take advantage of multi-channel selling, you can be assured that you will reach out to more customers, with ease, and spend the least possible time with powerful tools like SellerChamp™.
Newer Marketplaces Have Emerged
Besides the traditional and well established Ecommerce players, there are newer avenues which have emerged as successful competitors to marketplaces. These are social websites and apps like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Google adding shopping across search and more products. So essentially it does give sellers more options to reach out to prospective customers while every bigger company tries its luck into the ecommerce industry. It’s a booming market and everyone wants to have a piece of the pie. As a seller, if you want to maximize your reach and be seen everywhere, you can use powerful tools which help you get maximum exposure.
These are just a few of the developments which have occurred rapidly over the last 1.5 years and the ecommerce market continues to grow and evolve at a breathtaking pace as the world is still recovering from the 2nd and 3rd waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. The key takeaways here are that most of these will remain and will be seen as the starting point of the e-commerce revolution in 2020 and beyond. COVID-19 has pushed the industry forward massively and has been single handedly responsible for the developments which would have otherwise taken 4-5 years. The E-Commerce industry, as a whole is at a very important juncture and the road ahead is full of challenges, exciting innovations and more opportunities for everyone.
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