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COVID-19 – online shopping the new ‘norm’?

COVID-19 has been a global crisis never seen before in living memory; it has affected nearly every facet of our lives and brought the world into lockdown. For many businesses, the results of COVID-19 have been devasting – changes to business practices, reduction in revenues and furloughing of staff.

One area where change has been seen is in the ecommerce industry. Retailers from all industries have had to adapt to the closure of their physical stores and the move to online buying. Whilst some industries and retailers have seen huge demand, some (here’s looking at you Primark) have been caught out by having a business model that did not factor in some kind of online store.

The question now in the midst of this crisis is whether shopping habits will ever return to ‘normal’ or do businesses need to adapt their models and place more importance on online shopping?

Analysing the data

It’s important firstly, to focus on the data we have regarding the amount of online transactions there have been during this crisis. By analysing this we can understand if shoppers have been deterred from buying during the crisis or have simply shifted their purchasing habits to online stores.

According to data gathered by contentsquare.com, several industries have seen a huge growth in online transactions during the COVID-19 crisis. Some like Supermarkets, seem obvious – they have seen a 135.9% increase in online transactions. However, other industries such as cosmetics or products defined as luxury have also seen increases in online transactions – with cosmetics seeing an 82.9% increase.

Generational shifts in shopping habits?

So, what does this mean? Well in short, two main points can be taken from this data – firstly, customers still want to purchase goods in most of the major industries and secondly, they haven’t been put off by having to shop online. The change can also be measured generationally too, whilst Generation X and the millennials may have been versed in shopping online, the silent generation and baby boomers may have made their first online purchases. It’s possible that these generations could change their shopping habits dependant on these first online shopping experiences they have.

What is available for SMEs?

One thing is clear, with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the likelihood that we will have some form of social distancing for the foreseeable future, it is vital that all businesses evaluate their online stores.  This is especially true for small to medium-size businesses who may not have previously had an online site. There is plenty to consider when building an online site and our blog on top tips for businesses gives a great insight into our top tips for anyone venturing into the online world for the first time. There is also a number of great resources available, including offline2on.com a website created to help get bricks and mortar businesses online. Many eCommerce providers have waived fees or are offering free trials – including shopping platforms such as Shopify.

Other considerations

Other considerations need to be made for businesses affected by COVID-19 – one of these been supply chains and the ability to fulfil orders. Many supply chain experts believe that COVID-19 will force global supply chains to rethink their models, as disruptions to logistics occur around the world. There is plenty of advice available though for businesses who want to ensure minimum disruption to their supply chain – this includes: Educating employees on COVID-19 symptoms and prevention, enforcing COVID-19 screening and promoting flexible working arrangements.

PureClarity have three-month free trials available, with no contract or credit card details required. A no-brainer for businesses looking to increase revenue and convert customers – PureClarity purpose is to personalize your customers’ shopping experience – showing them products and offers that are specific and relevant to them, and change in real-time; reacting to a customer’s behaviour on your site. You can check us out at www.pureclarity.com

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