8th January 2021 - 5 minutes

How Covid-19 has impacted on SME Businesses throughout 2020

Online: the only place to be in 2021?

2020 – other than the year we would like to forget – will be known as the year that the shops went digital. The impact of Covid-19 on businesses has changed the way we shop forever.

Shortly after entering this 2021 new year, the third national lockdown was announced. ‘Stay home, stay safe, save lives’ are once again the words that are echoing across Britain.

Non-essential businesses have been forced to close their doors. People are now left with filling their time with the weekly food shop, an hour of daily outdoor exercise (if you are daring enough to brave the icy weather) and visiting the online world.

So, it is no surprise that the only way a business can ‘win’ in 2021, is to shift their sales operations online.

“With the high street close to being on its knees, some retailers and industries falling into administration, and the wider impact on the ever-growing ecommerce sector online solutions and methods are, without a doubt, the best hope for survival within the retail sector now. However, depending on the products or service that the business provides online it is not always a guarantee. 

During 2020 we conducted some market research that asked the question: ‘how Covid-19 has impacted on SME businesses in 2020?’

Out of the 150 SMEs that we spoke to we found that the majority had adopted online methods and sped up their aims for digital transformation. Although, not all were finding the transition to online as successful as others. Our research revealed some of real ‘winners and losers’ of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The real winners of ecommerce

The research has shown that some businesses have been much more fortunate than others.

The Office for National Statistics reports that food stores have seen the largest increase in online sales. With people panic and bulk buying from the protection of their own home, August’s 2020 sales nearly doubled in comparison to that of the start of 2020.

Industries that have experienced growth (based on PureClarity’s research):

  • Food and beverages
  • Wine – all providers of alcohol whether direct or gifting
  • DIY
  • Gaming on and offline
  • Hobbies and crafts
  • Electrical wholesalers
  • Skincare, health and wellbeing
  • Home gym equipment and fitness

It is January which means the ‘new year, new you’ resolutions are flying high. People are either joining the health kick, starting a new hobby or trying to feed their lockdown boredom with any safe activity they can find. So, it is no real surprise that the retailers that provide the trending products are experiencing a high increase in sales.

These findings are further supported through Shopify’s recent research into trending products to watch out for in 2021.

“Thanks to a new trend in designer nails among the younger population, the global nail polish market expects to reach $15.6 billion by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5%, according to new information from Grand View Research.” (Shopify, 2020)

Exercise equipment such as resistance bands and yoga mats have seen a huge growth in online purchases. Shopify has reported that the term ‘resistance bands’ receives over 673,000 searches per month.

“Yoga mats have been selling well for a while now. Due to the growing popularity in yoga and rising awareness of its health benefits, the yoga mat industry is estimated to reach $17.3 billion by 2025.” (Shopify, 2020)

Industries that not been as fortunate

On the other side of the digital pandemic, some industries have been much less fortunate in their growth. Now that travel, events and gatherings have been banned (until the foreseeable), businesses that stocked these products and services or those related to are struggling to stay afloat – even after adapting online strategies.

Industries that have experienced decline (based on PureClarity’s research):

  • Travel – fashion / swimwear / luggage
  • Occasion wear
  • High end gifting and retail
  • Indoors sports
  • Luxury goods
  • Wedding and events suppliers

The impact of Covid-19 on businesses such as online clothing stores have been reported to have been among the worst hit within the retail sector.

Although I have seen a few social posts of people getting dressed up for their weekly trip to Tesco’s or to sit in their living rooms with a homemade cocktail – now that the hospitality and travel sectors have closed for the third time, there is little reason for people to feel the urge to buy new clothing.

“Clothing stores in contrast to all other retail sectors saw a fall in online sales during the pandemic with sales falling almost a third in April, compared with February 2020.” (Office for National Statistics, 2020)

Fingers crossed that 2021 will be a better economic year for all industries.

Sometimes all is not fair in love and war – and business

The pandemic has taught us the hard way that in business (and general life) you can either sink or swim at a time of crisis. Some businesses, such as food and fitness industries, have an unfair advantage in terms of stocking in demand products.

However, before these SME businesses start singing the 1977 song ‘We are the champions’, by the British rock band Queen, they will need to consider Queen’s later advice to ‘keep on fighting until the end’.

The competition is only growing – even the businesses that are succeeding currently will need to step up 2021.

In 2020 there were reported to be 6 million SMEs. In comparison to 2019, the private sector business population has increased by nearly 2% – which equates to approximately +113,000 more businesses.

“Lockdown gave people on furlough a unique opportunity to explore business ideas that perhaps only seemed like pipe dreams before.” (BBC, 2020)

So, how do you succeed in this ever-growing online climate?

Get personal with your customers – adopt ecommerce personalisation

The impact of Covid-19 on businesses transitioning to, primarily, digital has not only changed the way we shop, but the level of expectation our customers have when visiting your online store.

Ecommerce personalisation delivers a personalised online customer experience for each of your website visitors every time. This can be achieved through personalised content, advanced AI-driven recommenders, searchandising and much more.

The main purpose of ecommerce personalisation is to ensure that your business is meeting the needs of your customers (and then some), which in turn increases customer spend, amplifies conversions and drives loyalty.

PureClarity makes ecommerce personalisation simple, affordable and flexible to your business needs.

We know that happy customers equate to a prosperous business. That is why our product delivers seamless, unforgettable, and unique personalised online experiences for all your customers every visit, to ensure that we increase the average basket value every time.

Benefits of using PureClarity:

  • Improved customer loyalty and repeat buyers
  • An increase in your average order value
  • An increase in online sales
  • Better customer reviews
  • An increase in engagement with your content
  • Better insight into your customers buying behaviours
  • Full support and advice to optimise your websites performance
  • Allows you more time to focus on other things

Book a demo or try our 30 day free trial today!

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