6th November 2020 - 2 Min Read Time

The Rise of SMEs Throughout Lockdown

Signs that SME retailers are better equipped to survive the second lockdown

As we enter lockdown 2.0 there are still so many unanswered questions and uncertainties. However, one thing is for sure, 2020 will go down as the year of; baking, webcamming, online entrepreneurs, Netflix bingeing, social distancing – and let’s not forget online shopping!

According to research the first lockdown brought a huge surge in new online businesses, with over 16,000 SMEs growing through the eCommerce market.

“The highest rate of new business creation was found to be within eCommerce, reflecting the fast-changing pace of consumer behaviour in the UK during 2020” (Charged retail, 2020)

Susan Meyer’s (2020) from BigCommerce suggests; “One of the responses we’ve seen to how people are approaching this period of isolation and uncertainty is in huge overnight changes to their shopping behaviours. From bulk-buying to online shopping, people are changing what they are buying, when, and how.”

Are independent stores more bullet-proof than chain stores?

The BBC recently reported that independent shops have been “more agile” in surviving the first phase of coronavirus, suggesting that small businesses that have taken to online stand less of a chance of closure.

“Small independent firms on the High Street suffered a net decline of 1,833 stores in the first half of 2020, according to research by the Local Data Company (LDC) and accountancy firm PwC.” (See BBC, 2020)

Head of retail and strategic partnerships at the Local Data Company, Lucy Stainton, declares: “The latest figures on the GB retail and leisure market tell the story of an immensely challenging few months for the retail and hospitality sector.”

During this period, the research conducted revealed that there were over 20,000 closures of independent stores and over 18,000 re-openings. In contrast, there were over 11,000 chain-stores closures and only around 5,000 re-openings. Meaning that SMEs declined by 0.54%, compared with 2.77% for the chain units.

Stainton continues to say, “The independent market has fared better as these businesses have been able to be more agile, bringing in new product lines and offering food deliveries; have a smaller cost base to cover during periods of little or no trade and have been able to take advantage of government support schemes.”

“As we continue through the year with various local lockdowns and restrictions, life will not get any easier for operators. These figures mark only the first phase in the impact of the pandemic on the retail economy this year with 20% of the market still temporarily shut and with more months of difficult trading conditions ahead.

“This being said, we still absolutely believe in the validity and relevance of physical retailing. Whilst there is no denying the impact of the pandemic on these sectors, this likely represents the inevitable structural change required albeit more painful as a result of the velocity and abruptness.

“With independents adapting well, new entrants still acquiring stores and sectors such as personal grooming continuing to thrive, there is no doubt we will eventually get to a more condensed though diverse and exciting retail and hospitality landscape as businesses and places acclimatise.” (See Local Data Company, 2020)

Is ecommerce the way to go for the SME market?

There are countless benefits for small and medium enterprises to join eCommerce, such as, expanding market reach nationally and globally, reducing operational costs, boosting brand awareness and increasing accessibility.

“With rapid progress of the economy and of science technology, the competition between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large enterprises is inevitable, so it is very significant for small and medium-sized enterprises to discover enhanced ways to advance their capability to compete” (Visible One, 2016). 

As shops and businesses that are deemed ‘non-essential’ are forced to close, the demand for products purchased online will once again skyrocket.

Therefore, lockdown seems to be the perfect time for the SME market to take their brick-and-mortar to the eCommerce world. Arguably, digitising the retail market is the key to businesses and the nation’s economic survival.

Seize the moment! Get ahead of your competition

Waste no time.With the online market growing rapidly and Christmas, Cyber Monday and Black Friday fast approaching, it is essential (more than ever) to ensure that your ecommerce site out-shines that of your competitors.

Staying ahead of the ever-growing competition can seem overwhelming, costly and time-consuming.

But how can I do this?’, I hear you ask.

The answer is simple – Intelligent ecommerce personalisation.

How can PureClarity help?

PureClarity are specialists in intelligent eCommerce personalisation. Our plugin software offers a wide range of features that helps you increase revenue and average order value, converting your online visitors into loyal customers.

Engaging with your customer at a personal level is the key to success. With technology constantly evolving the ‘today’s customer expectation’ is higher than ever – people expect a flawless customer experience.

PureClarity’s advanced AI-driven ecommerce technology and abundant personalisation features makes staying ahead of the competition easier than ever.

Book a free demo or download our 30 day free trial.

Additional Reading

Why Providing An Engaging Online Shopping Experience Will Be Your 2020 Online Game Changer

SMEs: Create Engaging Online Experiences, Create Online Growth

PureClarity – The Perfect Ecommerce Personalisation Solution for SMEs in 2020

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