E-COMMERCE – THE DIGITAL HIGH STREET SAVIOUR OF 2020

Shopping during 2020 Coronavirus pandemic

Covid-19 has taken a devastating toll on both peoples personal and professional lives. The effect so overwhelming, that retailers have shut doors to the public, some permanently. Therefore, an increasing number of businesses prioritised their strategies to focus on virtual/online sales. E-commerce truly proved to be the saviour of 2020, for both consumers and business owners of all sizes. It showed small to medium businesses can take on larger competitors, and win.

If e-commerce websites are the shops, then Page 1 of Google is the High street, more so than ever through 2020, and it has retained that footfall in 2021 with persistent reactions. Throughout lockdowns there had never been a bigger opportunity to invest in a unique website with a focused digital strategy that assures an increase in online presence. An article from Statista stated that in 2020, as high as 87% of UK households made online purchases within the preceding 12 months, therefore E-commerce’s importance cannot be understated.

Online retailers such as Boohoo and ASOS have proved that physical stores aren’t needed to amass large market share. And as more industries adapted to the use of technology during the pandemic, they too have seen major benefits to selling online. Those businesses who were late to the digital party, truly suffered during lockdowns and some may never be the same.

Selling is only one element however, in order to not only survive but thrive in this current online climate, you need an arsenal of digital marketing methods in order to compete in area & industry. E-marketer estimated that online shopping would be a significant trend for 2020, and they proved to be right with 45.4 million digital buyers in the UK for 2020, accounting for 81.1% of the population.

So ask yourself, could you have survived without E-commerce in 2020?

Online shopping during the pandemic in 2020

E-COMMERCE – WHAT IS IT?, IT’S ORIGINS & IT’S EVOLUTION

E-commerce is defined as, the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions. E-Commerce has evolved rapidly since that initial statement with Send cloud stating that the UK is becoming the third-largest online market, with nearly 200 billion in sales in 2019. Websites such as these have existed for some time, gaining major popularity once powerhouses such as Amazon and eBay showed the full extent of E-commerce. 

Since then, the technology has been adapted to fit a variety of industries and has evolved over the years, both from a consumer and a business owners’ point of view. From a consumers view, once technology was adapted to E-commerce, user journeys on websites became more seamless, more secure and more satisfactory from homepage to checkouts. Business owners can now also easily manage stock levels, view thousands of products online and have their businesses represented in the best possible view online by our digital experts.

Supermarkets, restaurants, booking systems and more have all felt the effects of E-commerce’s evolution. It proved to be essential for the food industry in 2020 as more restaurants became eligible for takeaways with consumers at home. Inevitably, food order delivery companies like Uber Eats and Just Eat surged.

VARIATIONS OF E-COMMERCE & STATISTICS

Firstly, E-commerce isn’t just for major corporations and “big name players” such as Amazon & eBay. All size of business can benefit. 4 major industries profit immensely from online purchasing & selling: B2B (Business-to-business) is often one company selling supplies to another – a car manufacture selling parts to a garage. B2C (Business-to-Consumer) is the most common transaction of a business to a customer and occurs in nearly all business sectors. C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer) is predominantly branded as the eBay market as their business is the leader in that industry. E-commerce is available even for C2B ( Consumer-to-Business) where customers sell back to businesses. It can include customer reviews, participation in focus groups, or sharing/promotion as an influencer.

Here are some digestible statistics regarding E-commerce in 2020 & 2021

  • An article direct from the Office for National Statistics stated that volume of retail sales in April 2020 fell by a record 18.1%, following the strong monthly fall of 5.2% in March 2020
  • It’s estimated by an Oberlo study that there will be 2.14 billion global digital buyers in 2021. And, with an estimated global population of 7.7 billion people, that’s about 25 percent of the world’s population shopping online !
  • Finder posted an article stating that an Online fashion retailer named Boohoo had 8.9 million customers over the 2020 financial year. This is a 27% increase from the 7 million active customers in 2019 and a huge 493% increase from the 1.5 million active customers in the 2013 financial year.

You may have heard about Boohoo and ASOS before, these online giants with so much influence and market share when it comes to fashion. They have grown rapidly, alike to E-commerce, and their low cost clothing and fast delivery made it possible. Once transformed into an online powerhouse, they were able to takeover another online fashion retailer Pretty Little Thing in 2017. This truly showcased how much impact E-commerce has. In addition, without having a physical store, Boohoo were able to buy all digital assets of Debenhams in 2020 as they fell into administration.

If there was ever an example of E-commerce’s power in the modern day – this would be it.

THE CORONAVIRUS EFFECT ON THE HIGH STREET

It would be simple to whole heartedly blame Coronavirus and lockdown for the death and decline of the high street. It certainly played a crucial role in causing some retailers to close however, it was never the cause – more like the last nail in the coffin.

In reality, there are a variety of ongoing reasons causing struggle for the high street. Rising rents, operating costs and large inflation all are contributing factors for a decline in high street sales. Now brick and mortar retailers are unable to compete with online bargains, and not attracting the number of visitors needed. The Office for National Statistics stated that the decline of 1.0% for the quantity bought in retail sales in the three months to December 2019 was the largest decline since March 2017 – all prior to the pandemic.

A statistic from Press Release said that 61% of Brits are worried the high street will disappear completely in the next ten years due to the ever increasing number of big-name store closures. We know that the likes of Debenhams and Arcadia Group went into administration, but could E-commerce have played a large role in their fate, or were theirstruggles inevitable?

DEBENHAMS DOWNFALL

Debenhams have been struggling for years before the liquidation Proceedings began in December of 2020. They are the latest of major retailers to close down due to the ever increasing rents, wages, maintenance and overall poor financial management. Debenhams had a fully functioning website – however, did not fully invest in E-commerce enough to compete at all with store sales. Customers became too familiar with products, a lack of stock and ultimately shopping habits changed that Debenhams did not foresee. Other retailers such as Boohoo predicted these changes and have never looked back.

Nearly 12,000 Jobs were at risk once administration was announced, and the 242-year-old business, had now had its digital rights bought by Boohoo – without them having a physical store!

This truly cements the influence E-commerce has on modern retail.

Debenhams store before administration

DIGITAL MARKETING & E-COMMERCE FOR SME BUSINESSES

As to be expected, the recent unforeseen boom in online competitors has increased competition greatly. However, for smaller retailers looking to survive, compete & grow, a digital marketing strategy will help to get an edge over rivals.

Targeted SEO or search engine optimisation is designed for increasing organic (unpaid) traffic to your website. We optimise your website best with keyword placement, mobile first designing and off page optimisation like link building to name a few. These methods are proven to rank you higher in your local SERPs.

PPC or Pay Per Click Campaigns can also be extremely effective when promoting new sales/products or in coherence with a fresh SEO campaign. Using keywords and location specific adverts to give users a glimpse of your business products in Gloucester.

Both these strategies are proven to increase general online visibility. There may not be a greater tool for that than social media. Presenting your brand through Instagram, Facebook or even TikTok can be a great asset when competing in a digital industry. Social media marketing is vital. Posting images, videos and new content is sure to keep customers engaged, as well as being able to target accurately through Locations, ages and niche interests for example.

Our team of digital marketing professionals are experts at designing an online store that works coherently with your company’s message and USP.

E-commerce shopping

A REFLECTION OF E-COMMERCE IN 2020, AND FURTHER EXPLORATION OF WEBSITE SOLUTIONS IN 2021 (H2)

Pandemic or not, E-commerce has proven vital for businesses in the modern day. Again, where would we be without online shopping in 2020?

Gloucester business owners are remaining operational via E-commerce for an affordable investment. More businesses continue to utilise these websites fully and start to benefit during the disastrous pandemic. Search4Local specialise in E-commerce website solutions, proven to grow your digital presence during a time when online sales are crucial. Contact 01452 452144  or gloucesteroffice@search4local.co.uk to start your success today.

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