Does COVID-19 really benefit Ecommerce?

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Female ecommerce owner working during covid 19

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I can say this with no doubt in my mind: after the current pandemic, the ecommerce industry is never gonna be the same. None of us has ever lived through something like this. Uncertainty and fear are leaving long-lasting impacts on market fluctuations and the situation has become more or less unpredictable. In this context, it is time to think about the relationship between business and ecommerce. 

On one hand, several marketing experts agree that online sales will increase as social distancing becomes standard behavior. People will be more exposed to online ads and will be less willing to go outside to buy non-essentials. However, on the less optimistic side, companies will also have to deal with a number of inconveniences like supply chain issues, shipping delays, or even demand drops as people choose to spend their money elsewhere. 

In any case, one thing is certain: businesses need to adapt. No matter where you stand regarding the economy and social safety measures, a proper transition to the digital ecosystem is essential to pull through the current scenario. 

 

The Challenges Ahead

Right now, no one can predict the real impact of coronavirus in the global economy. In fact, I’m pretty sure businesses across most industries are figuring things out as they go. But although the market will respond very differently depending on your location and the overall impact of the virus spread, one thing is certain: if you are a business leader, it is time to up your ecommerce game. 

I have personally witnessed how countless SMBs have instantly regretted their lack of attention to digital sales platforms. But while it is certainly not early, it’s not too late to jump on the ecommerce bandwagon. Online shopping will only continue to grow as time goes on, as the current lifestyle changes settle on the minds of consumers. 

Our greatest challenge will likely be leaving behind this rocky economy period. In my opinion, these are the 3 key things we will all need to prepare for in the short-term:

 

Fluctuating Demand

As I said before, we are at a stage of uncertainty. It’s safe to say that consumer behavior will change drastically depending on the circumstances. Target, for example, saw its digital sales grow by 275% in April, but still took a hit from the drop in in-store sales. And now that we are mostly past panic buying, we will probably start seeing some more discretionary spending from the general public. 

 

Strict Regulations

The reactivation of worldwide economies is not going back to normal like nothing ever happened. Even if a vaccine is released way sooner than expected, governments will definitely impose new safety regulations for all kinds of products and services. It is the legal and ethical responsibility of all businesses to comply with these and prevent the spread of the disease. This Contactless Delivery Spot from KFC Vietnam shows (in a quite entertaining way) how local regulations will affect their service.

 

Supply Chain Stability

This one will be the hardest one to stay on top of. Considering how Amazon itself had to endure massive strain to maintain the stability of its supply chain, it’s not difficult to see how it could take a toll on most businesses. Still, the real impact will depend on your particular situation. The best strategy right now is to keep a close relationship with suppliers and start preparing contingency plans. 

 

There’s a Lot To Do Now

In spite of these challenges, the volume of orders from ecommerce websites has increased by 47% compared to data from 2019. And while it’s true businesses have to deal with all kinds of limitations that reduce their efficiency in the short-term, these are all challenges we will eventually overcome – but the demand for online retail will prevail in the long-term. Here are a few things any business needs to keep in mind while going forward with ecommerce. 

 

Be Tactful

Communications (and advertising in particular) need to be transparent and timely. These are difficult times where most people are either suffering from the disease in some form or its impact on the economy. There is no need to risk leaving a bad taste in the customer’s mouth by using “coronavirus” as a promocode. In the same way, be clear with any issues your business is having, such as delivery delays, sanitation procedures, or out-of-stock products. Customers will appreciate the heads up and will be able to prepare without being left hanging. 

 

Diversify your Supply Chain

Diversification is one of the best ways to manage risk and that’s no secret. Start looking at options for diversifying product manufacturing and fulfillment. This may take a while, but it’s a recommended option for long-term strategies. It’s also a good idea to look at Supply Chain technologies that can make the most of the current situation, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, or machine learning.

 

Make the Most of Your Website

It’s absolutely critical that you have not only a functioning website, but that is optimized for the current situation. It’s possible most businesses will see more traffic than usual, which increases the risk of overloads and crashes if not prepared. You might also want to look into implementing modern technologies that optimize the user experience of your website, such as chatbots, dynamic pricing, or image processing. After all, the software outsourcing industry is one of the few economic sectors that continues to do business as usual. 

 

Find New Ways to Connect

These days, people are browsing the internet like never before. In a world where social distancing is the norm, we are all looking for connection. This is a great opportunity for businesses to build genuine, human, and personal relationships with their customers through social media or any digital means. After this pandemic, these companies will be the ones that customers will continue doing business with. 

 

Ecommerce in a Post-Pandemic World

In times like these, being pushed to our limits will continue forcing organizations to develop innovative short and long-term tactics. Whatever business strategy we all had before has certainly changed and it will probably continue to change. For now, it’s critical to be flexible. Changes are imminent and anything we know today might change tomorrow. 

Furthermore, as all kinds of operations and transactions continue migrating to the digital realm, we need to start considering our role in the post-pandemic world. Businesses need to shift towards ecommerce not just because of the benefits it will bring, but also because it’s one of the best ways we can fight the pandemic. The health and safety of the people around us are what’s most important. Stay safe – and innovate!

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