2020 has been a tumultuous year, with many setbacks and life-changing events happening worldwide. As we enter the subsequent phases post circuit breaker, Covid-19 has affected many lives as well as shaped new habits. From getting used to wearing masks all the time to maintaining a one-meter safety distance when out in public, these are all new behaviours that have become the norm. On top of that, Covid-19 has also reshaped the way we shop, most notably on eCommerce platforms. As physical stores were not allowed to open, more people resorted to shopping from the comforts of their own home and relying on online retailers to get their goods.
The United States and Canada saw a whopping 146% year-over-year growth in all online retail orders in April. This, despite the unemployment rate hitting an all-time high since World War 2. In Singapore, things are no different with online grocery shopping being the fastest-growing sector. Retailers such as RedMart and NTUC FairPrice’s online platforms rose quickly in popularity as people seek alternative ways to get their essential food products. Singapore’s government also encouraged the switch to go online, in an effort to get businesses to diversify their revenue streams beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar model. There’s even an eCommerce Booster Package to help small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) retailers new to the platforms.
It’s no surprise that online shopping has caught on, with the efficiency and convenience that it offers making it easy for new users to get used to. The South-east Asia region also sees a similar trend with, e-Commerce orders soaring to 96 percent for the week ending May 11, as compared with the same period last year, according to advertising platform Criteo. eCommerce is taking the world by storm and the pandemic unknowingly assisted in paving the way for its rapid growth.
Let’s face it, eCommerce is here to stay long after we go back to our normal post-pandemic lives. 76% of Singaporeans indicated that they’re unlikely to return to pre-outbreak online shopping levels.
Humans are creatures of habit and even when we’re all allowed to go out and physical retail stores have reopened, the possibility of us incorporating this new habit into our previous shopping routine is very high. For example, we may head to the physical store to check for the physical product before deciding to purchase it online, or compare prices online and instore to get the best deals. It’s the integration of these new habits that bring forth new possibilities and increase the choices for consumers to choose from. As a vaccine is yet to be developed for Covid-19, we’re also likely to have to continue social distancing and minimise leaving the house as much as necessary, hence choosing to shop online is a hassle-free way to solve that problem.
With a surge in demand, there will also be supply issues as well as logistic challenges. Online grocers found themselves swamped with orders, preventing them from providing enough delivery slots for online purchases. Retailers need to carefully plan their stock and deliveries in order to meet demand. Consider also partnering with businesses that specialise in delivery fulfilment such as Deliveroo, GoGoVan, Grab, and Ninja Van. NinjaVan is hoping to profit off the surge in eCommerce orders and strengthen their position in the logistics industry. Outsourcing your logistics and deliveries to a third-party vendor will help in making things easier for your business.
Another challenge for businesses looking to go online is also competing with every other store that has also gone online. How do you ensure your business stands out amidst the competition? Consider making your online presence known by taking advantage of social media, establishing your own website, registering your business on different online retail platforms as well as making sure your content is mobile-friendly. Mobile devices are the most popular device for online shopping with 72% of consumers mobile devices to shop according to the latest PYMNTS’ 2020 Remote Payments Study. As much as eCommerce presents new opportunities for your business to improve sales, it also introduces new marketing challenges.
Covid-19 has changed eCommerce as we used to know it and we’ll now have new habits that may last as we exit circuit breaker. While the pandemic affected many lives, it’s also helping to introduce new opportunities, we just need to know where to look. If your business is looking to make the switch to online but was hesitant before, we hope this article helped in appeasing your worries on the viability of eCommerce! Stay safe, everyone.
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