When the New Zealand government first announced the country was going into lockdown as a response to Covid-19 arriving in our communities, people started panic-buying online, crashing supermarket websites and other online retail stores. Though IT experts have since found ways to respond to the increasing demand and the system has recovered, the global Coronavirus pandemic has changed our shopping behaviour dramatically. And the impact seems to be long lasting.
In April 2020, the US Commerce Department reported for the first time ever that online sales had surpassed traditional in-store shopping. According to Forbes, there was a 146% growth in all online retail orders for the same month in the US and Canada compared to last year. And in New Zealand, Office Max has announced it will close all 14 stores by the end of October to focus entirely on online retail.
Covid-19 has disrupted business for most retailers in some form, whether they offer their services in-store, online or use a mix of both. There has been a huge shift to online retail all over the world, bringing along a range of challenges as well as benefits for consumers and business owners alike.
During lockdown, many people were forced to shop online even if they had never considered doing so ever before. And with Covid likely to stick around for months to come, many consumers now prefer the safety of shopping from home rather than potentially being exposed to the new virus while visiting physical stores. This opens up new possibilities for businesses that are able to adapt to these challenging times.
Based on data retrieved from Covid-19 Commerce Insight, revenue in New Zealand generated from e-commerce has increased by 139% compared to last year. That is a promising number for any business that offers their goods and services to consumers online. Those that have already been able to establish a consistent online client base will definitely have an advantage, while others who are just implementing online services now will have to work hard to gain the trust of new and established traditional shoppers.
As New Zealanders are becoming more familiar with online shopping, and their trust in e-commerce as well as systems such as click & collect increases, businesses will be able to attract new clientele. Furthermore, while the borders remain closed to foreigners and with overseas purchases having become more difficult due to Covid-19 around the globe, Kiwis might also turn their focus to local and national retailers, supporting the country’s economy and boosting revenue of their fellow countrymen.
Especially with repeated stay-at-home orders in place and businesses having to close their doors to customers to avoid face-to-face contact, traditional shops are facing the toughest challenge of all: survival. Unless they find a way to move their business online, the future in a Covid-19 world is looking grim.
But even for those that have successfully created an online presence, the job is only half done. Online consumers have different demands and expectations that need to be met in order to keep up with the times and the competition.
Now is the best time to take your business online. But once that is done, you need to ensure that you meet the demands of online users by providing them with a website that is up to scratch, easily accessible, reliable and user-friendly. Furthermore, it is essential that your website is optimized for usage on all devices including smartphones, otherwise you will most likely be missing out on the majority of potential sales.
Relying on traditional customer service methods is not enough to survive in the online world. With more and more businesses being forced to move their services online, staying ahead of the competition can be tough. However, the right online tools can help your business to stand out from the crowd and give your customers the best possible online shopping experience across all channels.
The biggest fear that consumers have when shopping online is that sensitive data such as passwords or credit card details are being stolen and misused. Generating trust in your website among potential clients can prove a challenge for smaller or new online businesses, so it is important that you put the right measures in place to safeguard your own data as well as that of your website visitors and clients.
The global pandemic has boosted e-commerce sales faster than many retailers were prepared for. There is plenty of opportunity for growth for businesses that embrace and improve their digital technologies to keep up with the new demand and the different needs of online shoppers.
If you would like more information on how to increase your online presence and implement tools to attract more customers, contact the friendly team at Energise Web today.