The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise. The incident affected a lot of businesses both positively and negatively, and e-commerce was not left out.
According to a report by the UN Conference on the Trade and Development Report, global trade in goods and services was reduced by 9%. In contrast, e-commerce increased notably from 14% to 17% because of accelerated growth in online shopping. The pandemic served as a core catalyst for e-commerce growth. We are about to explore some of the challenges and opportunities the pandemic brought for e-commerce.
The Challenges to E-commerce
The unexpected digital revolution brought about by COVID-19 had a significant impact on some businesses, particularly small e-commerce brands. Most of these e-commerce brands struggled to adapt to trends and compete with major established companies because they were not fully equipped or prepared for the surge in online business.
To survive in a somewhat competitive market during such a difficult time, businesses were forced to make major changes in their marketing strategies as a result of the pandemic. Some of the challenges were:
- Poor online visibility for emerging brands that were still establishing their reputation, making it difficult for target customers to find them;
- Supply chain: scarcity was caused by excessive demand for products, causing businesses to lose potential sales;
- Delivery system: Due to the increased demand, a more efficient delivery system was required to ensure that customers received their orders as soon as possible;
- The increase in orders put an undue strain on businesses, and some e-commerce brands struggled to meet their sales targets.
Opportunities for E-commerce
In the world of e-commerce, the pandemic came with a great deal of technological and digital advancement, which boosted business growth. It was almost as if there had been a time shift; most of the e-commerce trends predicted for 2030 occurred in 2020.
Let me explain further.
Retail for e-commerce businesses has increased from 5% to 15% in the last eight years, according to CNBC. During the pandemic, however, there was a massive improvement, and it only took about ten weeks to go from 15% to 25%. Consider the dramatic difference in performance. The pandemic provided the necessary impetus for both businesses and consumers to adopt e-commerce.
Consumer behavior quickly changed as a result of the movement restrictions. Customers' spending habits were shifting away from traditional stores and toward online retailers. This is expected to have a long-term impact.
This situation is being exploited by e-commerce brands. Most have advocated for the use of augmented and virtual reality to provide customers with an in-store shopping experience. E-commerce platforms such as Shoplazza, Shopify, and Wix have also grown rapidly in recent years.
Again, with the significant improvement in social commerce. Customers prefer to shop directly from their preferred brand through social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. Brands are actively utilizing these platforms by improving their strategies to reach their target audience on the platforms.
It is critical that businesses capitalize on this online growth and experiment with new approaches to improve sales and customer experiences. To be in the best position to serve their customers, e-commerce businesses must critically evaluate their current marketing strategies.
In a somewhat competitive market, e-commerce companies must upscale or risk losing customers to better brands. They should fully embrace technology in order to establish themselves as experts in their field while also improving operational efficiency.
I hope this article has helped you better understand the challenges and opportunities that e-commerce businesses are currently facing.
What are your plans for the post-COVID era?
(Contributed by: Ayotomiwa Omotosho & Hermes Fang)