The pandemic had a tremendous effect on the e-commerce industry during 2020 as consumers were forced to stay at home and they had to rely on online businesses to buy almost everything going from household essentials to entertainment devices.
Data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development indicates that global e-commerce volumes jumped to $26.7 trillion last year with China accounting for over 5% of that total followed by the United States, where over $791.7 billion were sold through online channels.
Companies including Alibaba, Amazon, JD.com, Pinduoduo, and Shopify are at the top of the list of the most visited websites where people went (and currently go) to shop, although it is important to note that Shopify is a platform on top of which other businesses build their e-commerce interfaces.
Now, as the world is progressively stepping out of the pandemic, is it possible that we’ll see similar volumes in 2021? Or are things going to get back to normal once everybody gets back to their offices and regular routines?
The following article discusses some of the scenarios for e-commerce businesses for once the pandemic becomes an item in the rearview mirror.
McKinsey: Higher volumes have continued in 2021
The well-reputed consulting firm McKinsey & Company released a report on 11 August this year that analyzed consumer behavior in the United States. According to their survey, e-commerce sales have continued to move higher in 2021 with online penetration remaining 35% above pre-COVID levels while volumes have grown over 40% in the past 12 months.
Comparatively, the study showed that brick & mortar retail sales experienced a minor advance of around 5% during that same period, meaning that most of the growth that the retail sector is experiencing is being absorbed and driven by online businesses.
Platforms like Shopify have emerged as major winners of this trend, as businesses have flocked to the platform to rapidly build their online presence through a user-friendly interface while relying on applications developed by third parties to further strengthen multiple areas of their online experience.
In 2020, Shopify reported a 96% jump in its gross merchandise volumes (GMVs), which landed at $119.6 billion, while the number of consumers who bought from at least one of the company’s merchants grew 52% compared to the previous year to over 457 million shoppers.
Websites like Keep Shoppers, which specializes in building a community where store owners can share experiences and grow together, have seen their traffic volumes increase in these past months as thousands of businesses have flocked to the internet to remain competitive in this rapidly evolving landscape.
By allowing store owners to interact with each other, Keep Shoppers is actively aiding this growing community of online businesses to leverage on their collective knowledge to accelerate the pace at which e-commerce stores attract new consumers every day.
Post-pandemic trends to keep an eye on
With research pointing to the possibility that online shopping volumes may never go back to pre-pandemic levels, business owners should know that even though the demand will remain there, consumer preferences and habits are evolving rapidly.
One interesting trend is related to the logistics of online shopping as consumers appear to be more demanding when it comes to delivery times. In this regard, the largest players in the space have launched solutions to tackle this issue as is the case of Amazon Prime and Walmart, who are know offering same-day deliveries.
Meanwhile, delivery services such as Uber and Deliveroo are also offering the possibility of shopping for groceries through their platforms while guaranteeing same-day delivery as well.
With that in mind, successful online stores nowadays must offer the fastest delivery window possible to remain competitive.
Moreover, social media channels have gained even more strength during the pandemic as billions of people remained glued to their phones to entertain themselves during their confinement.
In this regard, experts coincide that usage volumes will probably remain elevated even after the pandemic is over and businesses must strengthen their social media presence to connect with prospective customers while also offering a channel through which existing ones can interact with a humanized brand.
Finally, Shopify, the popular e-commerce platform we mentioned above, has recently shared the top ten products that consumers are planning to buy online once the pandemic is over. Here goes the list:
- Baby clothing.
- Virtual classes and experiences.
- Exercise equipment.
- Household cleaning products.
- Beauty products.
- Personal care products.
- Athleisure clothing.
- Clothing accessories.
- Pet supplies.
How much of your budget goes to an online business right now? If you do the math, you’ll probably figure out that the pace at which the digital transformation is occurring is accelerating and we are all a part of it.
As a result, e-commerce businesses will likely remain the dominant force of the retail landscape for years and the pandemic has served as the perfect catalyst to prompt the entire world to experience the benefits of shopping online.