What will be the future of eCommerce after COVID-19?
I'm advising my eCommerce clients on a strategy plan for moving out of COVID-19 and was interested to hear what you all thought the market will look like? Thanks!
Hmm! Now there's an interesting question, Hatty. Allow me to change the point of emphasis: Will Covid 19 affect eCommerce and should we consider any changes that do occur as being permanent?
Credentials:Over several years I have personally worked through and invested in multiple drop-shipping projects, selling branded products online (websites inlucding Shopify and own sites) as well as selling branded and unbranded products on Amazon. I have extensively used Facebook Advertising and Amazon Advrtising. I have also used Google Advertising, though to a lesser extent.
My current experience is that there is a rush by new, micro-entrepreneurs to enter the market with drop-shipping websites - it's very visible on Facebook! This is IMO short-lived acceleration of an existing trend, whereby late-entrants to a relatively new market jump on board via courses that promise quick riches.
For most of them, I feel sorry. They are being fed BS that 'there has never been a better time'. And it is BS IMO because the hardest parts of ecommerce are not building websites and buying Facebook Ads, but the actual marketing and selling aspects which require both expertise and experience. Right now we have a good window for B2B sales, not B2C sales. Fake gurus sell someone else's tools. Experts sell knowledge to use those tools and get a return on investment. Am I off track here?!
Moving on - Prior to this Covid fiasco, eCommerce was already booming: A post from Jan 23 this year on Shopify (they should know!):
"Overall, the global retail market was expected to top $25 trillion USD in 2019. However, growth has slowed considerably versus the prior five years and is not expected to pick up through 2023...On the other hand, worldwide ecommerce sales topped $3.5 trillion USD, an increase of approximately 18% from the year before. Ecommerce is expected to nearly double by 2023 to more than $6.5 billion [trillion!]/KR."
This has/had nothing to do with Covid.
Covid is mainly lighting up the eyes of course-sellers who sell the idea of 'making hay while the sun shines' (or doesn't).
Having said all of that, many established businesses will add an online capability or improve their existing online presence sooner than they otherwise would have. I expect no impact on liong term trends because they are already so powerful. Mostly, these companies will be adequately resourced small and medium businesses. Whether or not ethey get a return on their investment depends on a lot more than their website.
Many businesses tht have hitherto operated by 'word of mouth' and 'didn't need a website' - and I have encountered a LOT of those - may simply sink and never rise again. As business dried up during Covid, many of those businesses could simply not be found by new customers. That's sad - but inevitable.
Covid will create a blimp in eCommerce trnds IMO, nothing more.
A final word, because many entrepreneurs considering entering the online world might read this:
Most people entering business online have absolutely no idea where the pain points will be (been there!). Making a profit online is not easy once you factor in all of the costs. It's a great place to be, but please do not be misled by 'Gurus'. Just yesterday I posted (helpfuly) ten real problems of the Amazon seller business model on a FB post advertising a 'Guru Book'. It was immediately deleted.
Have a GREAT day all of you.
Be aware of something called the transference of expectation - a customer's best experience anywhere becomes the expectation everywhere.
If your site isn't as easy to navigate as booking an Uber, has payment solutions as simple as Amazon and the visual appeal of Airbnb, you're going to struggle to compete.
Yes Hattie - I try to provide useful information to help others and help them to avoid the mistakes I made. Right now I am writing a LONG article on Online Business Engineering that might help a lot of young and inexperienced online entrepreneurs. I should have it published by ene end of today. IOt will contain a compemdium of issues we all face online.
The important thing is to keep your marketing efforts up.
Help your clients and prospects as much as you can. Phone calls are excellent. Emails work too. Helping out and serving as much as you can during these challenging times. This keeps your business "front of mind" and your network will appreciate your efforts.
Do keep explaining how you help your network and the problems that you help with so they know who to call.
The research has shown over the past century during times of disruption those businesses that keep their marketing efforts up are rewarded with extra sales when times change.
e-commerce has boomed since COVID and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Consumers have become more accustomed to and familiar with shopping online. Even I have taken to doing my grocery shopping online and that was a rarity for me prior to COVID.
Everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon... They soup up their site, get things set up and whinge about the cost... Then they sit back and watch, sometimes not much happens. They jump onto social media, tweak a few things and then get annoyed at their time being taken up for not much gain.
They ask their coach, accountant, advisor, business mates, what next? Then the big questions come... What is your marketing budget? What is your marketing plan? How would you describe your target market? What return do you need to get to pay for all this?
They do some exploring, spend more time fluffing about and some smart alec says "What did you do during lockdown? You could have done all this when you had the free time, call yourself a business owner!"
Welcome to business, more challenges than we know what to do with. Then at 2am... "Ah delegation", now there's an idea.
In the last six months we saw a lot of clients who had been sitting on the sidelines, being forced to take action into digitising their businesses. As others have mentioned, that is actually the easy part. The real work now begins in geting found and marketing their businessses.
Here's my three-step COVID-19 strategy plan:
One of my regular sayings is "your biggest competitor is rarely in the same town as you", and what I mean by this is that the internet creates new competitors by the hour and they can be anywhere in the world. on top of competing in your own market you are literally competing for "attention" with all those businesses.
So Step 1 is embrace the power of grouping!
This involves joinging forces with other local businesses. Create a focus point where you can identify yourself as local and make it easy to do business with you. You can share marketing costs and reach a wider audience than you could as a single business.
Think local directories and social media groups.
Step 2 is virtual selling. Think about how you are displaying and showcasing your products and services in the physical world and start to replicate those interactions virtually. Think video walkthrough of your shop, virtual 360 imagery with clickable links to your products, or building your very own home shopping show.
The technology for all these is already here and relatively cheap.
Step 3 is preparing for the unpredictability of COVID-19
We only need to refer back to what is happening at the moment in Europe to know that a spike in cases and return to lockdowns can happen at any time. Why not prepare for the fact that this could go on for much longer and start putting additional contactless meausures into place that help manage shoppers and order pickup in a safe environment?
Think QR codes, personalised apps and messaging services
Hang on for the ride, 2021 is going to be all about speed !!
COVID-19 has contributed to rapid growth in the e-commerce industry in a very short period of time. Most companies have had to adapt or invest in e-commerce with the loss of their traditional storefront to take their business online.
I've read some interesting articles recently about augmented reality becoming the norm, to create the 'browsing' experience that a physical space offers. It's also predicted that mobile will become even more popular than it already is and that these will offer a more 'social' online shopping experience.
Thanks Hatty - will do when ready