COVID-19 and the eCommerce Response

In 2020, New Zealand shoppers spent more than $1.2 billion online than they did in 2019, according to NZ Post's eCommerce Spotlight.  In the last two weeks of August 2021, during the Level 4 lockdown, a 50% increase of total online sales volume occurred via the Website World eCommerce platform. With the continuation of lockdowns and the predicted endemic status of COVID-19, the eCommerce arena is almost certainly likely to continue grow in volume.

NZ retailers both big and small are now identifying that they need an online presence; an online store that they can sell to customers from regardless of what's happening with the pandemic. This has lead to many new eCommerce sites going online, as well as the improvement of existing sites to offer customers additional payment options, features and products. 

Trading Continues During Lockdowns

COVID-19 lockdowns have not stopped the needs or wants of customers, only where they spend it. Retailers who benefited from the initial lockdowns did so because they already had (or quickly got) an online shop to sell from. Further lockdowns have only emphasised the fact that having the controllable online presence of a business website is essential for businesses to survive financially. Controllable is the key word here, as there are other ways to sell online without doing so through your own website. For instance, retailers can sell through a Facebook Shop attached to their page, but Facebook retains overall control of what products can be sold, and photos or words which can be used. 

An online shop owned and managed by a business has full autonomy regarding how their website looks and functions, and what they can sell. eCommerce businesses can also:

  • provide a range of payment options, including LayBuy, AfterPay, eWay, PayPal and Windcave
  • choose a website address or domain name
  • reach a wider online (local and global) audience
  • build ongoing relationships with customers online
  • offer unique time-sensitive pricing for discounts or special events
  • respond quickly according to demand, including taking back-orders
  • provide customers a contact-free pickup or delivery service
  • offer subscription services to customers
  • manage stock inventory online

However, it's not just during lockdowns that retailers benefit from having an online store; it's all the time. The convenience of online shopping and the predicted community presence of COVID-19 means that businesses who can sell online will continue to have an advantage over those which don't.

How COVID-19 Has Changed the Way Customers Shop

Remember the rush on toilet paper? The bare shelves in the supermarket, with no flour or pasta to be seen? COVID-19 resulted in many significant changes in the way people shop, such as:

  • purchasing in bulk, stockpiling household essentials and groceries
  • buying more preventative health and wellness products, and medicines
  • choosing online shopping over in-store visits
  • shopping fewer times, but in larger quantities
  • being very price conscious and comparing products online before purchasing
  • increased buying of products to manage personal health and safety, such as masks and hand sanitizer
  • buying different brands because of product shortages

The use of online shopping is predicted to keep rising, with customers choosing to use it to reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19. But it's not just sellers of clothing, office supplies and groceries that will continue to need an eCommerce website; the hospitality industry will too. From fast food, through to coffees and cooked meals, being able to take orders online and then provide a contactless delivery or pickup will also grow in popularity. Learn how selling food online using the Website World platform is simple and easy to get started; start your free trial today.

Why & How Businesses Have Responded to COVID-19

By far the biggest change we have seen in businesses is the move towards establishing and growing their presence online. This was achieved in many different ways such as increasing the number of products available online, updating their technology, setting up an eCommerce store and migrating an existing site to a better eCommerce platform. These and other marketing tools will continue to be used because of the generally accepted factors that:

  • customers have new shopping habits
  • COVID-19 will remain a risk in the community
  • more customers have access to mobile devices than ever before
  • customers want to check a product is available before visiting a store
  • customers will shop around for the best value online
  • customers seek out more information about products and businesses before making a purchase

As well as using websites to sell online, businesses are also increasing their presence within social media channels and in using paid advertising. Mask wearing and scanning when visiting stores are common place, and contact free pick ups are promoted to encourage locals to purchase and collect the same day to avoid shipping wait times.

Running a business online is now even more important than ever before. Start your free website trial today or contact us for personalised assistance.

Tags: ecommerce  

Posted: Wednesday 6 October 2021