E-commerce is experiencing an unprecedented boom, whether it involves B2B, consumer goods, professional services, or family entertainment like Netflix. People are taking advantage of it to responsibly socially distance themselves, and businesses are pivoting to e-commerce to protect employees and continue generating vital revenue.
Mass Migration to E-Commerce
According to recent research and analysis, e-commerce sales of a variety of essential products have increased 800 percent or more. Many people are being compelled by COVID-19 to use e-commerce for the first time in their lives. They are experimenting with services like online bill pay and digital grocery and pharmacy shopping. Companies are also adjusting their business models to fulfill the needs of their customers, engage with them online, and serve them through e-commerce sites.
Convenience and Safety
As more consumers turn to e-commerce, they discover why it’s so extremely popular. E-commerce delivers convenience, saves time, and enables 24/7 shopping from the comfort of home. Even if they pay slightly more for groceries, for example, they can easily justify the added cost. After all, who wouldn’t rather spend their time doing something other than finding a parking space and then pushing a shopping cart up and down the aisles? Businesses also gain the convenience of attracting local, regional, national, and multinational customers in the global marketplace.
A Permanent Shift
A former chief executive of eBay was quoted in the business media predicting that by this summer e-commerce will account for more than 20 percent of all U.S. retail sales. That’s a phenomenal surge, considering it was approximately half that much at the beginning of the year. But that conversion to e-commerce depends upon a user-friendly and reassuring online shopping experience. To facilitate that, businesses need to have an intuitively navigated website with a seamlessly integrated payment and shipping/delivery system. Consumers expect features like digital shopping carts, “pay-now” buttons, e-invoices and receipts, and subscription-based options for products or services they buy on a recurring basis.
Security and Privacy
Businesses have to figure out how to offer the kinds of customer service features that bigger, more established retailers do. They must also protect themselves from financial and legal liability that can happen due to a cyber breach and theft of sensitive data. Online retailers and B2B enterprises need securely encrypted payment methods that meet stringent PCI compliance standards. They cannot store the personal and financial data of their customers on site, where it can be stolen. Reviewing and updating insurance policies is also prudent, since coverage for a brick-and-mortar business may not extend to e-commerce activities.
Affordable and Proactive Solutions
The historic acceleration in e-commerce is a good opportunity for any business, and may potentially offset unexpected financial losses. Naturally, businesses may feel that they are unprepared and ill-equipped to make a rapid transition into e-commerce. But there are plug-in and turnkey solutions and cloud technologies that can enable them to be up and running almost immediately. Just as businesses can use technologies like Zoom to help them collaborate remotely, they can also easily leverage powerful e-commerce technology that requires no IT expertise or additional infrastructure.
That can position them to efficiently and affordably adapt to the “new normal.” It can also ensure that businesses emerge from the pandemic stronger, more competitive, more productive, and more sustainable.