By Leo Shastri, Director – Operations & Strategy, Usha Exim Private Limited
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has impacted every sector of our economy and the most prominent being retail. The work from home and social distancing measures has made every requirement of ours just a click away. As the situation is changing every now and then depending upon the surge in COVID cases, people are coming to terms with the new normal. Experts feel that the COVID-19 has accelerated the e-commerce growth to such an extent, which would have taken four to six years to achieve. It shows that just to fulfill their necessity; many more people have started shopping online. Companies who didn’t have their presence on e-commerce, too, have scrambled to rectify that. Covid-19, then, has begun what looks like a second boom in e-commerce.
Changed consumer preferences
In many nations including India, people will continue to adhere to social distancing measures and be avoiding crowded places for retail therapy post the Covid-19 pandemic. If we see the current condition when many businesses are open but the footfall to retail stores remains down. That’s due both to social distancing measures and changed consumer preferences. Customers have realized that with the advent of AI and chatbots, shopping online has become a more convenient and safer option. The popping online messages, getting an advanced shipping notice, and then taking delivery are the way to go. In fact, Covid-19 has resulted in a more permanent shift to online retailing over brick-and-mortar retail. Even many brands have announced store closures and a host of post-purchase surveys also show that consumers are more elated and satisfied with e-commerce experiences.
All the age-group migrated online
Gone are the days when millennials or youth opted for e-commerce. The pandemic has made every age group shop online not only in India but also in the world. In India, for instance, cash withdrawals have fallen sharply during the pandemic. Simultaneously, though, the use of the Indian online payment platform, UPI, has risen dramatically. A leading e-commerce website’s recent sales figures ably show the uptick in online shopping. In 2020’s second quarter, the e-commerce giant showed a 40% year-on-year increase in net sales. That equated to a financial boost of more than USD 88 billion. Removing Other Barriers to Purchase for stress-free shopping
As people are losing jobs or going through major pay cuts, finance will take little time to settle. Therefore, buying on finance – buy now, pay later – has been taking hold when it comes to online shopping. With a new range of goods expected by online shoppers, though, this seems likely to change. Brands that do have an online presence can also make changes for the post-Covid world. They can look to make e-commerce offerings more accessible to a greater number of people. That means removing barriers to purchase.
The intensity with which the crisis will change our world, the result will be witnessed in the coming years. For some businesses, though, Covid-19 has created opportunities as well as challenges. Ecommerce, in particular, looks set for a boom that will last far longer than the pandemic itself. Consumers – by necessity – have come further around to the benefits of shopping online. Forward-thinking firms, then, should be preparing now for the upcoming post-Covid era. That’s one that will be more digitalized than ever before.