The coronavirus pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for retailers, but also new opportunities for growth. If your brand isn’t already selling online, 2021 is the year to change that. Here’s why.
The events of the past 12 months have accelerated the growth of e-commerce in the UK. Pre-pandemic, online shopping was already threatening the success of bricks and mortar stores. In the first quarter of 2020, online sales made up 20.3% of total UK retail. By the second quarter, with non-essential shops closed during lockdown and most people confined to their homes, this had risen to 31.3%.
Almost a year after the first lockdown, the high street is once again deserted. E-commerce offers brands a way to continue selling regardless of lockdown restrictions, without the costs and ongoing uncertainty of running a physical store.
At the height of the first lockdown in May 2020, 42% of UK shoppers said they would shop online more in the future. By August, despite non-essential stores reopening, that figure had risen to 55%.
UK consumers also believe that their shopping habits have changed for the long-term, with shoppers expecting to make 35% less physical shopping trips in the future. Investing in an e-commerce platform will allow your brand to take advantage of this increase in online shopping, future proofing your business as more consumers choose digital.
Where consumers used to pop to the shops to purchase certain items, many have bought online for the first time. 38% of UK consumers purchased something online which they had previously only bought in store. If your brand has relied on local business in a physical store, offering customers the option of buying online is the best way to ensure that they continue to shop with you even when your shop is forced to close.
In 2020, 84% of UK shoppers used online sources to support their purchases. With Saturday afternoons browsing the shops not an option, more people than ever before turned to the internet to research and source products. This shift was driven by over 55s, with 81% doing online research in 2020, up from 62% in 2019.
Ensuring potential customers discover your brand during their online research is essential, which is why digital marketing is even more of a smart investment in 2021. And with new shoppers coming online who aren’t as digital savvy, now more than ever your online store needs to be easy to find and easy to navigate.
If you already have an e-commerce website, is it working for your business? With 86% of UK shoppers naming convenience as the most important factor when choosing an online retailer, a poorly-designed website could be costing you sales. Simply having an online shop isn’t enough. Your brand needs to offer a smooth, stress-free buying experience that keeps customers coming back.
Whether you have never sold online before, or you have an online store but want to make it more successful, Unity Online can help. From developing your website to managing your digital marketing campaign, our team can offer the support you need to embrace e-commerce and grow your business.