The norms of e-commerce have virtually been redefined since the pandemic. Our lifestyles are becoming digitised in a progressive touch-free environment, altering how we participate, communicate, and perceive day-to-day existence. Online purchasing habits have evolved with the majority of customers who traditionally spent on brick-and-mortar shops now purchasing online to meet their daily necessities.
However, the advent of e-commerce in the pandemic has not been without flaws. At the peak of the disease outbreak in early 2020, retailers experienced supply chain interruption, shock shortages, and economic loss as they welcomed millions of additional customers. Many people resorted to overseas supplies to alleviate their problems, Worldpay found that 55% of online shoppers worldwide have purchased from another country in 2020. With the unpredictable pandemic progression, sellers will understandably ask if this growth is permanent. Planning for a post-pandemic world will be more important than ever.
Here are some of the most important eCommerce effects in the post-pandemic future and how eCommerce evolved amid pandemic which all sellers should be aware of.
CROSS-BORDER AND INTERNATIONAL MARKETPLACES
As consumers gravitated to emerging ‘digital shopping centres,’ e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba, Amazon, and Taobao all experienced exponential growth this year, fuelled by the revolution of online retail.
During the pandemic, we saw widespread disruption across a wide range of industries, leading to an expected emphasis on e-commerce, with international e-commerce platforms playing a critical role in their rise. Websites like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Taobao have all seen record development this year, rapidly transforming themselves into international “virtual malls” of the future. Even at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Forbes reported that online conversion rates increased 8.8% in February 2020, reflecting a level of shopping urgency typically seen during Cyber Mondays.
The once-localised marketplace confined to brick-and-mortar establishments has gone worldwide, with both sellers and buyers becoming aware of the diversity of goods provided online. Specialised digital bazaar sales, like Prime Day and Singles Day, have nearly doubled their year-on-year income – expanding a foreign footprint is now easier than ever. Experienced sellers can continue to thrive on a cross-border marketplace that is predicted to increase 27% to roughly $5 trillion by 2026 by leveraging the correct operational and awareness solutions such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, progressive web applications (pwas), smart supply chain management, and premium services.
According to a poll conducted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), customers in emerging economies have made the biggest move to online shopping during the pandemic. More than half of the study’s total respondents buy online these days and depend on the internet more for headlines, health-related data, and entertainment content since the outbreak began, according to a poll of 3,700 consumers from nine emerging and developed economies, including Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland, and Turkey. However, China and Turkey experienced the greatest growth in e-commerce popularity, while Switzerland and Germany saw the slowest growth because more customers were already purchasing online.
SUPPLY CHAIN DIVERSIFICATION
To say that lockdown limitations had an impact on supply chains in 2020 would be an understatement. At the height of the crisis, factory interruption emphasised the vulnerability of depending on a sole supplier for supplies. With limited options on hand, the drive to broadening supply sources to reduce financial ramifications has prompted an industry-wide rethinking.
As a result, the movement to diversify accelerated for manufacturers and sellers alike, who would otherwise have relied on established suppliers. Challenges are abundant, such as political and competitive pressures, exchange rates, freight costs, delivery leadtime, local duties and taxes, availability of materials, temporary trade restrictions, just to name a few.
Yet consumers will continue to expect low prices, particularly during the economic downturn, while companies are not able to charge more even though they might pay more costs for material, freight, manpower, and other manufacturing costs.
Companies need to understand their own vulnerabilities and carefully consider the steps required to diversify their supply base and maintain their competitiveness in the marketplace.
Consumer preferences and demands are continually changing as the world evolves, altering the pace and method in which goods and services are supplied. In this era of instant gratification, consumers are willing to spend more for same-day delivery, as reported in an article by Lalamove. The ‘new normal’ of rapid delivery in as little as 2 hours has prompted retailers to reassess their customer support strategy, thanks to e-commerce platforms such as Amazon Prime, Walmart, and Best Buy.
Now, efficiency, price, and formerly optional ‘add-ons’ are the differentiating competitive advantages that have helped businesses gain a bigger share of the pie in the marketplace.
EMERGENCE OF SOCIAL COMMERCE
In a year that has witnessed the rapid boom of e-commerce, the commercial benefits for retailers to sell through social media platforms are tremendous. Social platforms such as Instagram have already shown to be efficient in driving sales. According to Hootsuite’s article on Instagram, 130 million people click on shoppable ads each month. Emerging digital trends such as voice SEO, integrated smart chatbots, one-click shoppable are all part of the ecosystem that will aid social commerce.
BOOM OF LIVE STREAMING ECOMMERCE:
With the rise of social commerce, one component that’s eminent on social platforms is the increasing popularity of live streaming sessions by social influencers to promote products and services.
One of the biggest reason why livestream e-commerce has gained traction is the ability for brands and retailers to offer consumers an engaging and safe experience to buy goods and services, ask questions and get immediate responses “in-person”, while appropriately adhering to health standards like social distance, much like in an in-person environment.
COVID-19 unquestionably altered the retail business and had a massive effect on eCommerce. Before the disease outbreak, buy-online, pick-up-in-store alternatives were slow to take hold, but curbside and related omnichannel solutions expanded years later during COVID-19. Even individuals who were previously opposed to Internet buying altered their minds. Curbside pickup, eCommerce, and virtual possibilities have all become the standard.
Now that vaccines are being distributed, there are many unanswered questions about retail. Is the dramatic move to eCommerce post-pandemic lasting, or will malls reopen after the pandemic? Well, time can truly give us the answer.
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