Everyday Musings, Life, Listicles, Shopping

5 Ways E-Commerce Proved to Be A Blessing During the Pandemic

 

The beginning of 2020, marked the end of a notable decade. Most of us were pumped up with hope and optimism about the coming year, and even the onset of a new decade full of promising outcomes.

Yes, we had all pretty much become comfortable with the use of internet for our daily entertainment, and sometimes even for necessities. But little did we anticipate that our whole lifestyle would see a paradigm shift. That our world would become limited to the world wide web rather than the other way round.

We had all pretty much become comfortable with the use of internet for our daily entertainment, and sometimes even for necessities but little did we anticipate that our whole lifestyle would see a paradigm shift.

Come March-April, 2020, all of us were inclined to stay at home as much as possible. This was frustrating, yes, but the one good thing was that, everything we needed to survive, was at the tips of our fingers.

How was this possible?

There’s one simple answer: E-Commerce.

For users/consumers as well as for businesses, the pandemic served as a means to survive. How so? Let’s find out.

For the consumers:

1. It Became Easier to Avoid Crowds and Follow Social Distancing

With the outbreak of the pandemic and following announcement of a lockdown, we were forced to stay indoors as much as possible. Though offline shopping was possible, it came with two limitations:

  • The shops were open only for a certain time-period everyday
  • These shops were almost always crowded

Given these drawbacks, a lot of consumers started opting for online shopping of most products and services, including everyday essentials.

This survey by Mckinsey & Company shows how consumers have opted for e-commerce platforms across all product and service categories:

Source: Mckinsey & Company

2. Cashless/Contactless and Secure Shopping + Payment Options

At the onset of the pandemic, a lot of speculations were running around regarding how the virus was spreading about. One of the speculations also mentioned that currency exchanged physically, from one hand to the other, could be a carrier too.

Thanks to e-commerce platforms, this speculation could be put to rest. Consumers had the option to opt for contactless or cashless payment of goods (and even the delivery of goods) . This gave much needed peace of mind, during a time when there was already so much panic related to the virus.

This chart by clearly shows a hike in the % of consumers opting for digital payments.

Source: Unctad

Another report by eMarketer says, “the number of people globally who used proximity mobile payments in 2020 grew 22.2% year over year.”

For the businesses:

1. Small and medium sized businesses were saved from loss and shutdown

The younger generation had already moved on to online shopping before the pandemic. A lot of small and medium sized businesses were already taking advantage of e-commerce for a diverse reach. It was a two-way model, where businesses had offline as well as online presence. But there were (and are!) some stores and business owners that relied mostly on offline sales and daily footfall of consumers to keep their businesses going.

A lot of physical stores were either shut during the initial lockdown. Those that operated, were allowed to do offline business only for a few hours. Even during these hours, not many people dropped into their stores. The worst hit were those stores and businesses that were not selling essential commodities.

E-commerce platforms proved to be a boon for such businesses. The setting up of shop was quite straightforward, which made e-commerce even more lucrative.

Analysts at Mckinsey provided data that, 20-30% of business moved online during pandemic’s peak. Here’s a graph that shows increase in e-commerce sales post the pandemic.

Source: Unctad

In the country itself, over 10 lakh SMBs (small and mid-size business) were said to be working with the biggest and most popular e-commerce platform, Amazon.

Source: The Economic Times

2. A Wider, Global Reach

For many consumers, especially those above 45 years of age, their shopping was limited to the store nearest to their house. Be it for groceries or for anything else, they didn’t go beyond 5 kms for purchasing anything. This meant limited options for consumers, and even limited scope of sales + reach for the businesses.

However, thanks to e-commerce, the consumers have no dearth of choice, in any segment. For businesses, this literally meant, ‘sky is the limit’, when it came to targeting new customers.

As per this article, Indian SMBs (small and mid-size business) are going to rule the global market in this decade.

Source: Amazon

3. Easier to Connect Directly With End Users and Understand Consumer Behaviour

Earlier, in offline business system, owners and employees had to to rely on their understanding to depict consumer bheaviour. Their understanding was based on their interactions with the customers or on market research.

Though this was reliable to some extent, it proved to be extensive and in some cases, dated. Thanks to e-commerce and internet, it is now easier to track the online activities of existing as well as targeted consumers. There are reliable algorithms which make this process easier and more reliable.

Because the pandemic has seen an increase in the number of people opting to shop online, the size of target audience for e-commerce platforms has increased too. Each user who visits the site or makes a purchase, becomes easier to target. This ultimately benefits the businesses in increasing their reach and sales.

An article by Observer Research Foundation, shares this food-for-thought on consumer bhevaiour post covid.

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Overall, the authorities, government and concerned departments, also could not ignore the rising importance of e-commerce. This probably explains the following graphs.

Source: Unctad
Source: Unctad

In conclusion, though the pandemic has significantly altered our lifestyles, we must be grateful that it came at a time when we have technology and e-commerce to help us survive and grow our businesses.

Note: This post is written as part of Blogchatter’s campaign #ECommerceBuildsEconomy

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