The world of retail is undergoing a transformation. Over the last decade or so, there has been a marked shift away from the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping model – so much so that many of our previously most-successful and prominent companies have ended up going to the wall, faced by insurmountable market pressures caused by the meteoric rise of e-commerce.
Moreover, as the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds continue to blur and we entrust more and more of our personal and business data in online systems, the rise in e-com surely shows no signs of slowing.
The COVID effect
The emergence of Coronavirus in Wuhan, China in late 2019 caused many changes to our lives – not least of which was a dramatic rise in online shopping. Through a combination of the isolation and distancing measures enforced through the virus, would-be shoppers had little choice but to fire up retail websites and start shopping online.
While we all hope the worst of the virus is behind us with the global vaccination program now in full swing, most industry analysts suggest these newly adopted purchasing habits won’t simply disappear. Globally, there has been a change in the way people shop and, virus or no virus, adopted habits are notoriously hard to reverse. Indeed, research suggests that the Coronavirus may have accelerated the take-up and growth of e-commerce by as much as four to six years.
E-commerce – retail’s silent revolution
While COVID may well have aided the growth of e-com, the online shopping revolution is hardly new. The last decade has witnessed an almost seismic shift away from traditional brick-and-mortar shopping to e-commerce.
In 2014, it was estimated online shopping accounted for just $1.3 billion globally – by 2024, that figure is predicted to be somewhere closer to $6.4 billion. Certainly, one thing is beyond question – people’s shopping habits are changing and most retail experts suggest those changes are permanent.
The advantages of selling online
From a company’s perspective, there are multiple advantages to moving to the online retail model including, but not limited to:
Reduced overhead: Unlike the old model of a traditional high street store, setting up online avoids the costly overhead of rent, rates and utilities incurred through having a physical shop. Sure, you may still choose to have premises (even this is optional if you go with dropshipping), but that building could be literally anywhere rather than in high rent areas like town centers. From staff to stock, rent to utilities, operating online is vastly cheaper than running a real-world store.
Penetration: If you spend some money on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) you could expand your store’s reach far beyond your local market to reach clients nationally and even internationally. Whether you’re looking to attract B2B website visitors or are more in the B2C sector, geographical boundaries mean nothing when it comes to the web.
A 24/7/365 shop: We live in a round-the-clock culture these days. With an e-com store, you can stay open 24/7/365, reachable from any time zone, anywhere in the world.