January 11, 2021 by Ben Chafetz

How eCommerce Helped Businesses Through COVID-19 & Why You NEED An eCommerce Strategy

At this time last year, we had no idea that a global pandemic was about to rage throughout the entire world – and hit America especially hard. 

As the New Year Starts, the US is still reeling from the effects of COVID-19, and though mass vaccination is just over the horizon, lots of damage has been done to small businesses in America.

In July 2020, more than 40% of businesses reported being temporarily closed at some point due to COVID-19. And while aid programs through the CARES act have been very helpful for business owners, they’re not always enough to keep businesses afloat.

But during this difficult time, there’s one segment of retail that didn’t just hang on for dear life – but thrived. eCommerce rose to help lots of businesses, particularly those that had previously avoided a strong online presence.

In this blog from 121eCommerce, we’ll look at how COVID-19 affected eCommerce in 2020, and why this pandemic has proven – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that now is the best time to invest in your eCommerce strategy. Let’s get started.

Understanding The Effects Of COVID-19 On eCommerce – What Changed In 2020?

To begin, let’s take a look at how COVID-19 affected eCommerce. While more data will certainly become available as 2021 continues and a full data set of 2020 eCommerce sales is compiled, the initial numbers are quite striking. 

  • 52.7% of U.S. adults avoided brick-and-mortar stores in February 2020 due to COVID-19 (Statista)
  • 52% of U.S. adults shopped online more frequently in May 2020 (Statista)
  • Grocery eCommerce surged by 300% in the early months of the pandemic (Supermarket News), and $7.2 billion was spent on grocery pickup in June 2020 (DigitalCommerce360)
  • Department store sales are expected to sink by 60% due to the COVID-19 pandemic (IBM via Yahoo)
  • Overall eCommerce sales grew by 13% in Q1 and 26% in Q2, and are expected to grow a further 20% more in the remainder of 2020 (IBM via Yahoo)
  • Amazon’s sales grew 40% in Q2 2020 alone (Business Insider), and 37% compared to 2019 in Q3 2020 (Amazon). 
  • 56% of people have shopped with a new eCommerce retailer for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic (Narvar
  • Global digital sales rose 45% from Black Friday through the end of the holiday season, and the week before Thanksgiving saw an 80% overall growth in sales (Salesforce)

Okay. That’s a lot of numbers and statistics. But what do they mean? Well, it’s simple.

Retail businesses that offered some kind of eCommerce option – whether it’s digital sales, online ordering, or ordering online and allowing customers to pick up their products in-store – have experienced lots of growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And businesses that don’t offer eCommerce options have had a much harder time. Sales are slackening more than ever for brick-and-mortar retailers, and the recent push to eCommerce caused by COVID-19 may never completely be reversed. It’s entirely possible that brick-and-mortar sales will never rebound to previous levels.

Now Is The Time To Capitalize On The Growth Of eCommerce – Don’t Get Left Behind

At 121eCommerce, we know that many small businesses are being cautious in the era of COVID-19, and some entrepreneurs may be delaying a shift to eCommerce. But that’s the wrong lesson to take from the pandemic.

COVID-19 just made consumer preferences even more clear. Shopping online is fast, easy, and getting better every day – and we think that even when things get back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic, this change is here to stay.

COVID-19 has not gone anywhere, either. As of publication time, new COVID-19 cases were not hitting record highs, and multiple vaccines have been deployed to millions of Americans by Moderna and Pfizer, but even the most positive studies done about vaccination do not predict full immunity until at least Q3/Q4 2021 – at the earliest! 

In the meantime, businesses that are not online are risking getting left behind – especially as the rise in eCommerce popularity drives their competitors to launch online eCommerce stores. 

What we’re saying is this. The best time to launch an eCommerce store was in March of 2020. The second-best time is today. The world of retail has changed in a big way – and the ramifications of COVID-19 may not even be entirely clear for several more years.

But what is clear is that running a business that exclusively sells products in person is increasingly less viable. To compensate for lost sales, find new markets, and continue to thrive in this difficult time, eCommerce is an excellent investment.

Ready To Get Started? Contact 121eCommerce Today For More Information

With a modern eCommerce website, you can make up for lost sales, reach more customers in different places, gather useful information about your audience, and build a stronger business. Your investment in a new eCommerce platform will pay off for years to come – especially if you get started now. 

Best of all, eCommerce doesn’t have to work against your brick-and-mortar presence. With tools like Magento Commerce, it’s easier than ever to create a truly omnichannel business, and take advantage of the benefits offered both by physical, in-person sales and eCommerce. 

If you want more information or would like to learn more about the benefits of eCommerce and why now is the best time to start your store, 121eCommerce is here to help.

As experts in Magento, we’ve helped dozens of small businesses launch modern, intuitive storefronts that drive more conversions and sales. Contact us now for a consultation, and see how your business can benefit by investing in eCommerce – even during these challenging times.

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