The question is not whether your business needs an e-shop but when should you stop wondering whether an e-shop is absolutely essential.
The world has recently been upended and yet the clear winners through the COVID-19 restrictions are businesses that already have an (or recently established) an e-shop. In such cases, it has been demonstrated that not only could a business sustain itself (with increased profits in some cases) but it makes a clear statement that there is profit to be made even in the most turbulent of times.
This pandemic has mobilized the world in all sectors and has enabled change that was previously unthought of, in a matter of weeks (this makes me question whether these strategic change plans, really work?). Covid-19 has managed to achieve what managers in many sectors have failed consistently in doing. The so-called Digital Transformation! That’s right, people can now work from home (actually, from anywhere), have online meetings, connect to the company network via VPN and many other simple processes. All of the above wasn’t difficult to implement in the first place, but stubbornness and resistance to change were delaying what once seemed like an insurmountable challenge!
Companies, who were more ready for such a transition, were able to switch to online operations in a matter of days, others in a matter of weeks and some never managed to make the transition and might not make it in general.
The same situation happened with the online presence of companies in the retail and services sectors. Companies, who invested in the digital age and their online presence are able to sell their products and services online, increasing their online business to up to a staggering 800% in the pandemic era. The ones who did not invest in their online presence lost their ability to sell all together. And this is one of the best examples of the survival of the fittest and the law of the jungle. You adjust, embrace, and invest in change, or fall behind and die slowly (or fast).
You might wonder if it’s possible to launch your online store amidst the pandemic. The simple answer is yes and no. Yes, you technically could rush the development of an online store and create some sort of an online shop to serve you this period as there are many fully developed platforms who could serve your business. No, you can’t do this process correctly if you don’t spend the time to collect the requirements, set goals, A/B test for errors, soft launch, and market your online presence. This process usually takes a couple of months to a year, even for a small to mid-size business.
The question you should be answering is not whether you need an online presence or an online shop, the question is why you haven’t already invested in it? How do you fix that now? and how do you maintain your business in the post-pandemic era? Because after this period, consumers will already be more online savvy (they have been forced to become so) and if you’re still stuck with the dilemma, you have already lost the game.
At this point, it seems that we are in the middle of the crisis and probably have another month or so until all businesses start resuming most of their operations. If until this point you haven’t imitated a process of exploring online presence solutions, it is high time you do so. This pandemic has proven that you need to be online because, in extreme situations like the one we are experiencing right now, this will be your only channel to remain in business. After this crisis is over, consumers will most probably return to many of their offline purchasing habits and will still visit your shop. What’s going to change is that consumers will be more actively searching for online purchasing possibilities and if you don’t have an online presence you might be left out of the options list.
It’s also clear that when and if retail outlets do resume business, they cannot consider that things will have returned to normal. Social distancing measures will still be applicable, the ability to throughput a high volume of onsite customers will be almost impossible. In order to avoid such exposure and or difficulties, customers may at least for the foreseeable future turn to there newly found source of retail therapy, the online market!
Additionally, if you already started investing in your business’s online presence, you still might need to consider its priority, available budget, and KPIs to ensure that the online presence does not become a black hole of budget expenditure with little return. If you are currently in this stage, get in touch and I can help you to sort this out.
At the end of the day, the Covid-19 has enforced change in our lives and changed business as we have previously known it; embracing change is the key to a business’s survival.