As COVID hit last year, many businesses that only had brick and mortar operations had to become innovative in order to survive. For many, this meant taking their business, or a part of their business online. During the first six months of the pandemic, U.S. e-commerce sales jumped 40.7%, while in-store revenue fell 2.7%.
I personally noticed a lot of my local businesses shift and sell items online, whether it was a gift certificate for future services, or using a private Facebook group to sell their boutique items through live sales. As stores and restaurants were slowly allowed to reopen, I also noticed that most of the businesses kept their online selling platforms, offering their customers multiple touchpoints for purchasing.
When looking at the data, it seems like many of us may continue with more online ordering than before, including groceries and pharmacy orders. Euromonitor estimates that 17% of goods will be bought online in 2021, almost doubling from 2016. The pandemic accelerated this shift toward e-commerce, as many experimented and became dependent on the convenience of online shopping. I think what was also most surprising was the embrace of online shopping by older demographics. According to NPD Group’s Checkout Tracking, consumers 65 and older spent an average of $1,615 online from January through October 2020, a 49% jump from 2019, making them the fastest-growing group of online shoppers.
So now looking ahead to our “new normal”, what does this mean for the future of e-commerce? Many small businesses adjusted their selling platforms, as well as larger corporations like Target and Wal-Mart that worked to offer more curbside and delivery options for their customers. It seems like this type of shopping may actually be part of our “new normal,” and consumers are happy to take advantage of the convenience of it all.
How has the pandemic changed your shopping behavior? Did you notice a lot of small businesses around you start selling on Shopify, Etsy, etc.? How do you think our shopping habits will evolve in 2021 and beyond?