- The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated e-commerce growth, with global sales projected to reach $4.13 trillion in 2020 and $6.54 trillion by 2023.
- Businesses must create an omnichannel experience for customers as they move between channels during research and purchase decisions.
- E-commerce is here to stay because of the convenience it offers customers, and the wealth of data businesses can collect and use to improve their offerings.
- Companies must ensure they have an e-commerce platform or risk being left behind.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed how people live and work. Perhaps one of the most significant changes has been the acceleration of e-commerce.
Before the pandemic, e-commerce was already growing at a rapid pace. In 2019, global e-commerce sales reached over $3 trillion, projected to grow to $6.54 trillion by 2023. But the pandemic has changed all that. As a result, global e-commerce sales are expected to reach $4.13 trillion in 2020 and $6.54 trillion by 2023. In other words, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of e-commerce by nearly four years.
How E-commerce Has Changed Businesses
What does this mean for businesses? First and foremost, it means that if you don’t have an e-commerce platform, now is the time to get one. Customers are increasingly comfortable making purchases online and expect businesses to meet them where they are.
Secondly, companies must create a seamless customer experience across all channels—online, mobile, brick-and-mortar, etc.—because customers will move seamlessly between them as they research and make purchase decisions. Finally, it means businesses must be prepared for continued change and agile enough to adapt as the landscape evolves.
The good news is that plenty of resources are available to help businesses transition to e-commerce. The bad news is that those who don’t make the transition will be left behind.
Why E-Commerce is Here to Stay
There are several reasons why e-commerce is here to stay—even after the pandemic ends.
There’s the sheer convenience of it. Customers can shop anytime, anywhere, with just a few clicks of a button (or taps on a screen). They can shop from home, work, or their car—you name it. And they can do it without dealing with crowds, fighting for parking spots, or carrying heavy bags of purchases.
The increased choice and selection that e-commerce offers customers is one reason why e-commerce will stay. In brick-and-mortar stores, businesses are limited by the amount of space they have and the number of SKUs they can carry. Online, companies have virtually unlimited space and can take an infinite number of SKUs—which means customers can find exactly what they’re looking for without settling for second best.
Wealth of Data
Businesses can collect and use the wealth of data to improve their offerings and better meet customer needs. For example, online platforms provide companies with detailed information about who their customers are, what they’re buying, when they’re buying it, how much they’re spending, etc. This data can be used to improve everything from product selection and pricing to marketing campaigns and customer service initiatives.
Better Marketing Options
Marketing is also far more effective online. Companies can target customers on specific platforms and track their campaigns in real-time to identify which messages resonate most with their audience. This is great for SEO companies who rely on this data and tracking. The best SEO marketing companies can tailor specific campaigns because of this data. They can also improve customer acquisition rates, increase sales and revenue, and ensure their message reaches the right people.
Comfortable Making Online Choices
Finally, there’s the fact that customers are increasingly comfortable making online purchases—even big-ticket items like cars and homes (which is why we’re seeing a surge in online car-buying platforms like Carvana and Vroom). In fact, according to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group, 16 percent of respondents said they would buy a car online if given the option (up from just 19 percent in 2015). And while buying a car online might seem like a risky proposition for some people (myself included), it’s worth noting that BCG found that people who had purchased vehicles online were just as satisfied with their purchase as those who had bought cars in person—if not more so.
E-commerce is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have for businesses of all sizes in all industries—and that won’t change anytime soon. If you don’t have an e-commerce platform yet, now is the time to get one; if you do have one, now is the time to focus on making sure your customer experience is seamless across all channels; if you’re not sure what you need to do next or where to start, seek out resources and advice from experts who can help you make the transition successfully. Whatever you do, don’t wait—the future of your business depends on it.