COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted businesses in a multitude of ways. Whilst many companies have taken a battering during the pandemic, some have seen a considerable surge in demand, particularly e-commerce businesses.
The sudden shift in consumer shopping habits is primarily down to the ongoing effects of COVID-19. High street businesses had no choice but to lock their doors, with the public confined to their homes as COVID-19 continued to spread on a global scale. With little to no alternative retail options, e-commerce businesses have become a lifeline for consumers, with sales continuing to soar.
Though online spending is undoubtedly a boost for the economy, there are undeniably many challenges which online businesses are facing right now. Here we outline the most significant ways in which COVID-19 has impacted e-commerce.
Changes in consumer behaviour
A few months ago, consumers had no choice but to turn to e-commerce businesses as a result of lockdown. As the high street began to re-open its doors, online figures took a slight dip, but e-commerce spending continued to persevere. As a result, the pandemic has seen distinctive swings in the attitudes of consumers.
As COVID-19 still very much continues to take its toll, many consumers remain concerned with health and safety and the convenience of making purchases from home. Ordering online does not carry the same potential health risks as being in a physical shop scattered with other customers, making online shopping a more favourable option. E-commerce businesses have the ability to provide consumers with a solitary shopping experience whilst offering peace of mind amid COVID-19.
As more consumers continue to rely on online shopping, the pressure to consistently provide timely and accurate deliveries also increases. We live in a fast-paced culture where consumers expect to receive their items within a matter of days, if not immediately. E-commerce businesses must ensure that they are providing timely service to meet the high expectations of today’s customers. Given the array of added concerns that e-commerce businesses must now consider during the pandemic, the ability to uphold these standards can be challenging.
The shift in operational management
With strict government guidelines in force, e-commerce businesses have now found themselves occupied with maintaining strict operational standards. Many online business owners have had to reorganise their warehouses and workspaces to be in keeping with social distancing guidelines.
The importance of maintaining these standards, coupled with increased consumer volume, has meant less time for owners to focus on other critical aspects of their business. The challenge for e-commerce businesses here is the ability to maximise resources, whilst also ensuring that no one area of the company becomes neglected.
Strain on logistics
Increased consumer demand, along with strict operational standards, has undoubtedly placed a strain on logistics for e-commerce businesses. With many orders to fulfil, the pressure to quickly and accurately deliver goods to consumers whilst maintaining standards can be a challenge. As a result, e-commerce businesses with in house order fulfilment may find themselves excessively consumed by this aspect of the company.
Timely and accurate order fulfilment has now become a significant feature of today’s customer experience, with the expectation that deliveries should arrive as soon as possible.
E-commerce COVID-19 challenges summary
Whilst a surge in e-commerce business amid COVID-19 is no mean feat, it certainly does not come without its fair share of hurdles. The key areas in which e-commerce business have struggled is regarding:
- Evolving attitudes and expectations of customers concerning health and safety concerns and fast delivery times
- Need for businesses to adapt and be compliant with government health and safety guidelines
- The requirement for maximum efficiency when it comes to order fulfilment
The most successful e-commerce businesses are those that have adapted in line with the changes that COVID-19 has created, as well as providing a first-class customer experience. With no sign of an imminent vaccine, it seems as though the demand for e-commerce businesses will continue for the foreseeable future.
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