Why You Should Move Your Business online: Lessons from the pandemic
Transferring business to the Internet has become a necessity, and the development and promotion of an online store over the past year has turned into a mega-popular service.
The coronavirus has immobilized many companies and halted sales in some industries and offline stores. This situation created risks and called into question the continued existence of some companies. But it was also a development opportunity for other companies that have started capturing the highest profits during the pandemic. 2020 was certainly a watershed moment in the digital transformation that has made many entrepreneurs think about not giving up online sales and reaching customers through this channel. So, why do you need to move your business online?
The coronavirus pandemic has become a test for many Russian entrepreneurs, when they had to take decisive measures: cut jobs, suspend activities, develop new plans. After the first shock caused by the lockdown, many companies decided to change course to keep the business going.
Complete isolation paralyzed traditional sectors of the economy, but gave a chance to the development of the Internet. Consumers, afraid to leave the house, began to shop online. According to reports by European analysts, up to 70% of Internet users in the first period of quarantine regularly made online purchases.
At that time, hygiene products, food and zoological products were best sold. Companies that already had their own online stores and offered these products recorded (and still record) an increase in interest and sales. These results mean that more and more companies will gain an advantage after moving the business online and launching a new online store.
The COVID-19 pandemic has paralyzed the entire planet. Some companies are on the verge of bankruptcy, while others are hiring new employees and recording the biggest growth in recent years. In this regard, the coronavirus has become both a threat and an opportunity that is used primarily by online stores, online services, the ICT sector as a whole and postal service enterprises.
Not all companies and services can move a business online, but some really need to think about it. It is naïve to believe that the vaccination that began in 2021 will forever protect business and that our lives will remain the same as before.
The pandemic has shown that businesses need to look for new solutions. You can work effectively online, conduct classes, courses, webinars and meetings. This situation clearly demonstrated which industries are immune to the virus. In particular, for online stores that before the pandemic worked on strengthening their brand on the network and positioning, the business continues to develop and conquer new heights.
Many companies see an opportunity to keep the business going online. According to a report prepared by the Shoper platform, there were 50% more such openings in March 2020 compared to the data for March 2019.
The e-commerce industry is constantly evolving, stores and services are expanding their activities through online sales. In addition, every year more and more customers make purchases online. The increase in interest is caused by constant technological development, increased competition, globalization of the market, new needs of users.
Internet users choose this method of making purchases for a number of reasons:
- Convenient: they can make a purchase at any time, the whole process goes smoothly and does not require many hours of walking through crowded stores.
- Fast: just a few clicks are enough to order the product or service of interest. It should be remembered that more and more Internet users use mobile devices (now more than 60%), on which they search for information, make transactions and purchases.
- Secure: An SSL certificate, a well-known brand, clear terms of purchase and convenience, as well as the ease of returning a bad thing and defective equipment are the reasons why consumers prefer to buy online.
- Profitable: purchases in online stores are 30-50% cheaper than in stationary points. The consumer can also check prices and find the best deal.
- Available: The purchase process can be completed at any time. The user often succumbs to impulses and may reconsider the decision to place an order.
Online trading is beneficial not only for consumers, but also for companies looking to move their business online. First, the cost of maintaining a store is lower. An initial contribution must be made when creating websites and positioning them, but this investment pays off quickly. The Internet business does not require expensive rental of premises, in many cases you can also abandon the warehouse, thanks to which you can offer customers more attractive prices.
What is especially important, the owners of online stores and online services are much better in contact with the buyer. Through numerous digital channels, they can respond to customer inquiries, offer promotions and discounts (newsletter), or maintain constant contact on social media.
The situation with the coronavirus has shown that it is necessary to adapt to new conditions, as this is required by the inevitable digitalization and the growing needs of consumers.
Companies that have been working on the Internet for a long time took advantage of this situation, took care of brand development and reliability, ensured fast home delivery and increased their visibility in search by implementing SEO promotion.
Reports from leading international online agencies point to the continuous development of e-commerce in recent years. And the current situation caused by the pandemic tells us that online business is no longer a choice, but a necessity.
Today has become much more virtual: work, meetings, purchases. Everything indicates that after quarantine, the importance of e-commerce will only increase. That's why it's so important to be prepared for and adapt to such inevitable changes now by creating an online store, strengthening an online sales channel, or transforming a business focused on online activities.
During the first lockdown of 2020, industries selling food (previously such purchases were made offline), online pharmacies, pet stores, home appliance stores, children's goods and multimedia stores showed better results in retail.
On the other hand, the largest number of new online stores have been developed for entrepreneurs selling books, multimedia, food, cleaning products and cosmetics, home and garden accessories, and gifts.
Interestingly, the Shoper platform's report highlights that April 2020 for online sales volumes was much better than the gain during Black Friday.
According to this study, in April 2020, 137% more stores were opened on the Shoper platform compared to the previous year. The number of transactions only for food stores at this time increased by 374%!
On the contrary, the PrestaShop report also shows the growth of online commerce in the healthcare and sports sectors. Vitamins, food supplements, herbs and environmental products, as well as accessories and sportswear, showed phenomenal sales growth compared to 2019.
Other areas of business that are thriving online during quarantine are:
- Goods for the garden and vegetable garden.
- Office and stationery.
- Building materials or services.
- Gastronomy and food with home delivery.
- IT industry (remote work software, web design).
- Services on order at home (pet products, pickup).
Many industries are trying to take advantage of the situation and adapt the business to the new conditions that have fallen on their heads. It is extremely important to meet the needs of the modern consumer, who wants to buy, study and use high-quality services without leaving home.
According to a study by Statcounter, today in the world Google is used by 97% of Internet users. A huge percentage of network users search Google for services and stores. Today, the creation of online stores is very important, but it is equally important to have an informational website.
The situation during the pandemic clearly shows that marketing and visibility on the Internet do not tolerate savings. It turned out that in 2020, many companies do not have a profile on social networks, Google My Business, not to mention a full-fledged website.
Users search for information about a store, workshop or construction company in their area using a search engine to find out what hours they are working during the pandemic, what services they provide, etc. In many cases, companies that have not implemented the simplest communication channels over the Internet have lost their potential customers and fallen victim to the struggle for traffic.
Social media and the virtual storefront are a key element of internet marketing and local positioning. Google My Business and the website allow the consumer to quickly contact the company and even check the reliability. It also makes it easier to find a specific service, even if the company is offline (this is especially true for the auto business, construction, renovation, gardening, and the like).
Having a website and carrying out online marketing activities is essential if you want to attract new customers, retain existing ones, and keep in touch with them. Therefore, creating a website for your business should be a top priority, especially in this time of digitalization.
Unfortunately, the rash move of some entrepreneurs in the first phase of the pandemic was to abandon activities in the field of Internet marketing – positioning, content creation, website design with SEO in mind, etc.
The search for cost savings should not occur at the expense of online promotion, because it is on the Internet that potential customers are looking for your business. It's important to keep making changes to revitalize your online business, rather than stopping doing so.
The reasons to move a business online in 2021 are obvious:
- The popularity of online shopping and services. The current situation has forced consumers to switch from stationary stores to online stores. This trend arose a long time ago, although in quarantine this process has accelerated significantly. Those who were not fully convinced of this form of purchase realized that it was safe, fast and convenient. Even as the world returns to normal and stationary stores reopen, many consumers will not give up online shopping or services. Therefore, those who do not yet have a website or online store should implement online tools as quickly as possible.
- New customers. Moving your business online should be seen as an opportunity to attract more potential customers. It may turn out that the Internet traffic will be more than a queue in the trading floor.
- Brand strengthening. A store or service is easier to find when it's online. In addition, reliable work on the brand strengthens the position of the business and makes it recognizable. It is easier for small stores and service providers to stand out online thanks to competent SEO optimization of the site.
- Growing competition. The pandemic situation has stopped many companies and given others the driving force to act faster and more actively. Competition is active, and it is also looking for new ways to reach out to the customer. You can't give up internet marketing activities such as online shopping, promotion, and search engine optimization because competitors will see a new opportunity to grow in that activity.
- Omnichannel. An online store or the ability to order online services is a great way to strengthen and support an offline business, which will contribute to increasing sales and interest of new customers. Omnichannel connects these sales channels and binds them together, giving consumers the opportunity to shop with even greater comfort.
Separately, it is worth noting the importance of search visibility in Google, since organic search results are the most common and cheapest source of traffic. Investing in SEO promotion of online stores and websites will bring tangible results in the form of increased sales.
Stopping SEO activities in search of savings would be the wrong decision. Positioning is an investment that pays off. Lack of optimization will result in losses, and a lost position will be harder to recover. Abandoning professional positioning will only be a temporary savings, because in the end the losses will be much greater: reduced traffic, overtaking competitors, missed opportunity, loss of funds that have so far been invested in positioning.
Expanding your business with an online store or creating a website is the next step in developing a company that will allow you to attract new customers. However, many entrepreneurs do not want to take such a risk. Why?
Obstacles to moving a business online usually lie within the companies themselves:
- Stepping out of your comfort zone. Investing in an online business is associated with a certain fear and uncertainty. Entrepreneurs do not want to leave a field they are familiar with (even if the Internet business will bring them potentially higher profits). They often pretend that today is not the right time to open an online store. Such a decision generates losses, because you need to remember that competition may already be one step ahead.
- Cost. Entrepreneurs do not want to invest in an online store, because its opening is associated with a high price at the stage of website development. How much does an online store cost? It depends on the size of the business and the needs of the customers. Small businesses can successfully work on small platforms, and investments in the store and SEO promotion will quickly pay off.
- Lack of time. An online store takes time: product implementation, descriptions, blog articles and all the logistics. However, setting it up and running is essential if you want to expand your business.
- "I don't need an online store." There are entrepreneurs who think they really don't need an online business. The old format for the time being brings a satisfactory profit, so the transfer of business seems like a luxury. This dangerous misconception has been debunked by the coronavirus pandemic.
The example of big brands shows that developing online stores and building online businesses is a necessity today, in an era of uncertainty and rapidly changing shopping habits.
How much does an online store cost, how to set it up and what to implement so that it is profitable - all this information you will receive from us. We will help you bring your business online, create an attractive UX-compatible store, and also work on the positioning of your website. [Contact us(/contact)] and start tomorrow!