Shops are open, but now is the time to make eCommerce a priority

The closure of the high street has put enormous pressure on eCommerce, especially for those without an online presence. As we see the opening of non-essential shops, it’s important that brands don’t halt eCommerce!

Many retailers have struggled through the Coronavirus pandemic, and although sales volumes increased by 12% in May compared to April, they are still down 13% compared to February. Over 30% of retail businesses with eCommerce reported an increase in online sales.

According to Deloitte, 46% of UK consumers currently feel safe visiting a store. That still leaves a huge 54% who are still likely to priorities spending online rather than visit the high street.

Is this the end of the high street?

There are claims that the crisis has brought forward the demise of the high street by up to there years. With KPMG predicting that one if four stores will likely go by 2025, which they now believe to be by 2021/22. We’re already witnessing this, with Monsoon, Accessorize, Victoria Secrets and Quiz all reporting to close stores this year.

So just when the highstreet needed it least, the Coronavirus crisis happened and we are all locked-down in our homes with our phones & laptops being our primary & safest means of shopping. So just how likely are we to return to the high street? 

The virus has really accelerated eCommerce for the majority of retailers. Brands have had to quickly overhaul their eCommerce and digital experience to encourage customers to continue to spend, where many retailers have had to launch eCommerce for the first time.

Time for brands to ramp up eCommerce

As we covered in a previous blog, Zara owners were already working towards improving their online capabilities but the lockdown has ushered in a new urgency. From my experience, Zara compared to other retailers, has been providing amazingly quick delivery, free next day in many instances. Also super quick turnaround for returns. This is, therefore, encouraging me to spend more with them compared to the likes of H&M. Which although they have improved, were taking 2-3 weeks for delivery.

The increase in the proportion of digital sales for almost all online retailers will present new challenges for brands to understand & new logistical problems to solve.

The newly announced Facebook and Instagram shops will be a big help to those smaller retailers. Those who may not have the resource or budget to completely switch to eCommerce, making it more accessible for them to sell online. It may also encourage people to set up businesses.

Not only is it important for retailers to ramp up their eCommerce, but a focus must also be placed on their whole digital presence. Lockdown has seen an increase in the number of people on social media.

(Average time spent online by a visitor per day, Ofcom)

(Share of average time spent online per day, Ofcom)

This gives a huge opportunity to reach and engage with current and potential customers. Shoppable ads on platforms such as Instagram and Snap provide a seamless buying experience. That being said, there is increased competition on social platforms now. The need to stand out and resonate with your customers is imperative.

Brands have needed to adapt quicker than ever, and they must not stop now.

Written by Natalie Williams

Client Partner Marketing Manager

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