“60% of business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“800 small businesses closing each day due to Covid-19.”
“Coronavirus claims more than 100,000 small businesses.”
Such were the headlines when the coronavirus pandemic hit the world last year. It not only took more lives than World War I, II, Vietnam, and 9/11 combined but also became the biggest threat for businesses worldwide.
Yes, no one could indeed have predicted the advent of this virus. Let alone prepared for the impact it had on small businesses. But one must not forget that the Covid-19 pandemic is a wake-up call. It is a reminder that catastrophes like this have happened in the past. And they will continue to happen in the future. (The harsh reality.)
It is our responsibility to make our businesses immune to such challenges. And the only way to do that is to get your business vaccinated i.e. shift your business online. Now!
Before diving into the merits of digital transformation, let’s understand what it is. Digital transformation refers to the continual integration of technology into your business to replace manual or outdated processes with newer digital ones. But the question remains – How is digital transformation a vaccine for your business? Well, the adoption of digitalization is critical to help your organization proactively navigate through any unprecedented challenges. It induces dynamism in your business processes and beefs up its operational efficiency. Thus making it more resilient.
You must have noticed how the Covid-19 pandemic put a major strain on traditional retail. Brick and mortar businesses were already beleaguered by the eCommerce giants such as Amazon even before the pandemic. But now, they were left to fend for their survival. In response to the virus outbreak, there was a dramatic shift from in-person to online shopping. Consumers who were historically not too accepting of eCommerce also came around because of the ease of buying merchandise from the web. Consequently, making businesses with an online presence, such as Drizly, emerge as the clear winners.
Drizly, an alcohol delivery marketplace, works with more than 2,200 retailers across the U.S. It delivers beer, wine, and other alcohol to consumers via in-person drop-offs. The Company experienced an explosion in sales of up to 537% during just the last week of March 2020. The company also experienced a 900% year-over-year jump in new buyers on the platform. The CEO of Drizly attributes this boost in sales to the rising consumer interest in eCommerce. And it is not just Drizly that is reporting a massive increase in business. The pandemic also gave rise to online fitness, grocery, meal prep, and a multitude of other eCommerce marketplaces. So much so that the global eCommerce market size reached 4 trillion in 2020 (according to Business Insider). But will this Covid-fueled acceleration of eCommerce outlast the pandemic?
It is not the Covid-19 pandemic alone that changed consumer behavior. The process of change started way before 2020. In 2003, during the SARS epidemic, people and businesses started realizing the importance of eCommerce. Over the years the concept of selling and buying things online has evolved. Both brick and mortar business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs have now realized the far-reaching potential of eCommerce marketplaces.
Also, while in some countries people are getting vaccinated en masse. In other countries like France, Poland, Kenya, the Philippines, and India, governments have reimposed lockdowns to curb the spread of new strains of the virus. So to make sure that your business doesn’t get hit by the Covid-19 slump again, you need to revolutionize the way you interact with your clients by incorporating digital transformation into your business processes.
If you are still not convinced that eCommerce is the way to go, here are 5 main reasons why going online is the right decision for your business.
1. Reduce Costs
One of the notable benefits of eCommerce is that it significantly reduces transaction costs. When calculating transaction costs for a traditional retail store, you have to factor in a lot of expenses. From the salesperson’s salary to lease on the storefront, each transaction pays for all these expenses. Whereas the overall maintenance cost of a virtual store is far less.
2. Expand the reach of your business
eCommerce can help your brand go global. According to Datareportal, there are 4.66 billion internet users in the world today and 2.14 billion digital buyers as of this year. With such internet penetration, your brand has a lot of opportunities to sell beyond the borders of your usual consumer base.
3. Provide a personalized shopping experience
Providing a personalized shopping experience is the holy grail of retail business longevity. eCommerce enables you to track on-site and off-site customer data points with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning. So that you can provide a personalized shopping experience to your customers. Features like cross-selling, up-selling, personalized offers and product recommendations can significantly help drive up conversions.
Graphic Credits: Bloomreach
Gone are the days when scaling a business was an uphill battle. With eCommerce, retailers can scale their business efficiently. Whether it’s expanding your product range or customer base, unlike brick and mortar, eCommerce offers easy scalability. The scalability of traditional retail businesses is constricted due to several factors such as space and infrastructure.
5. More Convenient
According to a Smart Insights report, 97% of consumers abandon a purchase because they don’t find the experience convenient enough. But convenience is the backbone of eCommerce and a major reason why online shopping has boomed over the years. Especially since last year, eCommerce marketplaces are expanding their horizons to provide more features to the customers.
The success of an eCommerce store is not limited to the products it offers or the marketing behind them. To provide customers with an unbeatable shopping experience, an eCommerce store should have all the essential features and functionalities. Considering the current market trends and consumer pain points, below-mentioned are some features that an eCommerce store must have.
1. Enhanced shipping options
Amazon and UPS are testing drone deliveries at several locations in the US. Drones are unmanned aircraft systems used for last-mile deliveries. The day is not far when other eCommerce companies will also employ drones as a shipping option.
2. Mobile commerce
Did you know that almost 92.6% of internet users use mobile devices to go online? This has given rise to mCommerce, an advancement of eCommerce. mCommerce or mobile commerce enables people to buy or sell goods online by using a mobile phone. Thereby, making your website mobile-optimized has become very important.
3. Variety of flexible payment options
Online payment options have evolved. Now you can integrate several payment gateways with your eCommerce site. This will offer more payment flexibility to the customers and reduce cart abandonment rates. Some eCommerce stores nowadays also accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.
4. The rise of ROPO
ROPO stands for Research Online Pay Offline. It is a result of years of consumer research and is an excellent feature for customers who find it hard to trust online shopping. Even customers looking to bargain find this feature helpful.
5. The emerging BOPIS trend
Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS) is an emerging eCommerce trend in 2021. BOPIS is more than an alternative shipping option. It is a great way to increase retail traffic and reduce last-mile delivery costs. While also enabling customers to check the quality of products before taking them home.
6. Order management
There is no doubt in the fact that eCommerce has made shopping swift and convenient. But there is a lot that an eCommerce store owner needs to manage in the backend to ensure safe and timely delivery of orders. This makes it important for an online marketplace to have a dedicated order management panel that will enable merchants to view order details, manage cancellation, return requests, inventory and take care of other logistics.
7. Abandoned cart recovery
Inferred from a report by Geckoboard, every 6 out of 10 customers abandon their carts. There can be multiple reasons behind this cart abandonment rate like unexpected shipping costs, privacy concerns, no promo codes and a tedious check-out process. The best way to recover all this lost revenue is to employ the feature of abandoned cart recovery. With the help of this feature, eCommerce retailers can reach out to the customers who abandoned their carts and convince them to complete their purchase.
Shifting your business online can go two ways. It can either be a triumph or a disaster riddled with customer complaints and operational inefficiencies. The most crucial step that you can’t afford to miss while pivoting your business from brick and mortar to online is finding the right technology partner or solution. Going forward with the right eCommerce solution strengthens your scope in this highly saturated market and gives you an edge over your competitors.
While there are many options to choose from, Yo!Kart checks the list for all the required parameters. With Yo!Kart, you can launch a successful eCommerce marketplace and upscale it easily in the long run. Even during the pandemic, the Yo!Kart team worked round the clock to help more than 200 business owners launch their ventures. We also released Yo!Kart V9.3, an enhanced version with all the necessary features, enabling businesses of any size to offer fast and efficient services to their customers.
To further help small and medium businesses in these trying times, our team has developed Yo!Kart’s single store version “Tribe”. Tribe is a self-hosted eCommerce platform. Built on Laravel technology, it enables businesses to launch their eCommerce stores at zero cost. Yes, you heard it right! There are no hidden costs, zero transaction fees and you can sell unlimited products. Also, Tribe has a drag and drop feature that lets you design your website the way you want. No prior coding knowledge required. That is how easy it is to begin your digital transformation with Tribe.
Tribe is the brainchild of the Yo!Kart team. It is a dynamic eCommerce platform that enables you to break loose from the shackles of rigid technology solutions, lengthy development processes, and hefty costs. Tribe being a feature-rich solution comes pre-integrated with more than a dozen APIs and is built using agile development practices. It helps you kick start your online store in the easiest and the most cost-efficient manner.
Whether you are a brick and mortar store owner or someone who is looking to launch their entrepreneurial journey, the world of digital commerce awaits you with a profusion of opportunities. Yes, digital transformation can be overwhelming. But with the right technology solution such as Tribe, nothing can stop you from launching a successful business online.