Guest post by Craig Harbour
Coronavirus has impacted just about every part of the UK economy. Restaurants were forced to close, as were shops, gyms and bars. But while the overall picture is bleak, there have been some beneficiaries of the Lockdown.
Those with an existing online platform from which to do business have enjoyed tremendous success. Others have been forced to accelerate their transition to online sales. Stealing most of the headlines has been the snowballing wealth of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, but you might observe similar success on a smaller scale for everyone who sells their products online.
When customers are unable to fill hours of lockdown with food and entertainment, they’ll look to online vendors to fill the gap. B2B sales have not enjoyed quite the same boom as B2C ones, as it’s retail that presents the greatest risk for transmission. Businesses that need to trade with one another are, by and large, trading through the same channels. It’s the end consumer that’s needed to change their behaviour.
But now that Lockdown is lifting, isn’t it likely that customers will revert to their old habits? Probably not. Among the biggest barriers to shopping online is getting over the initial hurdle. Once customers are exposed to the convenience of an online shop, they may not be persuaded to go back. This is particularly so if they’re shopping for everyday staples, books and films.
The pandemic turned parcel delivery into an essential service and ensured the experience was a safe one for those receiving deliveries
Larisha McGurty, Head of Marketing for Parcel2Go, offers her analysis: “As lockdown restrictions look to reduce further in the coming months and customers start to make a return to high street shops, we expect the demand for online purchases to remain high.
“The Covid-19 pandemic turned parcel delivery into an essential service and ensured the experience was a safe one for those receiving deliveries. It also highlighted to the public the array of items that can be delivered to your door with great ease and efficiency.
“In the current climate, customers feel safe shopping online and it is likely that these habits, whether it is buying essentials, treating yourself, or even buying a gift for a relative, will continue for the foreseeable future. Even when the public start to venture back to normality with a trip out to the shops, we expect the positive online shopping experiences during this period to encourage more online purchases than before the Lockdown period.”
This development, if it is sustained for long enough, will have major implications for the way that business in the UK operates. Those who want to thrive online will have to anticipate and adapt to the changing habits of their customers. Ultimately, the biggest beneficiaries are likely to be Big Tech and the shipping industry.