With much of the world in lockdown for at least part of 2020, you’d be forgiving for thinking retailers would have had their worst financial year to date. Surprisingly, however, many retailers are making massive gains, despite COVID-19 restrictions affecting their operations.
As consumers switch to online shopping in massive numbers, a significant number of retailers have achieved record-breaking sales figures and turnover. Of course, it isn’t only direct retailers who have seen a rise in online shopping. Online marketplaces have also benefited from the change in consumer behaviour, with many recording higher sales than average.
Online Shopping Boom Still to Come
While online shopping has been a staple way for consumers to buy both essentials and luxuries this year, the best is still to come for retailers. The combination of lockdown and Black Friday means UK retailers are expecting to see unparalleled online sales this month.
November is also a busy time for online retailers. Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday routinely see millions of pounds spent online in the UK alone and the upcoming holidays mean shoppers are on the lookout for early Christmas bargains.
In 2020, however, it’s easy to see why online shopping is set to be more popular than ever. Various lockdown restrictions across the UK mean that some companies are unable to open their retail stores at all, which means shoppers have no choice but to go online.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 risk factor means that many people are reluctant to hit the high street, even when shops are permitted to re-open. As a result, an increasing number of people are relying on online shopping for every need, from groceries and household items to clothes, games consoles, and entertainment.
Of course, it isn’t only in the UK that we’re seeing record-breaking figures when it comes to online shopping. In the U.S., retail giant Walmart is already reporting a staggering 79% rise in e-commerce. Indeed, the rise in online shopping is leading many consumers to brace for delivery delays, as businesses struggle to cope with unprecedented demand.
Fortunately, retailers have been quick to up their game in order to cope with the rise of online shoppers. With services like Hosting.co.uk, many businesses are speeding up their websites and increasing functionality so that they’re ready for the influx of users set to log on throughout this month. From Black Friday deals to early Christmas shopping, it’s vital that retailers are ready to cope with the extra online traffic if they want to make the most of this latest trend in consumer behavior.
Are We Shopping More?
There’s no doubt that people are shopping more online in 2020, but are we actually buying more? If consumers are simply changing their habits, and shopping more online rather than in-store, what does this mean for retailers?
Firstly, a shift towards online shopping could be good news for retailers and their financial outlooks but bad news for town centers and high streets. When businesses can increase online sales, they needn’t spend money on maintaining retail stores.
If consumers continue to do the bulk of their shopping online, it’s likely that many more retailers will decide to close their physical stores in order to tighten their belts amid COVID-19.
However, the recent upsurge in online shopping may be more than people switching from physical purchases to virtual buying. With millions of people spending months in lockdown during 2020, we’ve been looking for different forms of entertainment.
Rapid growth has occurred across a variety of sectors, including fitness, beauty, and homewares. With people unable to go to the gym, visit the spa or get their nails done, it’s no surprise that we’re turning to at-home alternatives.
What’s more – spending more time at home means we’re improving, redesigning, and upgrading our living spaces. Whether people are keeping themselves occupied with DIY projects or they simply want to enhance their homes while they’re spending so much time indoors, demand for online furniture and décor continues to grow.
In addition to this, millions of workers have transitioned from the office to remote working, which means their homes are now doubling up as their workspace. For people without home offices, this has meant buying desks, chairs, devices, and related products, which may account for some increased sales in these areas.
How Safe is Online Shopping?
While online shopping has provided a lifeline for consumers in 2020 and enabled many businesses to continue operating, it’s also given a new lease of life to online scammers and hackers. Sadly, the rise in online shopping is also expected to fuel new scams and frauds.
Although many of these online scams are sophisticated and easy to fall for, retailers are doing everything they can to keep their customers safe. By using secure servers, reliable hosting provides, and encrypted payment facilities, many businesses are going the extra mile to prevent their customers from falling foul of online scams this shopping season.
Indeed, if retailers want to make the most of the upsurge in online shopping, they need to ensure they have effective cybersecurity measures in place. While more people have shopped online in 2020, a considerable number of these users are new to virtual purchasing. Understandably, any doubt regarding the authenticity or trustworthiness of a website will have them looking elsewhere.
Will the Trend Continue into 2021?
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday shopping are expected to boost sales for online retailers in November 2020, but the rise in online shopping won’t stop there. Now that more people have embraced the idea of buying goods online and an increasing number of retailers have implemented e-commerce options, we can expect this renewed interest in online shopping to continue well into 2021.
Providing retailers can offer a seamless purchase experience and meet customer demand, the shift towards online shopping we’ve seen throughout 2020 could be indicative of future consumer behavior. Now that the safety and convenience of online shopping have become part of our ‘new normal’ and retailers are seeing the financial benefits associated with e-commerce, there’s no doubt that online shopping will become even more ubiquitous in the future.