With the reduction of in-person trade during the pandemic, several businesses have had to digitise their operations. Digitisation means to convert something into digital format, with e-commerce being a prominent facet of this transformation. E-commerce, short for electronic commerce, involves buying and selling goods and services over the internet.
Though this type of commerce existed pre-COVID, it boomed between 2019 to 2021, offering a lifeline to businesses during lockdowns, enabling them to reach customers online when physical stores were shuttered. According to the 2020 Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS), e-commerce sales in the United States increased by $244.2 billion or 43% in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, rising from $571.2 billion in 2019 to $815.4 billion in 2020. Forbes indicates that in 2020 alone, global e-commerce sales topped $4.2 trillion. This is evidence that consumers embraced online shopping, changing their buying behaviour as the world changed.
In this week’s Entrepreneur Weekly we explore the extent to which COVID-19 has impacted commerce and consumer behaviour. The surge in online shopping driven by COVID-19 was undeniable, but the question remains: has it endured?
Types of E-commerce
B2B (Business to Business) – It includes a business selling its products and services to another company.
B2C (Business to Consumer) – A business that sells its products directly to consumers.
C2C (Consumer to Consumer) – A platform where consumers can exchange goods and services.
Covid Cure or Consumer Change?
While the intensity of online shopping has varied, the shift towards e-commerce is here to stay. Consumers have experienced the convenience of online shopping and are likely to continue mixing it with in-person shopping. The most important trend in e-commerce today is the increasing number of people engaging in online shopping. More engagement means more potential customers and a more diverse base of customers with unique interests and needs.
Businesses in the grocery, delivery, fast food, streaming services, clothing sector have been major beneficiaries of e-commerce’s growing popularity.
Looking ahead, it’s clear that e-commerce will play an even more significant role in business operations. Businesses should actively participate in e-commerce to remain competitive. Even as consumers venture out, the online presence remains vital. Building a robust online presence can lead to increased brand visibility, customer reach, and revenue streams.
Maybe ten years ago, businesses couldn’t dare to imagine selling their products with little to no physical customer interactions. E-commerce has not only given us a new way to do business, but also a new way to access the market.
E-commerce Trends in 2023
According to Forbes, in 2023, with the ever-changing landscape of e-commerce, it’s vital to stay ahead of the curve and understand the latest trends shaping the industry.
- AI-Generated Noise – There is increasing usage of AI-generated articles and pictures.
- Pricing Pressure – Consumers are able to price-check, but you can differentiate your product.
- 80/20 Customer Segmentation – Discover what is unique about your top 20% and focus on growing and keeping that customer segment.
- Social Commerce – Shopping features now integrated in some social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
- Personalisation – E-commerce retailers are using data analytics and AI to provide customised product recommendations, targeted advertising, and personalised email marketing.
- Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) – An interactive shopping experience is created when customers can virtually try on items.
- Subscription Services – Consumers are relying on subscriptions for convenience, value and personalisation.
- Sustainable and Ethical Shopping – There is a focus on sustainable and ethical sourcing, packaging, manufacturing, and initiatives to reduce carbon footprint.
Forbes says, “we can expect to see continued growth in social commerce, personalisation, AR/VR, subscription services, and sustainable and ethical shopping practices.”
Market Access In-store and Online
The JBDC offers a host of services to take Micro, Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), embodying the tagline “From Concept to Market”. Along with business development services, the agency has a team of highly engaged experts who through a thorough screening process, assess a product’s strengths and weaknesses to guide clients to prepare their products/services for the market.
Valuable feedback and tips are provided by the Marketing Officers after each screening until the product is ready for the shelves. But it doesn’t end there. JBDC provides Market Access for thousands of authentic Jamaican products through the Things Jamaican™ retail store chain and e-commerce website www.thingsjamaicanshopping.com.
Don’t Miss the JBDC Virtual Biz Zone Webinar!
‘How the Right Shipping Strategy Can Grow Your E-commerce Business’ is the topic for the upcoming JBDC Virtual Biz Zone Webinar. Join on September 12, 2023 at 10am on the Zoom platform. Learn from the expert, Haron Spencer, Inventory Officer at the JBDC.
Register now at https://www.jbdc.net/events/.