The COVID-19 pandemic has had and continues to have devastating effects on people all around the world. Our daily lives have changed and every day there is a deluge of bad news to be read or heard. However, there have been some areas of positivity; long-deserved gratitude for the NHS, an appreciation of a slower pace of life and the exponential rise of e-commerce for us to find new hobbies, new loungewear pieces and everything else that Jeff Bezos and co. deem to be necessities for our new lifestyles.  


Digital Transformation

As a whole, economic activity slowed due to COVID-19 but one area where there was a rise in activity was in e-Commerce and this surge has accelerated a digital transformation. 2020 saw e-Commerce account for more than a third of all retail sales. This is being called a digital transformation because although e-Commerce was growing pre-Covid 19, as a result of lockdown and shop closures, people have transformed their buying habits and few experts believe that we will go back to our old ways. The pandemic has made seismic changes that have altered our lives forever, including how we purchase goods and services. eMarketer predicts that this change in buying behaviour will continue and believes that by 2023, the numbers will be well in excess of anything pre-pandemic, at £143.51 billion.


e-Commerce Growth

Businesses that offered e-Commerce prior to 2020 continued to do so, improving their offering to remain competitive in the increasingly competitive online market. Other types of businesses that never previously sold online and industries that didn’t “need” to, began to use online tools to find solutions to continue some of the economic and social activities while people were stuck at home or their bricks and mortar businesses were forced to close. When the pandemic started to take hold, we all feared the worst for the economy and retail in particular. However, many businesses have managed to not only survive but thrive and mitigate the economic downturn by finding new distribution and marketing channels. People became more familiar with technology, whether it was joining Zoom calls or downloading apps, in fact in the UK during 2020 there were 45.4 million digital buyers, 81.1% of the population.


Examples of digital transformation

There are many industries that have digitally adapted in order to survive and one of the best examples often discussed is the restaurant industry. Restaurants, along with many other businesses were forced to close their doors for parts of 2020 and 2021 and while many have, unfortunately, not survived the pandemic, a number of smaller and larger restaurants have digitally transformed themselves. For example, Azzurri Group’s Coco di Mama expanded their business through delivery-only kitchens and huge chain restaurants such as Pret, Nando’s, Pizza Express and Wagamama all increased their delivery and takeaway options, either independently or through third-party food ordering apps such as Uber Eats and Just Eat. But the pandemic also saw local pubs and restaurants, often without the huge corporation behind them, taking note and offering something similar. This meant people could order a nice dinner for a special occasion or a Sunday roast from their local pub to enjoy in their home.


The future of e-Commerce

As mentioned, the e-Commerce experts at Sierra Six Media believe that this adaptation and transformation from businesses to expand their digital offering will have a long-lasting effect on our economy. Consumers are willing to pay for convenience and whether we continue to work from home or the commute rears its ugly head again, the ease of ordering something from Amazon rather than trekking to the shops or ordering dinner from a wider range of restaurants, is too convenient for busy people to turn down. The ONS reports that the proportion of online retail sales increased to 27.9% in July 2021 from 27.1% in June and remains significantly higher than in February 2020 (19.8%). Sierra Six has e-Commerce experts that can help you perform a digital transformation of your own with SEO or PPC. If you have not changed yet but are seeing competitors thriving, or what to be an innovator in your market, our e-Commerce team can make that happen for you and with you. Contact our e-Commerce experts for more information and to start your digital transformation today. 


Rachel Downes, Publisher, Sierra Six Media.