We are facing unprecedented events on a worldwide scale due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While viruses have certainly been widespread before, never has the post-digital world faced such a widespread issue. With that being said, a lot of countries like the United States, less familiar with disease playing such a prominent role in everyday life, are having to make serious adjustments. As there is currently no vaccine or cure for COVID-19, the most effective way to fight the virus is to practice social distancing. However, this not only means that people are meant to stay indoors as much as possible; it also means that in a lot of states, all non-essential businesses are closed. Furthermore, even if you do have easy access to essential businesses or live in a state that has yet to give stay at home orders, you may understandably be hesitant to leave your home unless it is absolutely necessary. Not only is COVID-19 highly contagious, causing a wide variety of reactions ranging from asymptomatic responses to severe medical events, it has also triggered a good deal of confusion and panic in the populace, which has led some to be concerned about an uptick in crime.
Those with severe health problems, or even mild immune system issues, must be particularly careful about social distancing. COVID1-9 is particularly dangerous to those with preexisting health conditions. It’s important to remember that not only is the virus making people severely ill; it’s also causing a large number of people to require hospitalization at an alarming rate. Doctors and medical resources, in general, are overwhelmed, and therefore unable to give the medical attention necessary not only to those suffering from COVID-19, but anyone currently hospitalized. Ideally, those most susceptible to catching the virus and requiring hospitalization should not even leave the house to go grocery shopping. In fact, about 75% of Internet users report planning to avoid shopping in person throughout the pandemic. This is why, though many businesses are suffering during the pandemic, with half of all retailers expecting some kind of economic downturn due to the pandemic, e-commerce has recently risen to the forefront. Those that are less familiar with e-commerce may find shopping online for less obvious items somewhat intimidating at first. However, e-commerce has an important role to play during this crisis. It may not only help people stay indoors and healthy, but will hopefully stimulate our flagging economy in turn.
Can I Really Buy Everything Online?
Thanks to the prevalence of e-commerce in today’s economy, you really can, theoretically, order everything online and have it delivered home. Traditionally, delivery has been associated with personal items and some restaurant meals. But from the basement family room, you can order your everyday groceries as well. This could keep you from making reckless decisions and leaving your house too early. A lot of people are worried about the idea of buying all of their food from restaurants, due to the fact that this can result in you spending far more than you should on meals. Therefore, being able to buy your groceries and have them delivered directly to your home can be a literal lifesaver.
Of course, leaving home isn’t the only issue that e-commerce helps prevent. Think of how many strangers you let enter your home for the typical household repairs and replacements. In some cases, your state government may deem certain businesses, like those of plumbers, as essential. That means that they’ll stay open and remain available to help. Yet as much as you may want to help local businesses by spending your money on them, this could present a potential risk for you. Any stranger can bring COVID-19 into your home, and you should minimize contact with people as much as possible. This means that if you can handle a repair on your own, or put it off until the pandemic has subsided, you should. If you’re feeling handy or dealing with a relatively minor issue that you can repair on your own, it’s often possible to buy certain products online. These can include hose clamps for plumbing, replacement carpet patches, and more. If you yourself are still working, you can cut down on your exposure to the outside world by taking advantage of e-commerce. If you transport goods with a 53 foot trailer, for example, you’ll need a trailer brake controller to make sure that everything is running smoothly.
With all of that being said, it’s not enough for people to buy from e-commerce sites. E-commerce based businesses themselves must be ready to face the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Running An E-Commerce Business?
Normally, e-commerce businesses must compete with brick and mortar businesses. Many people prefer to shop at brick and mortar businesses for things like replacement carpet, especially if they’re more old-fashioned. It’s comforting to be able to evaluate products in person and know that you’re getting what you want and need. There can be a certain amount of guessing that comes with e-commerce, and many don’t like the wait times that come with e-commerce. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the level of choice that people have regarding whether or not to use e-commerce. This presents a great opportunity for e-commerce businesses. Not only is there a potential influx of cash; there’s also an opportunity for these businesses to prove their worth. However, with the influx of cash comes a number of new orders. Many e-commerce sites could become overwhelmed during the pandemic, not just in terms of physical orders but in terms of a new amount of people on their websites. In order to maintain potential new customers during the pandemic and afterward, an e-commerce business must maintain a high level of quality and efficiency.
Obviously, the website of an e-commerce business must run smoothly, and be prepared for a new degree of traffic. It’s also important for this type of business to offer a number of different products, and in the case of a pandemic when stock can easily run low, potentially offer alternatives to favorite products if they become unavailable. Managing inventory is going to be crucial during the pandemic. Products can easily run low when a business is more stressed than usual, and the last thing a customer wants is to order a product, thinking that it’s in stock and will arrive, only to be told that it’s now unavailable. This is why a lot of grocery-based e-commerce sites, for example, will often request customers to approve an alternate but similar product if the original order is running low. Furthermore, if a good customer service team wasn’t on hand in the past, business owners will want to ensure that it is now. The fact is that consumers are stressed and working against each other for a relatively low number of products. Their frustration could lead to them becoming resentful against small businesses that fail to properly fulfill orders.
Many of the changes brought about by COVID-19 will likely be permanent or semi-permanent. Those who are taking social distancing seriously now will likely continue to rely more upon e-commerce than they did before the pandemic. Furthermore, a vaccine likely won’t be available for some time. These factors mean that e-commerce may become much more of a first choice for many consumers than it was prior to the pandemic. As this becomes the case more and more often, however, a lot of consumers will begin comparing businesses to each other. There are certain aspects that can set one e-commerce business apart from another, aside from the products that they supply.
How Can An E-Commerce Business Set Itself Apart During The Pandemic?
There are a number of ways in which an e-commerce business can set itself apart and prove popular during the pandemic, and beyond. Consumers often look for a number of different order fulfillment options. While in the past a lot of e-commerce businesses simply offered different variations on shipping, more local businesses should also consider making pickup an option. Lots of consumers would appreciate being able to skip the delivery fees, save money, and pick up their orders at the facility themselves. Of course, the business owners and employees themselves must also consider their own safety. This means that, during the pandemic, a lot of businesses have made curbside pickup an option. In this way, business owners will be able to keep themselves distanced from customers and ensure that the virus isn’t spread. For that matter, many businesses are also utilizing contactless delivery options. Through contact-free delivery, both the customer and the delivery person will be much safer.
Of course, there are a lot of other things that many consumers will be looking for when selecting an e-commerce business. Consider making something like same-day delivery an option as well. Though delivery fees should go towards the cost of delivery in general, businesses can charge extra for their own trouble of ensuring that an order is fulfilled faster than usual. For that matter, businesses can also offer extra add-ons. E-commerce sites should always recommend add-on products, which usually will go along with the products that are already in the consumer’s order. This allows the business to make the best possible profit.
What Should I Look For When Ordering From An E-Commerce Site?
Returning to the mindset of the consumer, it’s important to remember that because right now is a great time to be an e-commerce business owner, there will probably be a lot of new businesses available on the market. The fact is that consumers will probably be spoiled for choices, but not all of those options will be created equally. While many new businesses will likely promise money saved, it may be a better idea to rely upon businesses that you are either familiar with, or can trust based on the recommendation of people that you know. There are a lot of issues that can occur when working with any new business, but particularly in the midst of a pandemic.
A lot of things that you should evaluate when considering ordering from a website, aside from the factors mentioned above, have to do with the website itself. Websites that are well-designed and up to date shouldn’t be the only reasons why you trust a business. However, it is a good sign when a business is remaining forward-thinking, and easy to navigate. Furthermore, you’ll want to stick with an e-commerce site where you can get as much inventory as possible, and perhaps even choose between different brands.
Why Should I Continue To Shop On An E-Commerce Site After The Pandemic Is Over?
Looking forward to the end of the pandemic, when people can feel safe shopping out and about again, what is the reason to continue shopping through an e-commerce site? For one thing, e-commerce can actually help shoppers save money. Rather than making impulse buys as you would while shopping in person, you can buy only what you need at the time and save money. Remember that 85% of people reported that they made shopping decisions based on the product packaging they saw in the moment. Being able to avoid that kind of temptation will certainly fatten your wallet.
Furthermore, you can save a lot of time and work more efficiently when buying through an e-commerce site. Right now, you’re probably working from home; in the last 15 years, the number of people working from home has increased by 173%, and the pandemic will likely increase that number. Being able to stay home and focus on your work rather than leaving to shop will only increase your efficiency.
No matter what, people that previously avoided e-commerce will undoubtedly need to rely upon it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Make informed purchase decisions, and take advantage of the time you’ll have to make those decisions due to the removed nature of online shopping. Lots of people may initially miss their old routines. However, the many advantages of shopping online may make them return to it after this health crisis is resolved.