Virus Catalyst: How COVID-19 Sped Up E-Commerce and Digital Transformation

2020 will probably forever be etched in history as the year of world-shattering unexpected changes. It’s amazing how the virus has changed the way we live today, from school down to work. And who would think America with all its might would be the hardest hit? With over 600,000 Americans dead, it’s hard to imagine how things have gotten out of hand for the Land of the Brave.

Ultimately, people adapted. In the process, one sector that had a massive shift during the pandemic was e-commerce. Businesses needed to pivot. They had to make a paradigm shift as to strategy and marketing options. And you could say, it’s a positive change brought about by what many call an existential threat,

The truth of the matter is the switch to digital has been long coming. It was meant to be. The virus hastened the adoption. As the virus threat became real, businesses had to pivot or die. In this sense, the COVID-19 virus was like a catalyst that sped up digital transformation, a massive change in the business world that might just be here to stay for good.

Speedy Digital Transformation

A few decades back, the story was entirely different. We had to deal with various issues when it came to platforms for e-commerce. Talk about dealing with glitches when trying to sign-up or long loading times of the sites, and many more. All these were frustrating for many customers, and business owners looked to improve by the day.

As the years went by, digital platforms became more accessible. There was an increase in apps available to customers for transactions. And this just improved performance for e-commerce businesses. During this period, it became a necessity for business owners to up their game digitally. It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.

For instance, during the pandemic UK business was pushed forward 5.3 years in digital transformation. Globally, the pandemic alone was able to accelerate strategy for digital communications by about 6%. And that’s a huge margin.

So during the pandemic, Americans had easy access to e-commerce platforms. Small wonder Amazon dubbed “the pandemic giant” grew by leaps and bounds during this period (and Jeff Bezos became the richest). In just a short span of time, it became the third biggest employer on the planet.

Many business owners were able to keep their businesses moving thanks to this spot-on digital transformation. For one, even though people were home, they had meetings through Zoom and other teleconferencing platforms.

So even though there was a quick shift in e-commerce, many adjusted well thanks to technology.

Different countries have had their fair share of this digital transformation. Talk about Vietnam’s digital transformation where there has been a massive increase in digital activities. Thus, allowing businesses to bloom even after having two waves of the virus.


Action Points

There has always been a digital divide even before the pandemic started. And for this reason, it has become hard to properly harness the potential of e-commerce globally. So to do this, there has to be a collective effort in providing support globally.

The first line of action rests on the government. The government must place a priority on digital readiness. With this, more local businesses can become producers more than they are consumers in the digital economy.

This would involve making some policy changes that will help improve the digital infrastructure. Also, business practices should be put in place for better online transactions as well as security.

Small business owners should also recognize the season we are in. You will be doing yourself more harm than good if you don’t hop on to the latest trends in digital marketing. And also having an online platform for your business. So what can be done?

Start by creating an online presence for your business. Build your business an address online. To do this,  working with a professional website designer would be wise. A well-designed web page is not only aesthetically pleasing to your clients but first and foremost it must also be functional to answer the needs of your market.

Then try as much as you can to have a section for purchasing products. A seamless customer experience will give your brand greater clout on the market.

Bracing for the Future

Stats show e-commerce businesses will have a 265% growth rate this year 2021. This just shows that there is a steady growth in e-commerce. And it is expected to even get better as the years go by.

Also, e-commerce is believed to be shifting away from the western hemisphere. The United States, one of the giants in e-commerce, experienced a 16.9% decrease in 2020. This is why businesses need to opt for a global approach.

With the global approach, your business becomes accessible to all. And it becomes convenient for people all around the world to access your products. The good news is you wouldn’t even have to own a physical store outside the country for the business to function. This makes it easy for you as a business owner to keep track of your business. And profit handsomely in the process.

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“Right now, computers make our lives easier. They do work for us in fractions of a second that would take us hours. […] As things progress, they’ll be doing more and more for us.”
Steve Jobs
co-founder of Apple Inc. and founder of NeXT
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