How E-Commerce Websites Help SME Businesses Compete Equally Through The Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on people’s personal and professional lives. An increasing number of businesses, across all industries, are reworking their business model to focus on E-Commerce websites. Investing in secure online platforms that perfectly illustrates their brand and adheres to the latest search engine algorithms. A seamless online buying and selling experience.
In a day and age where seemingly immovable British retail giants like Debenhams and the Arcadia Group can go under, the pandemic has encouraged thousands of businesses to uproot online. More to the point, small to medium businesses can compete equally against far larger competitors. And win.
If E-Commerce websites are the shops, Google page one was the high street of 2020, and it looks to retain the footfall in 2021 with more lockdown restrictions preventing the majority of businesses physically opening their doors. To not only survive but thrive online, businesses need a purpose built E-Commerce website and a dedicated SEO strategy to drive traffic to their site.
The facts are the UK is the third largest market for E-Commerce globally, and the largest B2C market in Europe. Online shoppers now make up 81% of the UK population. By 2024, it is predicted that an enormous 95% of all retail sales will be conducted with the help of an E-Comm platform.
What Are E-Commerce Websites?
The official definition is ‘transactions conducted electronically on the internet. They’ve existed for years, first gaining real popularity with platforms such as PayPal and of course Amazon.
The technology can be adapted for use in online retail outlets, supermarkets, specialists / niche industry, to make appointments and order from restaurants. We can develop platforms that offer hundreds of products, enable you to easily account for all sales, monitor stock levels, and represent your brand in its most positive light.
Different Types of E-Commerce
Businesses of all sizes can generate revenue and receive a high return on investment with online sales. E-Commerce are big business, but you don’t have to be a major player in the industry to generate more online sales. In layman’s terms at least, the technology is near enough the same regardless of industry. The focal point being encrypted security for protection.
There are four leading industries that can thrive from a website that offers online sales. These include:
- Business-to-Consumer – This is the most common example. A business creates a product and sells directly to a customer
- Business-to-Business. One business selling directly to another business. Suppliers to stores or businesses that sell to consumers
- Consumer-to-business. A popular consumer, let’s say a blogger, links back or promotes a product or service in return for financial reward, which is paid digitally
- Consumer-to-consumer. Consumers who are not registered businesses, sole traders or part of a company purchasing products online. eBay has successfully capitalised this market and own a majority share
The Covid-19 Effect on the High Street
It’s easy to wholeheartedly blame the pandemic and lockdown on the death of the high street. Three national lockdowns have of course play a significant part in the likes of Debenhams and the Arcadia Group going into administration. In truth, the accelerating costs of operating a traditional shop compared to an E-Commerce site is staggering. The pandemic has not forced retail outlets out of business, it has more been the final nail in the coffin.
Debenhams has been struggling for years before Covid-19 breached and temporarily closed the high street. According to an article published on March 16th 2020 in the Financial Times, Debenhams rent and rates bill was around two hundred and fifty million pounds a year. Just to open their doors.
Of course, this is far more than the average SME business opening a physical store or business. But overall footfall on the high street has been falling year on year. With bricks and mortar retailers unable to compete with online bargains, and not attracting the number of visitors needed. An article published in the Guardian on October 14th 2019 says that the number of shoppers on UK high street has fallen by 10% in just seven years.
Online Sales Statistics 2020
Below are a few digestible facts to help illustrate the enormity of the UK E-Commerce market.
- E-Commerce added £5.3 billion to UK economy in 2020 alone
- 48% of all online shoppers start their search with a keyword, longtail or semantic on Google
- Debenhams, historically amongst the largest UK retailers, sold to online giant Boohoo for £55 million
- The Boohoo deal bought Debenhams out of administration – Bohoo bought brand assets, E-Commerce & website operations. Along with all own label products across fashion & beauty
- One hundred and eighteen stores of Debenhams will go into liquidation. Ten thousand staff will be out of work
- Boohoo, at the time of writing (02/02/2021), have no physical stores
Digital Marketing & E-Commerce
As would be expected, the recent unforeseen boom has increased online competition greatly. However, for smaller retailers looking to serve loyal customers and appear in local SERPs, a digital marketing strategy will help you cash in.
A well-structured and keyword focused SEO strategy operating around content writing, link building and outstanding online reviews will encourage Google to rank your business in local SERPs.
PPC campaigns can also be good to quickly promote new sales or products, as an SEO campaign starts to gather organic traffic and trust from the public.
Social media marketing is another effective digital advertising strategy. Making best use of videos , pictures and an exceptionally accurate / niche customer targeting.
E-Commerce Website Solutions
Pandemic or no pandemic, the UK online shopping market is alive and well. Businesses that are unable to open their doors are investing to support existing customers and attract new ones. Search4Local offer custom-designed E-Commerce sites. Please call 01392 409159 to start your E-Commerce success story today.