Of course, we can’t get away from the C word, can we? COVID’s still with us at the time of speaking. I hope someone will be listening to this webinar sometime and think, yeah, that was the pandemic looking back. I fear we can’t look back yet.
ECommerce purchases are increasing, and of course, lockdowns have meant that people have relied more and more on these technologies, as we’re doing today. Also, eCommerce has grown. It’s been a pretty good time to be an eCommerce retailer in many sectors.
Let’s remember, of course, that it’s not as big because you might think. It’s possible to read the hype and think, there’re hardly any stores anymore. The High Street is completely dead. No one ever goes shopping, even when there isn’t a lockdown. In fact, eCommerce is something like 14.1%, according to Radial, and March 2020 retail sales fell.
Of course, if you have a strong eCommerce platform, you’re hedging your bets, aren’t you?
Even if the stores are not doing so well, as long as you’ve got a healthy eCommerce business, you’re balanced. I just heard in the UK that some of the grocery retailers are announcing bumper profits, including Marks & Spencer on their food business.
Let’s not imagine that during the last 18 months or so, everyone’s been in big trouble. People have been buying things. They’ve had them delivered to their homes. Some people have gone to stores. They haven’t been as busy as they were.
Retail is still alive and well. There are some people who actually have had more disposable income, people able to work from home, not so much cost of travelling, and maybe less going out and entertainment.
There are some parts of society, I think in every country, that had a pretty good pandemic, which may sound contradictory. Of course, some of those people have been spending money.
Rise of online food shopping in UK is real
In the UK, physical stores make up the largest portion of grocery shopping. It was something like 10%, as recently as the year 2019 to 2020, we said they purchased food items over the internet once a week. About a third said they never bought food products online.
Of course, that’s changed during the pandemic.
In 2021, over 40% shoppers in the UK said they would continue food shopping online at the same level. Whether the grocery retailers are ready for that, I don’t know. They must secretly have their own projections about what’s going to happen.
Everybody’s doing it. Morrisons, Ocado, Iceland, Amazon Fresh, Tesco are doing extremely well at the moment. They’ve moved to an omnichannel model. Something like 45% of online shoppers in the UK stated that they had ordered from Tesco.
Impact on business
It’s been a weird time, but I think some things have changed, which are not going back. Post-pandemic, it’s not like the clock will be wound back two or three years, because some habits have changed.
We only have to look at our own lives, don’t we? Business meetings. A lot of people I talk to are saying, it’s more efficient.
We’ve had Zoom meetings, we’ve had Teams meetings. Yeah, you can’t beat face-to-face in certain cases, but in other cases, you can’t beat virtual.
It’s a lot less hassle, it’s that trouble with travel, and people can perhaps have a quick meeting in the middle of a busy day, without lots of preparation and travel to make it happen.
Yeah. I think just before we move on from eCommerce, Mike, I think it’s really important. My family, certainly, we did the home deliveries like everybody else.
I’ve got four hungry kids to feed, and we’ve kept those deliveries on even well-after we were told we could go shopping again. Partly out of deference to the guidelines and not wanting to associate with crowds and hoards of people at supermarkets, which I don’t actually think is the case anymore anyway.
What’s interesting with the brands that you’ve cited there, I certainly know Morrisons and Ocado, maybe Amazon Fresh as well. It’s not like those deliveries are coming out from the local store, and delivering to houses in the local area. They’re now running dedicated distribution centres.
In terms of where I live in Cheshire, we don’t have a Morrisons anywhere near us, but I can get a Morrisons delivery.
There’s some really seismic shifts in business models. Everything from distribution, customer service, that has been facilitated by the drive to eCommerce.
I think, as a lesson to marketers and something to think about as we move forward, this trend isn’t going away.
People are more comfortable buying things online. That experience is very important, and you need to really think it through, and think through all the constituent steps of what the storefront looks like, live stock, delivery, when can they get it, and all the confirmation process, and all the stuff that’s associated with running a D2C, direct-to-consumer business.
Particularly in a lot of the B2B sectors I work in, that could dramatically transform quite a lot of businesses, if they were to start to go in that direction.
Several years ago, Amazon was always held up as the gold standard in eCommerce. Apple, very clean and clear websites and all the rest of it. More and more people are doing that. There’s a lot of brands that are doing it better now. I think these things are here to stay.
I think it’s a very, very important trend, which also means there’s opportunities for people to make it work for them in their businesses as well.
Absolutely. It reminds us, of course, that the world wide web is not just somewhere to advertise. It’s actually a channel, it’s a way of doing business.
It’s been more disruptive than just a new TV channel or a new radio station, or a new newspaper. They were just adding to what we already had. The web has been entirely transformational. Looking at those companies, Amazon Fresh couldn’t exist without the web. Think of all the businesses that rely on this technology for the essence of their business model.
Whereas someone like Tesco were successful in the old days, and they’ve worked really hard to re-engineer themselves.
They’ve invested, they’ve hired good people, and they’re a cutting-edge eCommerce site, as well as a very accomplished retailer. I guess certainly in this country, but in many other countries, grocery retailers have to be both these days, because customers demand it.