It has been more than a year since the British official confirmed the first case on February 1, 2020. Even if the United Kingdom first implemented a national lockdown on March 23, it has been almost a year.
This year, the British economy and business were hit hard, but one industry was untouched and became the biggest beneficiary of the epidemic.
This industry is e-commerce.
According to data released by the British Retail Consortium, 2020 was the worst year for the British retail industry due to the epidemic lockdown impact. However, as consumers turned to online shopping for safety during the epidemic, last year, the UK online business increased more than one-third.
The British Financial Times reported on February 9, 2021, that before the outbreak of the epidemic, e-commerce accounted for about 7% of the UK retail market. It now accounts for about 14%.
According to Royal Mail data, during the first lockdown period (March to July 2020), 16,000 e-commerce companies were founded in the UK, which is the industry with the highest increase in start-ups.
During the third blockade that began on January 5, 2021, British e-commerce has further developed. The latest data released by the British Retail Association on February 9 showed that online non-food sales in the UK increased by 83% in January this year, the highest increase on record. The rise in the same period last year was only 1%.
Since the outbreak of the virus in the UK, many surveys conducted by the association have shown the same trend: the epidemic has severely hit offline retail businesses, but online retail companies have benefited from the lockdown and are booming.
This trend is not limited to the UK. Many countries also showed the same trend during the epidemic.
Some people call the online shopping trend that has become popular since 2010 as the “digital revolution” of the retail industry. The epidemic accelerated this revolution. A research report published by the US multinational computer software company Adobe believes that the epidemic has accelerated the growth of e-commerce by 4 to 6 years.
British online supermarket Ocado said on February 9 that the global grocery industry is undergoing “permanent changes”. Many of their customers said that it is impossible to regain their pre-epidemic shopping habits.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development led a survey of approximately 3,700 consumers in 9 countries last year. The survey found that the epidemic has indeed permanently changed consumers’ online shopping behaviour.
The nine countries are Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey.
The survey found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half of the respondents shopped online more often, and the trend of consumers in emerging economies turning to online shopping was the most obvious.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition to a more digital world. As the world economy begins to recover, the changes we are making now will have a lasting impact.
The survey also found that consumers are shopping more online, which will continue after the epidemic.
Most interviewees said they would continue to shop online after the epidemic. In the future, they will buy more daily necessities online.
They also stated that in the future, they would travel more domestically. This discovery will have a significant impact on the international tourism industry.
Deloitte, the world’s largest accounting firm, also pointed out that the epidemic is rapidly changing consumers’ online shopping behaviour. This transition is likely to continue after the epidemic. Although many companies face short-term survival challenges, the crisis also brings opportunities: companies that invest in online businesses decisively and promptly may become market leaders.
So, how can we seize the opportunity in the crisis?
Barclays Bank surveyed more than 300 senior executives in the UK retail industry. Due to the booming online shopping activities in the UK during the epidemic, the survey found that to meet this demand and enhance their online sales capabilities, 15% of the UK Retailers have created related jobs specifically.
The survey also found that 26% of respondents believe that the epidemic has accelerated the “technical revolution”.
The United Kingdom is the world’s third-largest e-commerce market. Many British companies have further invested in online sales-related technologies during the epidemic lockdown: 33% of British retailers have upgraded their websites, and 32% of retail sales. Retailers began to accept new payment methods, and 26% of retailers embraced data analysis for the first time.
The survey found that 94% of British retail owners are optimistic about the growth opportunities in 2021, and among the owners of supermarket brands, this proportion is as high as 97%.