E-Commerce & The High Street In 2021
After a year of uncertainty for the High Street, retailers are anxiously waiting to see how severe the effects of Covid-19 have been on their store. With retail giants Debenhams going under, concern has been caused for business owners. They are now looking to prioritise digital & online growth to sell via e-commerce.
Covid-19 caused for more worry for businesses not willing to adapt to the decline of High Street sales. With online shoppers now making up 81% of the UKs population, it is certain that selling your business products online & understanding E-commerce trends is vital. Selling is only one element however, in order to survive & thrive in this current digital climate, you will need an arsenal of digital marketing methods.
Due to the uncertaintiy 2020 left us in, it’s difficult to judge what will unfold this year. But upon analysis of consumer habits in 2020 we can now get a real sense of what’s likely to happen with E-commerce and the high street in 2021.
How Did E-Commerce Save Us In 2020?
Ask yourself, how could you have coped without online shopping in 2020?
E-commerce websites replaced shops in 2020. Many businesses unable to operate face to face transactions and the increasing ease of online shopping, e-commerce has become an essential part of business growth catalysed by the pandemic. Showcasing the rise of e-commerce over brick and mortar retail stores. We have all benefitted from the ease of browsing, buying and receiving items from home.
As we mentioned before, it isn’t just for major corporations such as Amazon & eBay, all size of business can benefit. Four major industries profit immensely from online purchasing & selling: B2b (Business-to-business), b2c (Business-to-Consumer) c2c (Consumer-to-Consumer)
E-commerce is so much more than selling & purchasing online nowadays, it has filled the void of public shopping. Each business has made the transition from the high street to home – whether it be restaurants becoming eligible for takeaway or retailers moving to online sales.
Could we be seeing the beginning of the end for the high street?
The Decline Of High Street Shopping
It is no secret that the gradual decline of High Street popularity and sales has been accompanied by the pandemics temporary closure of stores. Coronavirus proved to Debenhams and other retailers that rising costs of operating a high street shop (rent, rates and expenses ) is unsustainable among the adaptation/choice to transfer to online sales.
Pre-Covid, the High Street was already struggling. In a January 2020 report, online transactions were accountable for 19% of all retail sales in the UK with that figure expected to rise to 53% within the next 10 years.
Rising business rates and Inflation are just some factors that have steadily caused a decline in sales of high street stores. or maybe it is the ever-improving online sales and the accessibility of E-commerce that causes town centres and retail as a whole to struggle.
Debenhams have been struggling for years before the liquidation Proceedings began in December of 2020. They are the latest of major retailers to close down due to the ever increasing rents, wages, maintenance and overall poor financial management. Debenhams adapted to the digital world with an E-commerce website, however customers became too familiar with products and lack of stock compared to online.
Overall footfall of the high street has been falling year on year, with consumers opting for online sales. The downfall of Debenhams was imminent, and it truly solidified just how ever-changing the high street really is.
The Effect Of SEO On E-Commerce Websites
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is an assured method posing massive benefits to E-commerce sites. Extensive SEO, purpose- built for E-commerce will increase online visibility & search engine result positioning that drives traffic and potential sales to your site.
It is the improvement of quality and quantity of website traffic to a website/webpage from search engines. It directly targets unpaid traffic.
Methods such as mobile first design, where an E-commerce site is built with mobile users prioritised can allow more mobile transactions for instance. As well as the use of keywords can really showcase your business to internet bots that crawl the site and alter search engine positioning.
Social Media – How Vital Is It?
As the population have been confined to their homes for the majority of 2020, more users have flocked to social media for entertainment & engagement. Since the start of the pandemic, mobile phone usage has risen with some users reporting a 180% increase of screen time.
With more viewers on screen, it is important that businesses take advantage of this and post, share and display relevant content – to stay in touch with customers during the pandemic.
2021 – Retail Comeback Or E-Commerce Domination?
2020 has shown us all that we rely on E-commerce more than ever. Its significance cannot be understated. Pandemic or not, the High street has declined in popularity and turnover. The effects of Coronavirus can prove to be fatal to businesses as displayed by Debenhams. It poses the question “Will shopping ever be the same?”
Within all of the uncertainty there is a glimmer of hope for companies in the form of E-commerce websites that are in an increasingly high demand. Local business owners are finding solace in the fact that their businesses can remain operational online for an affordable investment. This poses the question will we see the demise of high street shopping completely in the battle between retail & e-commerce.