Legend has it that the first online transaction was a cannabis sale between Massachusetts Institute of Technology students in 1972 using the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), the predecessor to today’s Internet.

However, for most people, e-commerce became a reality with the launch of US giants Amazon in 1994 and e-Bay in 1995.

Since that time, the global e-commerce market has grown to $1.4 trillion in 2014, to $3.5 trillion in 2019, and is expected to reach $4.5 trillion in 2021.

With the global COVID-19 pandemic closing bricks and mortar stores and many countries locking down residents in their homes for weeks or even months, consumers’ view of online shopping has dramatically changed. Online purchasing is fast becoming the ‘norm’ for many consumers, and this trend has been accelerated by the pandemic as many consumers avoid crowded stores and instead shop from the comfort of home.

In the US alone, e-commerce represents over 10% of retail sales, and that’s expected to grow by 15% annually. We’ve seen similar trends in Australia, with the NAB estimating that in the 12 months to March 2020, Australians spent $31.91 billion on online retail, an increase of 11.9% on the 12 months to March 2019.

If that doesn’t get your interest, well, frankly it should. Opportunities are almost unlimited for businesses that get online retail right.

So, the question is: does your business have a direct to consumer model in place or have you thought about how you could adapt your model?

Whether your business is clothing, homewares, personal services, travel, or something else, now’s the time to get active in building your online presence and increasing your sales.

E-commerce is more than simply building a website and expecting consumers to find (and buy) your products. Consumers have become increasingly sophisticated, and many now expect to buy directly through social media via their mobile devices. Read about some online retailers that may inspire you.

But, it’s more than just your website. Customer experience is at the heart of your business – do you make it easy for customers to confidently buy from you, return items if needed, pay the way they want to, and give you feedback? If not, be prepared to lose business as customers turn to online retailers who provide an exceptional, customer-centric experience.

Adopting a customer centric approach will require significant internal organisation, planning, and coordination of your business’ processes, IT and staff.

For many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown provided the impetus to change the way their business operated, with many retailers moving rapidly online to continue trading as their bricks and mortar stores were forced to close.  Leaders of these businesses urgently needed to rethink and reimagine their business; to plan, retrain staff and reach consumers in different ways. Those who haven’t yet changed their business model are likely to fall behind unless they proactively refine their strategy, build their online presence and restructure their operations to meet changed consumer expectations

BridgePoint Group is not an IT company, and we won’t sell you shiny new systems or build you a website. But we want you to take advantage of the e-commerce boom or at least give it proper consideration before deciding that it’s not for you. We want you to have technology and processes that provide an enhanced experience for customers and encourage them to buy from you, instead of from your competitors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has expedited consumers’ transition to e-commerce – and your actions now will determine whether your business will share in the $4.5 trillion e-commerce market.

If you would like to re-imagine and restructure your business, or review your business systems, please reach out to the team at BridgePoint Group.

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Neil Parker
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