With the number of coronavirus cases passing twenty-three million worldwide, even countries that have partially reopened their economies are adjusting to a new way of life. In most developed, and many emerging economies, e-commerce has come to the rescue of many businesses. These are businesses that traditionally offer their products and services at a physical location or a face-to-face setting.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the global pandemic is shifting consumer demand for products and services. 

How COVID-19 Has Affected Sales for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses 

With lockdown still in place in many countries, including South Africa, sales of retailers have been severely affected. With stores shut and no other way to sell their products. Even shops that can open under lockdown restrictions have suffered, with the banning of alcohol and cigarette sales.

For many small and medium-sized businesses, the coronavirus has rapidly increased the pace of change across the African continent. More specifically, when it comes to e-commerce. With many individuals predominantly trapped at home, customers have turned to online shopping.

Businesses have had to adapt to survive by launching e-commerce sites to satisfy demand. Those already in the e-commerce space have also seen phenomenal growth in the use of their services. For instance, OneCart, a concierge shopping service, has seen their web traffic volumes increase by over 700%.

Benefits of Setting Up an E-commerce Website

As traffic to e-commerce websites continues to soar globally, it’s important to note that behaviours developed as a result of the global pandemic are set to stay. According to a recent survey, 58% of shoppers are expected to continue their new online shopping habits. These habits are to continue even after the cessation of lockdown restrictions.

Moreover, the growth of e-commerce is far from limited to essential food and supplies. Health and beauty, pet essentials, home goods and appliances, clothing, games, and many more consumer segments have all experienced increases in online demand

Therefore, it makes sense now more than ever to invest in an e-commerce website for your business. With logistical improvements ramped up in the wake of this crisis, many small and medium-sized companies are in a position to take their offering online. By leveraging national (and even international) delivery networks, you can scale your business from a local store to a regional. One can also become a national player within your industry by expanding your reach.

With uncertainty set to continue to dominate, if you own a brick-and-mortar business, you may be subjected to fluctuating restrictions for months, and potentially, years to come. An e-commerce site can provide you with a reliable additional sales channel to help you navigate these uncertain times.

What Does It Take to Create a Successful E-commerce Site? 

If you’ve operated as a traditional business up until now, making a move to e-commerce can seem a little daunting. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With help from the right third parties, you could have a fully “digitised” version of your business within a matter of weeks.

The process begins with creating and designing the website itself. For that, you will need the help of an experienced web development company that specialises in creating fully functional e-commerce sites. 

When it comes to e-commerce, web development is a little more involved, which is why it makes sense to outsource this process. Creating and maintaining an e-commerce website goes far beyond merely choosing which Content Management System (e.g. WordPress) to use.

Expert web design teams will make sure the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are designed in a way that maximises conversions. And, therefore, sales. Once that’s in place, the essential part of the process arrives, which is implementing the ability to process payments online. 

Implementing a payments gateway is something that is again best left to the professionals. There’s a multitude of options, such as self-hosted payments pages, or integrated third-party-hosted applications. Each of these options has different advantages and disadvantages. Your web developers will talk you through them and implement the best fit your particular business needs.

Once your e-commerce website is up and running, you will be able to handle the front end changes. This will include things such as adding or removing products/services. However, you will need ongoing professional support to handle the backend updates and improvements.

Take Your Business Online with Experienced E-commerce Web Developers

Here at Ninety10, we’ve provided e-commerce solutions to a broad range of clients right across South Africa. We understand that, with over a billion websites online today, you need the professional expertise to help make yours stand out above the rest. 

By providing responsive, SEO-optimised designs combined with industry-leading user experiences, we deliver that precise outcome. If you would like to discuss your e-commerce requirements, get in touch to see how we can transform your business from offline stalwart into an online powerhouse.