Under the "New Normal", What's the Darkness and Light for Our Favourite Online Stores?
COVID-19 seems to make our old shopping experience a blur. And our new online shopping habits are formed under the pandemic.
I remember vividly, the first time that I could go to the Canberra Centre when restrictions have been lifted, I found that my shopping habits and desires have changed completely. Before COVID-19, I was very found of shopping for clothing, accessories and taking a look at what’s the latest at the Flight Centre shop front. Now, I am no longer interested in buying anything that’s “non-essential”. But when it comes to online buying, our household weekly shopping has almost shifted entirely to online order and home delivery services.
There are millions if not billions of people are changing their buying habits like me. During COVID-19, health and safety is the top concern and priority in life. Furthermore, there are isolation restrictions, social distancing measures and working from home practices put in place in many countries across the globe. Consumers have been making the conscious decision of avoiding public places or anyplace that is crowded to reduce that chances of getting infected by the virus.
Image from: https://www.emarketer.com/chart/234551/internet-users-select-countries-who-have-avoided-crowded-public-places-protect-themselves-coronavirus-by-country-march-2020-of-respondents-each-group
The below data    demonstrates the impact that COVID-19 has for eCommerce across the globe. This pandemic not only changed the way we live and work, but also fundamentally altered the retail industry.
Australian ecommerce grew more than 80 per cent year on year (YOY) in the 8 weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation.
U.S. retailers' online year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth is up 68% as of mid-April, surpassing an earlier peak of 49% in early January.
There's been a 129% year-over-year growth in U.S. & Canadian e-commerce orders as of April 21 and an impressive 146% growth in all online retail orders.
China’s online grocery market can expect to grow 62.9% in 2020 to 264 billion RMB compared to a 29.2% growth last year.
In my opinion, there are very real challenges for e-commerce business, but at the same time, there are promising opportunities as well. E-commerce businesses must get ready to face the light and darkness of the age of COVID-19.
I would like to highlight one key aspect that businesses have to consider. It is digital transformation. If digital transformation is not done fast enough, it might result into the collapse of the business under COVID-19.
“Digital transformation: A staged programme of business improvements to people, process and tools used for integrated digital marketing to maximise the potential contribution of digital technology and media to business growth”.
There are online stores and retail businesses which are experiencing strong growth under COVID-19, yet others are bumping into troubles. For example, while major shopping centres suffer but an online doctor service, Prime Medic which was launched last year has grown 1000 percent. Sofi Spritz, Australia’s largest independent pre-batched cocktail business, its online sales were up 300 per cent. While the famous active wear brand, Lorna Jane has been fined almost $40,000 over claims that its products could protect again coronavirus, and this might have a negative impact on the brand’s reputation and might affect sales online.
Here are the challenges and opportunities for e-commerce businesses that I have observed during the pandemic.
Light/opportunities: online business boom across the globe, online services further diversified, demand in luxury goods dropped, people started to think about what’s really needed in life, care more about sustainability and environmental issues.
Darkness/challenges: panic buying, price war, fierce online competitions, supplier chain management, management of brand reputation online and on social media channels.
Under the “New Normal”, we are facing a changing way of life and work. We are facing our own version of darkness and light in our daily lives. Hopefully, our favourite online stores will survive or even thrive under COVID-19.
 https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2020/04/28/how-covid-19-is-transforming-e-commerce/#73d6398f3544  Australia Post Inside Australian Online Shopping 2020 eCommerce Industry Report https://auspost.com.au/content/dam/auspost_corp/media/documents/2020-ecommerce-industry-report.pdf
 https://globalriskinsights.com/2020/05/covid-19-chinas-e-commerce/  P.22, Chaffey, Dave, and Fiona Ellis-Chadwick. Digital Marketing, Pearson Education Limited, 2019
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