June 7, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The global pandemic was devastating for several businesses, namely retail, restaurants, hospitality and in-person entertainment. While many businesses closed their doors permanently, others surfaced and even thrived.
Some businesses were forced to pivot to an online ecosystem that they were not familiar with, as retailers had to move inventory online to remain above water and some restaurants were forced to rely solely on delivery to keep their doors open.
The ecommerce industry grew at exponential rates, with established brands gaining incredible growth and newcomers setting a blistering pace. Rather than focus on the negative impact Covid-19 had on businesses, let’s focus on the lessons brands can learn from what the pandemic caused within the retail and ecommerce industries.
1. Consumers will always be willing to spend money
While there was a lot of doom and gloom talk going on during the pandemic, many retailers were reporting record online sales. Just to paint the picture for you, Best Buy reported that its online sales shot up by more than 240 percent during the second quarter. Many people stocked up on electronics to keep themselves and their families occupied while inside since there was no clear indication of when “normal” would return.
Even with so much uncertainty regarding employment, income and the economy, consumers were still spending money. While “save it for a rainy day” would have been the smartest financial move, consumers are naturally inclined to spend.
Faced with boredom and redundancy during the lockdown, many consumers turned to online shopping as a form of entertainment.
2. Commerce has shifted heavily online
Even as states begin to open up and retail stores follow suit, the pandemic has introduced an entirely new demographic to the convenience of online shopping. From buying common household items on Amazon and having them arrive within days to ordering groceries online and having them on one’s doorstep within hours, many of these consumers will continue to shop online simply because it’s more convenient.
Ecommerce brands shouldn’t fear retail opening back up and taking market share back. Instead, focus on driving that convenience message in all marketing and advertising. Instead, think of ways to provide even more value to your customers.
Is there a subscription option you can roll out to make repeat fulfillment more convenient for the customer while also creating a consistent and reliable revenue stream for your brand? Now is a prime time to introduce convenience upsells.
3. Social media can launch a brand literally overnight
One of the most interesting things I noticed during the pandemic was just how many one-person operations popped up and flourished thanks to social media. From handmade clothing and accessories to arts and crafts, I saw so many creatives launch successful brands with nothing more than a TikTok or Instagram platform.
It was real-world social proof that a brand could gain insane momentum without spending $20,000 on a custom Shopify build or six figures on Facebook ads. When you have a truly special product, your customers will be more than willing to share and support your efforts.
While many will ride the wave as is, I’ve seen some reinvest heavily in their brand, creating a nice website and running paid ads to further grow. Those that reinvest intelligently with a focus on building a long-term brand will succeed wildly.
4. Consumers love D2C brands with a thriving community
Why would a consumer spend $30 for a gummy supplement when there are knock-off products on Amazon for $8? The simple answer is the more expensive brand has built a thriving community, and the consumer is willing to pay a premium to be part of that community.
Creative brands that have successfully built a community encourage their customers to share on social media using designated hashtags. This creates UGC (user-generated content) that the brands share on their own social profiles.
Consumers love the idea of being highlighted by the brands they feel a part of and will pay a premium price to feel like they belong. UGC is also one of the most effective pieces of content you can leverage, and it’s much more effective than content that looks like a traditional advertisement.
5. Never be afraid to pivot to unlock new opportunities
The pandemic caused many brands to pivot. Some apparel manufacturers shifted to making facemasks and PPE, and by doing so they grew at alarming rates. While many businesses were closing their doors and laying off staff, those that pivoted to new opportunities couldn’t hire fast enough to meet new demands.
A brand needs to always be looking for and open to pivoting. There is nothing wrong with shifting directions if a new opportunity presents itself. Many brands are stubborn and laser-focused on one thing, whereas if they were always open to new opportunities, it would lead to additional successful and profitable ventures.