eCommerce is Part of the 4th Industrial Revolution and Small Businesses Need to Adapt for it Now
Generally when we speak about the 4th Industrial Revolution we think about the major trends in technology such as artificial intelligence and automation that will cause major disruption in the employee workforce. But there’s another force at play that will impact the livelihoods of a major segment of most economies. That force is eCommerce and independent small businesses without capabilities or a plan to get onboard will be decimated alongside many others who are woefully under-prepared. It’s true eCommerce was already trending steadily upwards, however, the current COVID-19 pandemic has injected rocket fuel into its growth trajectory.
The Hard Truth
PYMNTS.com, a trusted source of information about trends in payments, recently took a set of comprehensive customer surveys over a 6 week period and the results were clear: Most people are prioritizing their personal safety over everything else. Which means until a vaccine for COVID-19 is vetted and released for mass deployment, consumer buying behavior will continue to shift in favor of commerce that allows them to buy their needs and wants at a distance.
According to the PYMNTS research:
More than half of the consumers (52 percent) who shifted to digital grocery shopping say they won’t go back to their old ways of shopping, as online delivery and curbside pickup are gaining ground. And 60 percent of the consumers who shifted to digital to shop for things other than grocery items say the same.
So realistically, this new buyers mentality could extend deep into 2021, and likely take eCommerce to the next level since expectations that even small businesses should facilitate an online shopping experience. It’s very similar to the way today everyone expects a business or professional they work with now to have a website at bare minimum to be considered legitimate. 18 to 24 months from now, the proverbial local mom and pops will need a digital version of their brick and mortars to simply survive, as if it wasn’t hard enough.
Now is the Time to Pivot
The good news is that small businesses have almost a two year runway to make a shift or enhance their current offerings. Certainly many goods and services offered today aren’t necessarily a great fit for an eCommerce model, however, we’re living in a time that calls for innovation. This means a small business may need to develop new products and services in order to have an eCommerce arm to diversify their income streams.
Part of the Small Business strategic survival mindset needs to be to:
- Take stock of where they are with their products and services. What’s winning and why? What’s not doing so well and why?
- Survey their customers to find out what their current needs and pain points are. Can their customers get what they need from them easily or is it a hassle because they can only get it in person?
- Figuring out what their customers wish they could get through their trusted merchant.
- Deciding whether all or some of their products can be sold through an online store?
- Should they reinvent themselves and go 100% eCommerce and abandon their brick and mortar presence?
- Should they create second or even third sources alongside their traditional offline sources to bolster their revenue that will allow them to withstand market twists and turns?
- Determine how they can extend their reach beyond their local areas.
All of this takes vision and planning, but the opportunity, technology, and services exist now to ensure a future for small businesses ready to pivot in order to be a part of the revolution and not victims of it.