23rd April 2021

Shopify's E-commerce boom: Here to stay?

by Bekah

Introduction.

There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live our lives. From the widespread adoption of remote working to our various new ways of connecting socially, we’ve seen a seismic shift in the way we use and depend on technology.

With lockdowns, travel bans and retail closures in place for much of the last twelve months, many industries have suffered. However, it’ll come as no surprise to you that E-commerce has had a pretty good year.

In this blog post, we look into the E-commerce boom of 2020/21, changing customer needs and shopping behaviour, as well show you how our agency helps businesses grow online with the use of Shopify.

 

The impact of lockdowns on Shopify.

With brick-and-mortar stores closed for the foreseeable future, consumers were forced online and retailers followed. According to a global survey conducted by Shopify, 84% of us have shopped online during the pandemic, including nearly 150 million people who had never shopped online before. Nearly half of those people said they’d bought items online that they’d only ever purchased in-store before, including household cleaning supplies and pharmacy products. 

So it’s no wonder that we’ve seen an explosion of new stores during the pandemic. It’s given many business owners the time and the motivation to see an opportunity for innovation and meet the new customer needs. 

As a result, between March 13 and April 24 2020, the number of new Shopify-powered stores soared by 62%. Small, independent retailers turned to the internet in an attempt to recoup their lost in-store revenue, and many large retailers shifted their focus to online sales, some even selling direct-to-consumer for the first time.

 

Meeting new customer needs.

Even before the pandemic, speed and convenience were known to be key motivators for consumers making purchasing decisions. Recent studies by GWI and Google show that convenience remains the number one priority, and consumers are still largely driven by free delivery and easy checkout. 

Customers also care about sustainable packaging, with a US study from Ipsos showing that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy a product that is packaged sustainably, even paying a premium to do so.

Shopify is also helping smaller retailers to refine their E-commerce experience, offering secure, mobile-friendly checkouts, abandoned cart recovery and inventory management out of the box.

Let’s look into a few examples of how sellers adapted to the new shopping behaviour and customer expectations.

 

PepsiCo: Mitigating the loss of in-store sales.

One great example of this is PepsiCo, which launched two direct-to-consumer online stores – snacks.com and pantryshop.com – to mitigate any potential loss of in-store sales. Using Shopify, they were able to go from concept to launch in less than 30 days, offering their customers a fully-branded store with a familiar, easy-to-use checkout. 

snacks.com

 

PepsiCo senior vice president and head of e-commerce Gibu Thomas said:

“In these uncertain times, as more and more consumers are using e-commerce channels to purchase food and beverage products, PantryShop.com and Snacks.com offer shoppers another alternative for easy and fast access to products they love.”

 

Deviant & Dandy: Hospitality’s shift to online sales.

Unable to open their taproom during the lockdown, east London-based craft beer brewery Deviant & Dandy shifted their focus to online retail. They were already selling their products through their website, but by moving to a branded Shopify storefront, they made the path to purchase clearer and easier for their customers. Just by installing an app, they were also able to introduce a subscription option for their products.

deviantanddandy.com

 

Pot Gang: Subscription boom.

Founder Sam Smith started his company, Pot Gang, during lockdown as a response to seeing many of his family and friends trying (and in many cases, failing!) to grow herbs and vegetables on their windowsills and balconies. Pot Gang’s monthly subscription provides customers with three types of seed each month, plus the pots and guidance needed for the plants to flourish in an urban environment. 

Using Shopify, Pot Gang were able to easily launch an online store, complete with product subscriptions. They offer their customers a familiar, ease-to-use purchase process, while still maintaining the look and feel of the Pot Gang brand. 

potgang.co.uk

 

Online shopping: Here to stay?

At the height of the pandemic, years of growth in the E-commerce industry happened within just a few months. It hasn’t surprised us at all to see Shopify leading the charge, for both large retailers and small. 

Shopify has made it very easy for anyone to sell products online, providing all of the required infrastructures, from marketing to fulfilment, for a fairly low monthly price. Catering for all kinds of store owners, from the low-churn side-hustler to the crowdfunded startup, Shopify has a low barrier-to-entry for anyone that wants to set up a store. As an article in Forbes put it:

“It’s like getting a fully furnished retail store with trained sales clerks all for a few bucks. You just put your products on the shelves, hang a storefront sign, lean back, and watch sales come in.”

While it’s expected that E-commerce sales will slow down in 2021, as the restrictions ease and the high street can finally open its doors, many studies are reporting that nearly half of consumers expect to be shopping online just as much after the pandemic, suggesting that the changes to consumer behaviour will be permanent.

At KOTA, we’re looking forward to being part of it. 

 

How KOTA help online businesses grow.

We’ve recently launched a Shopify store built for an innovative pet food startup, Aardvark. They want to make pet ownership more sustainable by replacing meat with nutritionally balanced insect-based protein.

Aardvark founder Hugo understands the consumer’s need for convenience, transparency and sustainable packaging because he is his own target audience. The company was borne out of Hugo’s desire to feed his own cats Cocoa and Bella sustainably sourced pet food:

“Cats are obligate carnivores meaning they couldn’t be fed a plant-based diet. I was shocked to find the world’s 500 million dogs and cats eat 20% of the planet’s meat. […] Our pet’s consumption of meat produces 64 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and methane in the US alone – that’s the equivalent environmental impact of 13.6 million cars! So, at Aardvark we set out on a mission to reinvent pet food.“

Hundreds of enthusiastic investors backed Aardvark’s crowdfunding campaign, showing that there’s a great need for an eco revolution in the pet food industry!

Reasons to hire an agency to build a Shopify store.

Aardvark’s choice to use Shopify for their online store allows them to offer their customers a seamless Aardvark-branded experience right from launch. With marketing integrations, analytics and subscription features baked into the platform, Hugo and his team have all the tools they need to start selling their products, and plenty of room to grow. 

By hiring KOTA, Aardvark were able to fully customise their storefront, far beyond what a template can achieve. Here’s what we did:

  • Bespoke design:  we crafted new bespoke layouts and blocks to add something a little different to the usual online shopping experience
  • Fully customised experience: we customised the styles of several third-party apps which provide additional functionality, including product reviews and subscriptions
  • Increased page loading speed: We removed unused functionality and code, and rewrote some older, less efficient code, to increase the page loading speed
  • Beautiful animations: We brought the design to life with custom animations and transitions

Click here to see Aardvark’s case study.

 

Conclusions.

Despite the further easing of covid restrictions is well within our sights, it’s clear that online shopping is very much here to stay. It may slow a little, as physical stores continue to reopen, but retailers are already looking ahead to 2022 and ensuring they are doing all they can to remain competitive in the online marketplace. 

Whether you’re new to E-commerce or looking at ways to increase your revenue, get in touch to find out how we can help you build a fully customised storefront!


Interested in working with us? Call the KOTA studio on +44(0)20 3951 0562.

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