The Final Online Shift

By Meghan Burton
20th October 2020

Since the onset of Covid-19 in the UK, our lives have been full of uncertainty. Who can we see? Where can we go? What can we do? Our quest to keep ourselves safe has shrunk many of our worlds down to our houses. Amidst the big life-altering questions we are facing, our computers and phones have become a lifeline, connecting us to work, friends and family in a way that most of us have never before experienced.

What our computers – and our presence at home – have also enabled us to do is to continue purchasing the products we need to survive (and, perhaps, those products we just want to occupy ourselves as well). Over the course of my career in digital marketing so far, I have never ceased to be amazed by how many people still buy in store, but Covid meant that buying in store became impossible in many industries.

It also put massive pressure on those which were already set up to deliver but couldn’t cope with the demand. For example, I’d received a weekly veg box delivery pre-Covid. Though my box was always delivered, its contents and the additional items I could purchase changed rapidly as the company struggled to cope with an influx of new subscribers and incredible demand from existing ones.

While that service has since recovered and grocery slots have become more widespread, I started wondering: is this the final push that many needed to boost ecommerce and persuade everyone that online shopping is for them?

Well, probably, yes, in the UK. Econsultancy has reported a jump in the share of online sales from 2019 to 2020 of nearly 6%.

Although they forecast a slight shift downwards in 2021, post pandemic as stores reopen, in reality many consumers have discovered that they can buy more online than they thought. And, secondly, plenty of online businesses have started up – 85,000 during the UK lockdown alone.

The internet has given many small businesses an essential lifeline as their usual methods of making money have completely dried up.

It’s not all positive for online though; online scams are on the rise which can mean a smaller segment of the populace feels left out and frightened by this significant change. This can easily be avoided if some small precautions are taken and your site is trustworthy.

How can you ensure your brand is taking as much advantage of the shift as possible while not driving away concerned consumers?

1.Focus on trust signals. This goes for both an initial feel – are you prioritising reviews? Do you have testimonials? Do you look like a UK business or storefront? – and a deeper dive through your checkout process. Especially if you are running a small, very busy business, with a million and one things to do every day, it can be easy to miss things like insecure images on secure pages. Even this can indicate to Google and consumers that you are not as trustworthy as you should be.

2.Focus on UX & ease of use. Everyone is now online and, with physical channels temporarily diminished, online consumers have the luxury of choice. Rather than powering through frustration points, they’ll simply choose the easiest option. It’s sensible to prepare and make sure that is your website. A usable, speedy website will continue to pay dividends post-Covid too.

3.Though it seems obvious, step up your digital marketing. Increased investment from your competition online may mean that your performance slips, even as traffic overall may be rising. You should review your previous performance, understand what worked, and focus on areas of opportunity now; remember that the landscape has changed significantly so data from a year or two ago may not be as useful to you as data from the last lockdown.

4.Don’t forget offline remains an option. If you can safely do local, now is a great time for door drops backed up by a thorough approach to Google My Business and local pages. This combination of online and offline will mean that any prospective business is easily able to convert and find out more. Travelling far from home has become inadvisable for many so a quick local option may simply prevent them from looking elsewhere online in the first place.

Although Covid has temporarily closed many doors, this is one that has opened further, permanently. Take advantage now to ensure you can continue to experience benefits beyond the vaccine.


Meghan is Wolfenden's Operations Director, working across our production teams to maintain our high standards of work whilst playing a pivotal role in setting the multichannel strategies for some of our biggest clients.

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