E-commerce & The “New Normal”

Rob Holthause

November 2, 2020

If you were to ask anyone who works in eCommerce when the right time for a business to start selling online would be, they’d almost universally answer “years ago.” Yet you might be surprised to learn that almost half of US small businesses do not have a website. That article linked in the previous sentence was written in early March of this year – I shudder to think what has become of those businesses in the 7 months since, during the “new normal” of COVID.

Pre-COVID, not having a website was understandable. Not a good idea, but excusable. Websites are expensive, and businesses (especially small ones) need quick ROI to pay employees and keep lights on. An eCommerce strategy is good for the long-term, but many mom & pops can’t afford to think that way. That’s simply not the case anymore, as lockdowns and social distancing severely limit how customers can shop, and people stuck at home are now more likely to make purchases online.

In-store shopping in the new normal

Brick & mortar stores aren’t going away, and they almost certainly never will. People like being out and about, picking our products in person, trying things on before buying, etc. But it’s unknown when stores will be fully back to normal, and with no vaccine, no nationwide plan, and the colder months already driving up case numbers, it’s unlikely that that will happen any time soon. In-store numbers will continue to decline and eCommerce will pick up that slack, hurting businesses that don’t have a plan.

It’s not all doom and gloom

If there’s a silver lining here (and I think there is,) it’s that this pandemic has galvanized people to work together, and forced a tremendous amount of innovation in a very short period of time. eCommerce platforms like Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, etc, are all reporting more sites and more revenue on their platforms. Tons of really great people in the industry, like our friends at ShipperHQ, spearheaded efforts to organize eCommerce pros and put together quick start programs – getting small businesses selling online quickly and affordably.

So… what happens now?

COVID-19 didn’t start the massive push by brands to focus on their online sales, but it most certainly did accelerate the hell out of it. As we continue to deal with this pandemic, and as this new normal forces consumers to consider potential future viruses or catastrophes, expect eCommerce growth and innovation to continue at breakneck speed.


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