What Will E-Commerce Look Like in A Post-COVID World?

2020 was the year that no one expected. The world shut down, businesses closed, and many struggled to survive. For some in the e-commerce industry, however, business was booming, and many physical businesses moved their operations online.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, we are moving that bit closer to what life will be like in a post-COVID world. Here, AgeChecked looks at what e-commerce will look like over the next few years.

A Shift in Online Buying Trends

According to data from IBM’s U.S Retail Index, COVID-19 caused a large shift away from physical shopping to online purchases. This shift has been accelerated by approximately 5 years with a large boom in online sales during 2020.

This report also suggested that the pandemic refined which goods categories are now essential as people were asked to only leave their home for this reason. Some of the categories that boomed as a result of being deemed ‘essential’ include groceries, home improvement and alcohol. Interestingly, clothing declined in importance.

Additionally, online retailer Amazon which sells a wide range of products benefited greatly from the COVID-19 pandemic. The demand for online products allowed Amazon to experience a 40% sales growth this year.

An Increased Number of Online Only Stores

One of the trends that we expect to continue in a post-COVID world is the increase in the number of online only stores. E-commerce only stores existed long before the pandemic but with more businesses forced to shut their physical stores as a result of UK-wide lockdowns, many are expected to remain online only.

According to Oberlo at the beginning of 2020, 1.8 billion people worldwide purchased goods online. This statistic has only increased since then with many forced to disrupt their usual shopping habits. As the pandemic goes on, more businesses will become uncertain about the future of physical stores and so are more likely to switch over their entire business to an e-commerce platform.

More innovation in e-commerce

With more brands focusing on e-commerce in a post-COVID world, we also expect to see a lot more competition in this area. Innovation is always important in e-commerce as some of the world’s biggest brands try to secure new customers and retain existing customers. Over the next few years, we could see brands moving from platforms like Shopify or eBay to custom-built platforms, giving customers a tailored experience. Additionally, we could even see some app development to allow for push notifications and a complete e-commerce experience.

The introduction of augmented reality and potentially even VR for online sales is a possibility. Retailers will need to innovate if they get rid of physical stores altogether.

Will There Be More Regulation?

Finally, we expect there to be stricter regulations in place when it comes to selling age-restricted products in a post-COVID world. There are already regulations in place for the sale of alcohol, vaping products, and knives online but how much are these sales monitored?

The COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in online alcohol sales in 2020. Back in May, AgeChecked reported that off-license sales of alcohol online were worth 22% of all sales. With so many people buying alcohol online, the risk of minors purchasing these products increased.

If this were to continue in a post-COVID world, we would expect the government to look into the age verification processes carried out by online retailers. Often, age verification at the point of delivery isn’t enough.

Get in Touch with AgeChecked

It is expected that the year ahead will continue to bring many changes for the e-commerce industry. AgeChecked is ready to help any online retailers ensure complete compliance through our secure age verification solutions.  Offering a range of cost-effective products to suit your business, from full API integration to a non-integrated batch upload service, AgeChecked can help protect your business. Plus knowing that AgeChecked offers a Co-ordinated Partnership scheme gives retailers added assurance that they will be protected.

To find out more about how AgeChecked can help your business please contact us.

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