In collaboration with Oliver Warburton

What Now For Online Retailers As Lockdown Is Eased?


Even while the COVID-19 cases are on a downward trend, so is the British economy.

Over the last few weeks, the U.K. government has been easing commercial regulations, to regenerate markets and trade.

British shops that sell non-essential goods opened on 15 June, 2020three months since government mandates shuttered them.

Since that day, the volume of footfall at brick-and-mortar retail outlets naturally increased.

But the overall effect is still only at 30% to 80% of the previous year’s volume.

Why won’t physical shopping stabilize, back to its pre-COVID volumes?


Even though shops are opening, and businesses restarting, there are precautions to take.

The older demographic is still wary of venturing outdoors, due to higher death rates among the elderly.

The social consequences from this are complex.

Many older shoppers have to risk their lives in each trip to the local store.

In tandem, many younger and middle-aged people do the bulk of physical shopping for older family members, friends, and community.

Yet, even among the younger demographic, wariness will prevail, as they seek to reduce transmission rates.

As many of you already know, COVID-19 is one of the most transmissible coronaviruses. So the social attitude to keeping everyone as far as possible will continue, even though lockdown eases up.

In the place of physical shopping, online retail will continue to serve the populace.

Over the past decade, U.K. citizens have been conditioning themselves to using online retail, and the pandemic may have even increased its usage.

So, for the time being, online retail is still the answer. Its social significance has risen, and online retailers, such as myself, encourage ourselves to move forward on its beaten path.

What online retailers are looking for after the ease of lockdown
What online retailers are looking for after the ease of lockdown Photo by Luke Chesser

How Online Retailers Can Maintain Commerce

The idea is to adapt.

While the heavy losses in physical shoppers is discouraging to any business, there are ways to ensure that your customers find value in your online store.

Here are some ways that could help you maximize your sales and lead conversions:

1. Consolidate your eCommerce websites and content

While online shopping is now part and parcel of the modern experience, take the extra time to develop high-quality content on your websites.

Shoppers can no longer inspect the products they want to buy.

Being online reduces the ability to check for product defects and product advantages.

So you need to meet them halfway, within your online portal.

Try to elaborate on your product descriptions, hire better photographers and visual editors, and inform and entertain online visitors with product comparisons and reviews.

Blogging about the maintenance and usage of products, connecting with people with respect to their daily needs, these are all worthy additions to your eCommerce and web content in this time.

Also, let people know about your warehousing and logistics operations being virus-safe, through video and written content.

At my cookware company, Oliver’s Kitchen, our shipping and delivery teams have been well prepared to combat the spread of the virus.

Another idea is to extol the virtues of cashless transactions in this time. Since the virus spreads through surfaces (such as paper money), online cashless transactions are promotable.

Good online content is one way to ensure that your business model becomes more online reliant, and future proof from outlier events such as a global pandemic.

2. Sell Goods That Are Hard To Procure Physically

What is becoming increasingly clear is the reduction in sales of non-essential goods and services.

As it goes in any time period that is fraught with external danger, people minimize risks and compromise on personal comfort and luxury.

Consumers are recognizing the social responsibility in abstaining from goods that aren’t entirely necessary while living indoors.

Also, due to the population suffering lower disposable incomes and job insecurity over the past three months of economic downfall, they’re trying to save money and spend on essentials only, such as food.

Volume sales of clothing, household goods, and other non-food sectors have all fallen since March, and while they rose due to governmental relaxations in May, they are still far below their year-on-year volumes.

Only food and department stores, which as essentials, have seen a year-on-year increase upon May 2019.

But this doesn’t mean that we should ignore non-essential goods entirely. On the contrary – now that they are being left out due to financial shortage and social distancing, try to maximize their sales on online portals.

Follow Step 1 to make its usability more attractive to customers. Dip into video content to extol the functionality of the many non-essential products you sell.

3. Subscription-Styled eCommerce Model

Services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix leverage this model with great success.

Since consumers are now less likely to buy goods on impulse due to financial instability, try to retain them in monthly subscriptions that require small incremental purchases, rather than one big one.

This will make your business model immune to sudden impulses of shoppers. Sometimes, a customer can abandon a product or brand for another.

A subscription-styled model prevents this by ensuring they make a thoughtful decision over a significant period, with perks of membership and customer loyalty programs added to it.

Customers are given more attention, and get continuous access to products, which, in turn, ensures their loyalty and a steady revenue stream.

These 3 strategies will help you maximize online retail.

Take Heart From The Small Advantages

At this time, it is my feeling that British small and medium businesses need all the solidarity they can get.

As long as businesses out there see the small advantages, especially since the government easements, they need to take courage, and stick to these tried and tested online strategies.

It won’t be long before the economy gradually pulls itself up.

Stay the path.


Oliver Warburton

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