It’s officially been one year since the announcement of the national Lockdown here in the UK. I think it's safe to say that for all of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has been and probably will be the most testing and challenging time, whether that be from a business or personal point of view.
The Coronavirus pandemic significantly changed the way businesses, especially the smaller ones had to operate to reach their customers, due to the fact so many not just in the UK but worldwide were forced to close their doors overnight.
As a result of these instant closures, companies had to quickly come up with a solution and were forced to adapt and shift their activities to the online sphere. With the likes of online businesses already being a crowded place suddenly the competition reached a new high.
The pandemic completely changes the way consumers thought about making purchases. Even though essential shops such as supermarkets and health stores were able to remain open, many were still opting to buy online wherever possible.
The UK is the world's third-largest market when it comes to the eCommerce space as a substantial number have invested heavily in their technology since the lockdown restrictions started. A third of retailers upgraded their websites and started accepting new payment methods and it has also been reported that one in four businesses have started to embrace data analytics for the first time.
All of this meant having an effective website wasn't just a nice thing to have but more of a necessity to stay afloat.
Effective website design serves multiple purposes for small businesses alike who were hoping to survive the pandemic which meant having a fast, functional, and easy to use website was now vital.
In pre-pandemic times, a website for your business may have simply been there to just complement other forms of brand representation but now it’s more than likely the primary medium through which your brand reaches customers, along with possibly the aid of social media.
Consumer habits and expectations also altered, many consumers increased their online shopping activity since the early days of the outbreaks and therefore expected companies to accommodate their changing habits.
This meant that building and maintaining a user-friendly website was suddenly at the forefront of every business's minds. For a company that needed to swiftly get into the online space they needed a website and they needed it fast. For those who have a website but never really updated it or used it to just have an online presence, all their efforts had to switch to competing in the online space making the world of eCommerce grow...fast!
It’s clear that all businesses whether big or small have had to adapt to this new stage in the digital era, and even though there is a roadmap in place for things to get back to "normal", what’s already occurred over the last 12 months may have forever altered the way we communicate, shop and get information.
So for any online business, especially those new to the digital space here are some suggestions and tips on how to stay competitive in an already crowded online world.
Even before lockdown, the high street was already a dying trade. While the relaxation of the restrictions could see the high street come back to life with people missing being able to shop in real life there is no way of knowing how physical retail will react coming back from the pandemic.
So, if you can offer eCommerce solutions it's probably going to be a highly good move. With so many leading platforms such as Ucommerce for your Umbraco website (which we highly recommend), Shopify, and WooCommerce to name a few. It's never too late to jump on the eCommerce bandwagon.
Many businesses are new to the digital scene so having a well-thought-out plan is one of the very best ways to introduce strategies such as online marketing and the type of content you put on your site to help achieve maximum results. We have previously written a post on just why your website content is vital which you can read here.
Adapt to your consumers changing’ needs. Yes, it's a bit of a challenge as you need to be one step ahead of current trends. But with the right marketing strategies in place, keeping your website updated and secure is the best thing you can be doing right now. While it’s very easy to come up with crazy plans for your site and wanting to try everything out if you’re new to the digital bubble, keep things simple but heavily efficient for your users is going to be your solution.
These are still highly uncertain times. So, business owners everywhere are facing immense pressure to adapt at every turn, pretty much daily. Here at Cold Banana, we have witnessed major spikes for certain industries and some websites just haven't been able to cope with demand.
Being able to rely on an agency like us to support your website, especially if you aren't tech-savvy, will help lift a weight off your shoulder. Being able to focus on how to reach your clients, implement new marketing efforts and work on website content should be your main focus here and not worrying about the technical side of things. That’s exactly what we are here for.
While it’s safe to say that the last 12 months have been something we will probably never forget, the pandemic will continue to raise questions about how we live, work and run businesses and what will everyday life look like on the other side?
While we don’t know the answers to a lot of these questions, what we do know is that technology is very much on our side to help companies keep on growing no matter what gets thrown our way.