Since the beginning of COVID-19, experts have speculated on how lockdown regulations might impact people's shopping habits. The burning question was whether the sudden shift towards e-commerce will continue in a post-pandemic environment, or whether shoppers will fall back on old habits and rush for an in-store shopping experience.
Most businesses were forced into this e-shopping experiment, and while it’s still too early to draw any certain conclusions, it’s obvious that COVID-19 has accelerated digital shopping by at least 5 years. That means that even tech-fearing consumers were forced to rely on technology to work, shop and entertain themselves, which resulted in a staggering rise of digital retail sales, jumping from 16% to 19% in 2020. Given that, it’s hardly surprising that headphones, laptops, desktop computers/game consoles, flatscreen TVs and tablets basically sold themselves in 2020. According to a UNCTAD report, South Korean digital sales jumped from 20.8% in 2019 to 25.9% in 2020, with China being not far away (20.7% to 24.9%), the United States climbing up to 14% from 11%, and the UK witnessing a surge from 15.8% to 23.3%.
A PostNord survey also revealed a dramatic interest in e-commerce during the pandemic in Europe. The report showed the percentage of respondents who shopped online more often due to COVID-19, with countries like Spain (44%), Belgium (41%), Italy (37%), Netherlands (33%) and Poland (33%) sharing the highest numbers. Pretty much every global economy has experienced a rise in e-commerce popularity, and it’s not about to stop right there, as new research shows that digital revenue will continue to grow, possibly reaching up to 22,3% by 2023. The mass exodus into e-commerce gave people the opportunity to reevaluate shopping priorities and question brand loyalty, as many people began questioning how household names treat clients, and especially how they’re treating workers and the environment. We’re not claiming that people shunned companies like Amazon or Google because big corporations actually won the pandemic race for wealth; so nobody’s boycotting the so-called corporate establishment anytime soon.
On the other hand, throughout 2020 there was a major attitude shift towards small businesses, meaning that people became interested in locally-sourced goods and cheaper alternatives, also paying more attention to product quality and warranty terms. Brand loyalty suddenly became a little fragile, which is reflected in a GWI report claiming that 74% of their European respondents expected brands to be reliable.
Redistribution of wealth, lack of goods and logistical obstacles is what led people to giving local vendors a shot. Couple that with an increased demand for electronics, and you have loads of customers ordering smart tech from relatively obscure companies. Why? Well, first of all, these vendors often have stacked warehouses with ready-to-deliver goods, which is a huge advantage considering that big retailers can force you to wait 2 weeks for a delivery during Christmas. Actually, that’s one of Mobile Center’s strongest assets because we’ve worked out a system that guarantees timely delivery even during the holiday season; a result of good relations with our electronics suppliers. As a small company, we’ve also taken time to improve our eSTAR goods based on the changing environment, hence why now we’re able to offer affordable consumer electronics.
We feel like hard times have given us a chance to reinvent and reconnect with our customers in more meaningful ways. 2020 showed that people are keen to support local businesses that can deliver quality goods in a timely manner, especially if you’re in dire need of electronics. Let’s face it, during the pandemic having a smooth-running laptop or a pair of good headphones often felt like a life-and-death necessity; and small retailers proved that they have the capacity to overcome obstacles even during trying times.