There can be little doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the underlying, pre-2020 trend, of growth in the online retail sector.
The proportion spent online in March 2021 was 34.7% compared with 23.1% reported in March 2020.
These are the statistics produced by the Office of National Statistics and show the importance of online shopping in March 2021.
|Yr on Yr
% of all retail
NB These figures may well be inflated because of the pandemic lockdowns but the trend is there, and it is unlikely to be reversed.
Consequently, there are important issues that must be addressed:
Retail businesses now have two distinct sets of customers, those who prefer to buy in the store and those who shop online. This needs to read that despite having 2 channels for a number of years, the loss of Arcadia, Debenhams has significantly reduced store-based purchase and increased online as brands have been acquired by ASOS and Boo Hoo
Distribution centres need to achieve the rapid turnaround and delivery times that have come to be expected of online shopping.
Let’s take a couple of examples to make the point:
The shopper is more and more used to searching online to find the day-to-day clothing they want, clicking a button and expecting delivery within 24/48 to 72 hours.
If that same shopper goes to purchase something that is made to measure, they should and will expect the same sort of delivery time.
A young woman likes buying online for her casual clothes.
However, if she is going to a special event she will want to shop at a physical outlet because then she can try clothes on.
If she finds the item she wants, but her size is not in stock, she will now expect to be able to order it and have it delivered within 24/48 hours.
The Effect of the pandemic
Businesses may have both retail channels, online as well as physical outlets and will need to up their supply and delivery game to provide the delivery service that the customer has come to expect post-Covid of both channels.
High street shopping is moribund, out of town shopping is stable and on-line shopping is growing rapidly.
The outcome of that is that short delivery times are becoming more and more important.
This means that ordering systems, picking and packing and distribution need to be automated and linked so that the business can keep up with the demand for rapid delivery of smaller line item orders.
Probably, just as important is, being able to keep up with the delivery speed of the competition.
The Logistics Improvement Group have been helping companies achieve these goals for over 40 years. If you are looking for help in this area just call – 01908 474 929.