The implementation of state-wide lockdowns and mandatory social distancing norms in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on different sectors of the economy. Retail is one of the many sectors that have been affected. According to e-commerce specialist Barrett Shepherd, this period will see a shift in trends for e-commerce services across the board. In this interview, we seek Barrett insights on the matter.
Barrett, could you tell us more about your business, and how you adapted to the changes that came with COVID-19?
As founder of Simpl Fulfillment - an e-commerce fulfillment company in Austin, Texas, Barrett Shepherd's team helps brands outsource their shipping and streamline and automate operations. With an increasing number of people choosing to self-quarantine or limit movement, there is a rapid increase in the consumption of online services and facilities. While the surge can pose challenges to supply chains and order management systems, these unusual times also hold great promise for businesses that can adapt to these new trends in e-commerce.
In your opinion, what trend stands out most to you amidst the pandemic?
One of the biggest trends emerging from these unusual times is the increased need for on-demand and to-the-door delivery services. E-commerce platforms that already have systems in place only need to scale up to meet the upsurge. With digital consumption increasing across the board, and the increasing fear of contracting the virus, shopping behaviors are shifting online from offline.
What is the secret to succeed as a business during these difficult times?
The key to survival for businesses is to use this downtime to tweak and modify the structure for innovative solutions to new challenges. The current health crisis has altered the way we live our lives and how consumers interact with businesses. Adaptability is the key to thrive during these confusing times and embracing digital platforms is an innovative, logical solution to a complex, unprecedented situation.
Do you have any advice for existing and new businesses?
It would be worthwhile for traditional brick and mortar establishments, especially to jump on the e-commerce bandwagon by partnering with third-party delivery service providers. For established brands, shifting to e-commerce ensures retention of a loyal customer base while also offering convenient access to a wider audience. New businesses can benefit by tapping into the large customer base that is now shifting towards online shopping, at least for the foreseeable future.
What should we expect in the near future and beyond?
While movement restrictions and bans will slowly be lifted across different locations, the reality is one where scores of buyers are turning online to fulfill their varied shopping needs, thereby creating new trends and consumption patterns. For many individuals, online shopping on e-commerce platforms will replace offline visits to stores for apparel, groceries, and entertainment, until the threat of the virus dissipates.