New Face of Ukrainian E-Commerce Market: What Changes 2020 Has Caused
Alexander Storozhuk, Internet entrepreneur, founder of the PRNEWS.IO online service
2020 has been a year of challenges and emergencies for humanity. The previously obscure term "lockdown" officially received the title of this year's most popular word.
Unable to map out activities for a long period, businesses have abandoned long-term strategies. The skill to react and adapt here and now is referred to as "situational marketing". The pandemic has taught us to complement our plans A and B with a plan C.
Today, the domain of e-commerce is among the least affected by quarantine restrictions on the markets. Yet we cannot say it has survived the lockdown only with minimal losses. This is evidenced by the experience of companies and their executives, with whom our online platform PRNEWS.IO co-operates.
Let us consider what difficulties those dealing with e-commerce have faced, what changes have occurred in working algorithms, and what predictions experts and market players have for 2021.
I am sure their experience will be of use not only for their counterparts but also for companies from other industries. All of them became involuntary participants of the next wave of quarantine restrictions, with one more barely predictable year ahead of us.
Remote Work and Desocialization
As the pandemic broke out, e-commerce companies, indeed, found themselves in a better position compared to offline businesses. They were able to transfer their work processes to remote locations more quickly and without losses in quality, organized working spaces at home, and established mandatory calls and meetings in Zoom.
However, as the outcome of the first lockdown shows, despite the professionalism and preparations for digitalization, most of the employees started over time to experience discomfort, reduced concentration, and such like. Experts consider these mental effects a by-product of working remotely and have even coined a term for it, namely "desocialization".
On the one hand, the year 2020 has forced Ukrainian businesses to make a quantum leap towards digitalization (I have written about it previously) and thus significantly accelerated the processes which could drag out for another 10-20 years in our country. This is a huge benefit.
On the other hand though, if even employees of e-commerce companies feel discomfort owing to the lack of live communication and contact with colleagues, what can await those who faced the remote work mode as an absolute novelty?
Market Development and Struggle for Survival
As testified by the experience of our e-commerce colleagues, most of them have been planning their work processes more thoroughly since this spring.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, while still working in the office, companies allowed for more free time (time for possible force majeure) by increasing the number of hours per task. During the lockdown period, however, companies had to reduce this amount of time and redistribute it in favor of establishing and strengthening communications. The majority of businesses continue to operate in this mode as of today and, to all appearances, will do so for the foreseeable future.
As practice has shown, productive work in remote mode does not require reinventing the wheel. Specialists recommend using a minimal package of products: the Jira system, the Jira calendar, and Google Docs will suffice for both process planning and functionality.
Strict Planning of Working Processes
Any way you slice it, this year rendered the digital transformation of business a vital necessity for all domains, forms, and scopes of enterprises. Those who failed to adapt in time or provided non-digital services disappeared from the market in the first lockdown.
It was the companies that were the first to launch this digital transformation that won, with the greatest success achieved by those solutions that qualitatively optimize key e-commerce indicators.
The recent months have witnessed a genuine boom in the development of various analytics and CRM systems. This is but natural: the demand for goods and services has decreased significantly, and market participants have become more organized and aggressive in terms of their marketing. It is those companies that are already making money as of today, reducing production costs, and deriving the maximum profit from each invested hryvnia, that will prosper.
Market Development and Struggle for Survival
On the one hand, heads of Ukrainian e-commerce companies give positive predictions for 2021. This is due to global internationalization, the switch to online shopping, and the increasing popularity of online stores and marketplaces. Therefore, service speed and quality (in all respects) have become the makers or breakers of companies in the struggle for customers.
On the other hand, if the second lockdown or "weekend quarantine" proves to be longer than the first one, another percentage of small businesses are bound to close. And this percentage is a huge and most curios segment for the market since it is small businesses that are the key trailblazers inventing unconventional ideas, approaches, and solutions owing to their limited financial resources to promote products and services.