OPINION: A new retail terrain – The immense global shift to online shopping

Government restrictions coupled with customer caution witnessed 2020 truly become a year for online shopping, as consumers made the shift on an immense, global scale. As consumers grow increasingly comfortable with the digital high street, that trend is set only to continue further.

But, suggests OnBuy founder, Cas Paton, that doesn’t mean independent retailers need to be left behind. The UK retail entrepreneur talks us through why building an online operation has become crucial for survival.

The switch to online shopping since COVID-19 began has been immense on a global scale. Government restrictions, together with consumer caution, accelerated the online shift and impacted in-store selling for many retailers. With a third lockdown now in place, this is set to continue into 2021.

Retailers that are hesitant to start selling online could be left behind this year as 2021 is going to be even bigger for the eCommerce industry. While the high street is sure to recover and continue evolving when restrictions are lifted, if retailers don’t implement an online selling strategy – whether via their own eCommerce platform or through a trusted online marketplace like OnBuy – they may find themselves outpaced by their competitors.

We’re gearing up to launch into 42 countries early this year as part of our globalisation plans, which will undoubtedly play a part in supporting a boom in the eCommerce industry while continuing the impressive 600 per cent year-on-year growth we’ve achieved over the last three years in a row. 

Selling via online platforms like OnBuy – where we support our sellers rather than competing against them – will allow retailers to quickly maximise on the increasing online shopping trend. OnBuy has invested in connectivity solutions to allow all retailers, particularly those who haven’t tried selling online before, to engage in eCommerce more easily. Partnerships with firms such as ChannelAdvisor and Linnworks that enable sellers to manage stock, prices, and orders seamlessly, and Royal Mail Click & Drop, the online postage and label solution, mean sellers can tap into the huge market of online retailing without the barriers commonly associated with doing so.

As eCommerce continues to grow, so does the demand placed on delivery and fulfilment providers. The sector faced immense pressure during 2020, having had an exceptionally busy year topped off with even higher order volumes during Q4.

To give retailers access to a one-stop-shop, OnBuy is responding with the OnBuy Fulfilment Network during 2021 that collates the best and most agile carriers and providers around – all while ensuring customers feel confident in receiving their purchases safely and on time.

So, for 2021, moving to eCommerce – and especially selling through a trusted marketplace like OnBuy – should be a priority for all retailers as online shopping is set to further thrive throughout and beyond 2021.

Cas Paton is the founder and entrepreneur behind OnBuy, the UK-based online marketplace that has established itself as the rival to online giants Amazon and eBay.

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