Whether you have a brick and mortar store that needs an eCommerce website or are looking to start your business from scratch, it’s about time you created an online presence. If you have an original product idea or a unique business plan, this can be the moment you turn it into a reality. But when’s the right time to get started on this project? The answer: Now.

COVID-19 has led to economic unrest as the markets shift and consumer needs change. Despite this, and perhaps because of this, now can be a great opportunity to start your business.

Here are 3 reasons why it’s a great time to start your online store:

  1. Online sales are through the roof
  2. Technology gives you more control than ever
  3. New business opportunities are emerging

1. Online sales are through the roof

The world had been slowly moving online for a while now. Even before COVID-19, online shopping was becoming the new normal. But since the pandemic, the market has blown up and the movement online has accelerated exponentially.

Millions of shoppers around the world are staying home to reduce the spread of the disease, so they had to find new ways to get what they needed. Merchants also had to come up with new ways to market their products without in-store visitors. By and large, both shoppers and shops have moved online.

The following 3 stats highlight some of the biggest changes that took place in the eCommerce market during COVID-19:

In May, online spending increased by 77% year over year and increased 17% from April.

To put these numbers into perspective, last holiday season saw a growth of 13% YoY. While U.S. shoppers spent $122 billion in 2018, the number rose to a total of $138.65 billion in 2019. That means that if the trends continue and this upcoming holiday season sees a 77% increase from 2019, there’ll be close to $250 billion in sales.

If numbers aren’t your thing and your eyes glossed over that whole paragraph, then here’s the most important takeaway: there’s a clear online sales boom. Not a blip on a radar, but a real, significant change.

Some might argue that these numbers won’t stay this high. Perhaps these eCommerce shoppers won’t continue to shop online once the pandemic ends. But the changes will take longer to wear off than anyone may think, if they wear off at all. Many people say it’ll take at least 6 months after the pandemic until they’ll feel comfortable shopping in public malls. Others say they won’t return to brick-and-mortar stores until a vaccine is available.

This much is clear: Shoppers are creating and reinforcing eCommerce habits that’ll last.

What does this mean for you?

The eCommerce market is large, open and growing rapidly. Online businesses have a huge opportunity to excel in this climate.

Nearly half (44%) of consumers tried new brands during COVID-19.

Because many suppliers’ services were limited, customers were pushed to branch out to new brands. Millennials were especially keen to try new businesses, with 56% of them saying they had done so during COVID-19.

This moment creates an opening for newer, smaller or lesser-known brands. And when first-time shoppers visit these eCommerce sites in search of a product, the service they receive could convert them into loyal customers. In fact, of those who tried new online stores during COVID-19, 45% said they’d continue buying there.

Customers aren’t just leaving small brands. When Amazon delayed shipments of all non-essential goods, customers moved to other online marketplaces. Overall, 28% of customers said they shopped elsewhere during that period—including 39% of millennials.

What does this mean for you?

Shoppers, especially millennials, are more open than ever to trying new brands. To bring them in, create a store that solves pain points or provides a crucial service. Let them get to know and fall in love with your business.

Brands who heavily focused on marketing during COVID-19 grew 70% YoY.

With potential customers staying home worldwide, many have pivoted their marketing placements from highway billboards to well-strategized social media campaigns and SEO-optimized web content.

People are spending significantly more time online and on social media in 2020 than ever before. Businesses who tapped into this trend and increased their social media marketing during COVID-19 saw unprecedented growth. By doubling down on direct-to-consumer marketing, businesses were able to drive sales and increase revenue.

What does this mean for you?

With stores and shoppers moving online, the playing field is leveling. You don’t need to rent a storefront on a main street and pay exorbitant rent. Reach your target audience by doing your research about SEO and social media marketing.

By SEO optimizing your online store, you can find new customers from around the world. You can also use SEO tools, like Google Trends, to discover what people are searching for and stay on top of the market trends.

2. Technology gives you more control than ever

The world is literally at our fingertips. Instead of flying across the world to meet manufacturers, you can find lists of production companies online and receive quotes via email. You can gain insights from marketing geniuses across the country from blogs or YouTube. In seconds, you can respond to customer inquiries using chat or create winning promotions on social media. And you can do all this without even putting on pants.

Here are some of the ways that technology has given you more control of your business:

You can create your eCommerce site on your own.

If you have a few hours over the weekend, you can start an online store yourself and begin selling in no time. This step doesn’t require any coding knowledge and the full extent of tools available by eCommerce platforms empowers you to grow your business online.

Use an online store template to get your eCommerce site started. Then edit it for your business and your marketing plan. Include the professional features you'll need to optimize your site for sales and get found by shoppers.

How This Clothing Gallery Evolved Online | Wix Best Sellers
Check out how Evolve increased sales during COVID-19 and became an eCommerce success story. Plus, get inspiration to pivot your brick-and-mortar store online.

Check out how this boutique owner in New Jersey moved online in a week and increased his sales.

You can avoid initial investments, managing inventory and fulfillment hassles.

When it comes to finding or supplementing your product inventory, you can integrate a dropshipping platform to your site and source products to sell. This method removes much of the initial investments and the hassles of inventory management and fulfillment.

Sell t-shirts, furniture or anything else you can think of, without worrying about a place to store it. Add print on demand products to sport your own designs, brand or logo and integrate a dropshipping service with your site to sell suppliers’ products on your store.

You can manage your business from your phone.

It’s not just getting your online store started that’s easier than ever. You can now run your business and turn it into a success with a spectrum of digital tools that’s never been wider.

From your phone, you can use social media marketing to find new potential customers—from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. You can update your product photos and descriptions. You can even integrate your store with your eCommerce platform’s mobile app to scan your product barcodes, print packing slips and receive notifications when your stock is low. Then, you can place orders with your vendors via email or on their website.

This freedom lets you run your business from the ski slopes, Fiji—or even on lockdown in your home.

3. New business opportunities are emerging

The world is transitioning—quickly. And with all of this change comes a host of new business opportunities. Some markets are just beginning to be tapped into and others are still waiting to be discovered.

In 2020, businesses that thought they were unbreakable hit snags, while previously under-appreciated products have sold out in high demand. At this chaotic moment in history there are countless opportunities to capitalize on. Your task is to find and sell the niche product that shoppers need right now.

A Wix growth report found many fascinating trends in the eCommerce market based on the over 500,000 businesses using their platform. Here are some of the main takeaways:

  • Food and beverage sales rose 605% from January to April.
  • Home and garden supplies sales rose by 330%.
  • Pet care product sales increased by 327%.

As people remain at home, their needs are changing. If they can’t visit the grocery store or visit their favorite restaurant, they’ll order in. If they’re staying home, they’ll want items that’ll make their space more comfortable and livable.

Learn from the market to provide shoppers with what they need now. Ask yourself: What other markets are just waiting to be tapped into? Once you find your answer, it's time to start your eCommerce journey.

Because if not now, when?

This is a guest post by Mendy Shlomo from Wix, where Mendy is the manager of Wix's eCommerce Blog. A journalism survivor, he's transitioned into the rich world of eCommerce, content marketing and SEO. His parents are thrilled.

Start your online store today
The longer you wait, the more sales you miss out on.