Retailers must compete for online trade as Covid restrictions tighten

Local retailers are moving online to compete with the ecommerce giants and save their Christmas trade, according to digital growth agency, Grofuse.


Amazon and other ecommerce sellers have done significantly well out of this pandemic, and in order to compete with the ecommerce giant and keep their customers, smaller retailers must be selling online, says Grofuse Director Ian Cullen.

Black Friday Belfast ecommerce

He adds: “Black Friday is just one week away and with Christmas fast approaching retailers can capitalise on increasing online demand to compensate for the decline in footfall. The trade of local retailers who are not already selling online is very likely to suffer as a result.”

UK retail sales volumes in October were 1.2% higher than September despite restrictions tightening again in many areas of the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The ONS revealed that sales have remained steady, having grown for the sixth consecutive month as online purchases continue to soar.

Local retailers move to incorporate selling online to survive

Store sales plummeted as sales declined by 3.3%, with shops in some regions severely affected by tightened restrictions. Meanwhile, food sales increased by 3.4% after another surge in online purchases. Statistics indicate that local retailers have no other choice than to apply the same tools and tactics in order to compete with Amazon’s success and survive.

Chief Executive of Retail NI, Glyn Roberts, said: “It is about survival for many businesses because we have a great fear that if they don’t trade reasonably well over Christmas, they just won’t be there come January.”

Glyn Roberts Retail NI

Glyn Roberts pictured in Belfast City Centre. Source from Belfast Live 

Mr Cullen continued: “Mr Roberts urged people to come out and support local in a justified call for help to recoup the dramatic loss of footfall. “We at Grofuse believe survival depends on adapting every tactic necessary, including embracing ecommerce during the golden quarter to safeguard businesses and jobs in these unprecedented times.”

Another issue to mitigate is the large influx of shoppers when non-essential retail will be permitted to reopen. Shops will have limited capacity to ensure secure and safe social distancing.

Consumer confidence may not return with shops reopening as many shoppers have become accustomed to buying online. Even when shops reopen, the concern of a high risk of transmission may deter shoppers from leaving the safety and comfort of their homes.

One fast and easy solution for many local retailers is the online ordering platform Mercury Order. The platform is different in that it is fully designed around the needs of smaller retailers and making shop local digital. It is very simple to set up and manage, and fast and easy for customers to use.

The benefits include:

  • Free to set up
  • Easily customise online store(s) with logo, colours, products etc.
  • Pay only per transaction 1.8% – 2.9% – lowest fee on market.
  • No need for website development – unlike with Shopify or other systems.
  • Customise delivery or click and collect slots.
  • No need for expensive bespoke software purchases.
  • Protect customers and staff.
  • Safeguard business in times when footfall drops.

Some have argued that online stores lack interpersonal relationships – however in a digital world, online relationships and touchpoints are equally important.

Request a free demo here to get your business selling online in time for Christmas with a free, same day set-up.

If you would prefer to speak with our team, please call: NI +44 28 7122 8820 ; UK +44 333 241 44 22; ROI +353 1 247 5294.