COVID-19 has brought with it a lot of changes. One of these was the change in global markets and consumer behaviour. Online shopping has become the norm for many and there has been a worldwide rise in home-based businesses and marketplace websites.
It was almost instantly that offline purchases moved online and businesses had to rapidly adjust to the change. According to a study done by Visa, 64% of South Africans bought groceries online for the first time because of the Coronavirus outbreak. 53% made their first online purchases from pharmacies. According to the report, The Online Retail Industry in South Africa 2020, that has been published on ResearchAndMarkets.com, international forecasts indicate that there might be a 100% year-on-year increase in online retail sales. It also shows that many businesses that have not previously been online, have had to make time and space for the e-commerce facet in their business.
Lockdown pushed many companies and people to become creative and turn what was always an offline business to online business. Artists and big events like concerts and music festivals were among the first to adapt. Creatives started to sell their skills online with innovative online courses, online art exhibitions and more. Gyms and yoga studios went online and completely reinvented the wheel with online classes that were either pre-recorded or streamed live.
The wonderful thing about being online is the fact that your audience is immediately broadened to not only South Africa, but the world. It also allows you to reach a different target audience – people who would, for instance, not go to a gym due to personal issues, might now be interested in joining in on one of the online classes.
Although IT and telecommunications are two popular occupations that run from home, home-based businesses stretch across a wide range of sectors in the economy and with people having seen what can be done from home during lockdown, even more home-based businesses are expected to evolve.
- Even though online shopping is convenient, there are still a few glitches. People get charged for items that don’t get delivered and deliveries often arrive after dark, which is a security risk. If your brand can fill these gaps, you’re one step ahead.
- Larger consumer brands have had to deal with an explosion in demand. SMEs that offer the same products and can deliver sooner, might also have seen customers migrate from larger brands to theirs.
- South Africa is not where it should be when it comes to e-commerce. There is still a lot of ground to cover to make e-commerce accessible to the majority of South Africans. There is, however, room for a digital consumer renaissance after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Robin Fisher, Senior Area Vice President of Salesforce Emerging Markets.
According to research done by MyBroadband, these are some of the products that are the most popular among customers. It is clear that most items have a direct link to making living and working at home as comfortable as possible – which is something to consider when starting an online shop today:
- Personal protective equipment (masks, sanitisers, gloves, etc.)
- Essential foods
- Sports and fitness related products
- Baby products
- Computers, electronics and anything else that might be relevant to a home office
- Wearable tech
- Puzzles and toys
- Arts and crafts
The perks of a homebased business:
- No need for a suit and tie
- You save on transport costs and possibly also on fast food and take-away cappuccinos
- No office to let, so with that too, running a business becomes a whole lot cheaper
- Technology’s on your side with various work planners, online chat options and more
- It becomes a lifestyle with the option to have a flexible work-life balance
- No traffic
- More time for your family
- Less sick days (you don’t have to sit in a tele-sales office and catch someone else’s bug every second month)
The challenges of a home-based business:
- You need to practice a lot of discipline when it comes to working hours. You never know when to stop.
- There is no informal personal interaction with fellow employees (something that many people seem to be missing) and this could result in mental health issues.