COVID-19 resources

The Rise of eCommerce Report

Alise Bailey, Editor
Square

In the wake of shelter-in place orders, eCommerce is more important than ever. At Square, we saw businesses shift online in a matter of weeks, and sometimes days – accelerating existing plans, or discovering the opportunity for the first time.

Businesses in cities large and small are embracing eCommerce as omnichannel selling becomes a necessity for success.

These 50 cities saw the largest increase in eCommerce adoption after the outbreak of COVID-19 in March and April when compared to the first two months of the year.

city list

Resilience on Main Street

Small businesses have pivoted business models, built online operations, and have even started selling completely new products to stay ahead. Here’s how one business has adapted to get ahead of the game.

The Russell

The Russell is a fast casual restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. Lunchtime orders used to provide the bulk of its business. But in Mid-March, when the city issued a stay-at-home ruling, the owners faced a tough choice — furlough staff and close for the foreseeable future, or adapt.

Opting to stay open, they used Square Online to quickly create a marketplace that offered ready-made meals, baked goods, wine, beer, and pantry staples. Menu items may rotate, but all orders are available for curbside pickup or delivery to better meet the needs of their community.

The Road Ahead

According to David Rusenko, Square’s head of eCommerce, the shift to online selling is only just beginning. In fact, he says, eCommerce is here to stay. To get ahead of the curve, here are a few things David recommends keeping in mind.

Consumer behavior may change forever

Buyers will expect more options in how they shop. Even as cities reopen, consumer sentiment and behavior will vary, with many still preferring curbside pickup and delivery. You should continue catering to these expectations. You may find their business not only recovers but grows. Learn more about shifting business operations online.

Selling in more than one channel is necessary, and hard

As consumer expectations shift, businesses need to respond by being present wherever their customers expect them. Going online for the first time can create new logistical challenges, like keeping inventory in sync or tracking orders.

As you digitize operations, consider using tools like loyalty points for purchases made both in-store and online, and sending reminder emails for items left in a cart.

The lines between business types are blurring

Traditional distinctions separating food, retail, services, and nonprofits are disappearing. We’ve seen new ways of doing business in industries that haven’t seen significant change in decades.

Consider a restaurant that now sells groceries and merchandise (retail), hosts a live video cooking class (service), and offers meal donations to front line workers (nonprofit). A robust eCommerce platform can help businesses manage across all of the various ways that they do business, rather than just one.

Learn more about shifting business operations online with Square Online.

Alise is an editor at Square, where she writes about how to start, run, and grow a business, highlighting our sellers around the world.