E-Commerce 2020 & 2021, Life Support For Businesses?

online sales websites

How Have E-Commerce Websites Helped Small Businesses Through 2020 & 2021? Has The Retail Industry Permanently Changed?


The coronavirus pandemic has had a substantial negative impact on ‘normal life’ for people and businesses right across the country. In January 2021, the UK public were optimistic that lockdown was coming to an end. The new year bought with it greatly anticipated family reunions, nightlife and travel restrictions would be a thing of the past.

Regrettably this has not been the case. In January 2021 the UK entered its third national lockdown, and once again E-Commerce website technology has been heavily relied on to support people and businesses of all sizes.

It begs the question, where would businesses be without E-Commerce after a year like 2020? What happens to companies that hold back from embracing online sales, or who hold back from adapting their business models and push online retail?

The elephant in the room acting as a stark reminder for industry giants Debenhams, and Arcadia Group. Both collapsing throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, both suffering from falling footfall even before the pandemic. According to the Guardian, in an article published on the 14th of October 2019, the number of shoppers on UK high streets has fallen by 10% in just seven years.

It is a fact that the UK is the largest online B2C market in Europe. Staggeringly for an island nation, the UK is the third largest E-Commerce market globally. 81% of the UK are online shoppers. By the year 2024 data suggests that a huge 95% of all retail sales will be completed with the help of e-commerce somehow.

What Are E-Commerce Websites and Can They Help My Business?

Although variants of the technology and its uses exist, the simple definition is ‘transactions conducted electronically on the internet’. They aren’t overly new, with huge corporations like PayPal and eBay amongst the first to really roll the tech out. Our dependency on this type of transaction has evolved from a branch of sales to a lifeline since the battle with Covid-19 began in 2020.

Websites and apps which offer online selling functionality can be adapted to hugely benefit retail outlets, specialists / niche industry, to book appointments, order from restaurants and order a weekly shop.

Search4Local can design, spec & build unique E-Commerce sites that offer hundreds of products, help monitor sales and automate the process to a manageable level. We specialize in digital marketing, SEO, social media and PPC campaigns to help drive traffic to the site to increase ROI.

How Have High Streets Changed?

It would be naïve to blame the collapse of the Debenhams and the Arcadia Group solely on lockdown, although that of course hasn’t helped. The ever increasing everyday costs of opening the doors coupled with fewer feet on the high street over the years has been gradually eroding profits.

Although few would have predicted that when Debenhams shut up shop for lockdown they would be closing their doors for the final time. An article published in the Financial Times on March 16th 2020 reported that rent and rate bills for Debenhams sat at an eye watering two hundred and fifty million pounds.

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Online Sale Facts of 2020

To help you gauge the scale of the E-Commerce industry across the UK, please see below a few notable facts about E-Commerce.


  • E-Commerce contributed £5.3 billion to the UK economy throughout 2020


  • 48% of all online shoppers start with a simple keyword, semantic or longtail expression search – be it voice or typed


  • Debenhams, an iconic and longstanding UK retailer, sold to Boohoo for £55 million – Boohoo bought brand assets, E-Commerce & website operations. Along with all own label products across fashion & beauty


  • All one hundred and eighteen Debenhams stores will close and go into liquidation, leaving ten thousand staff out of work


  • When this blog was written in February 2021, Boohoo had no physical shops or high street presence


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E-Commerce & Digital Marketing

Digital advertising ensures that small to medium businesses are able to promote their services and products to new and existing customers online. Digital marketing is a multi-stringed bow, and there many methods to help push traffic to your site.

For example, products and services always marry up with keywords. Each keyword varies in the amount of traffic and searches it gets. An SEO campaign helps to rank a site in a specific geo location, for the most popular / relatable keyword. Generally speaking organic rankings and listings are trusted more so than paid ones.

Paid listings, or PPC, is a form of digital advertising that buys rented space on search engine pages. Once the user has stopped paying for the ad the listing disappears. Prices for keywords vary depending on competition, location and industry. PPC campaigns can work well for new products or offers but shouldn’t be relied on completely.

Social media marketing follows a similar fashion to PPC, as the best results come from a pay per click model. One great advantage of social media marketing is the ability to use images, videos and target specific niche audiences.

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Bespoke E-Commerce Websites & Digital Advertising

For further details on our services and to find out how an E-Commerce website would benefit your business, please get in touch with one of our team members. We offer bespoke solutions at an exceptionally competitive rate. Call us on 01271 603 085, or email northdevonoffice@search4local.co.uk.


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