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How Merchants Can Pivot To New Market Opportunities


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Keep up with the latest on how COVID-19 is affecting retail and how merchants can best continue conducting business in the time of coronavirus

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Whether it is an economy-disrupting global pandemic or an unexpected viral trend, there are some elements of the free economy that reward innovation and creativity. In this changing landscape, talented entrepreneurs bring novel ideas to the forefront. However, the key to implementing modern business strategies or pioneering ground-breaking visions is identifying where the opportunities lie.

From online ecommerce shops to high-risk merchant accounts, global demands for product delivery, clean work environments, and tools to mitigate physical disconnect are opening new avenues for growth. Once you find a demand that aligns with your business, you can pivot your offerings to make sure your brand is first to market. 

The emergence of the work-from-home market

As more companies begin to move their operations to a work-from-home model, there are new opportunities for any company to reach customers in an unprecedented way. A number of stores are going online and finding out how Shopify works to help streamline purchasing through new channels. Rather than a company ordering products and materials for employees via a catalog bulk purchase, individuals are heading online to stock their new home offices. Amazon may rule the ecommerce space for general items, but specific goods can still gain traction on their own.

Working from home provides an opportunity for new products that fuse the office and home living space. Standard office items such as chairs, desks, and organizers are trending, but the more interesting items include desktop aquariums, washable keyboards, and even foot hammocks. Finding a uniquely untapped product idea could be a fast way to take advantage of this developing hybrid workspace.

What you need to know
  • In this guest blog post by our strategic payment partner PayKings, Dustin Kapper explains why merchants need to keep a keen eye on events and disruptions that are not directly connected to the retail market.
  • New conditions and circumstances create new opportunities for those who are nimble enough to seize the moment.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shelter-at-home orders have created new consumer needs and desires. Perceptive retailers can capitalize on the new conditions while serving consumers by providing what they need

Communicating among teams has never been more important. Existing platforms like Skype, Zoom, and Slack are seeing more traffic, while novelty platforms are gaining traction. Some development teams have decided to take their online video calls to a different virtual environment. Many open world video games have plush landscapes and unique settings one can experience. Some offices are deciding to bring their teams to the virtual fireplace to inspire conversation in an atmosphere of calm solidarity. Quality team communication is directly linked to productivity. Any tools that can streamline conversation through unique online channels are sure to gain traction. 

The new influx of online sales

Certainly, online sales are nothing new, but the reality of the rise in at-home workplaces and social distancing from brick-and-mortar stores has led to a massive increase in online sales behavior from consumers. In fact, there has been a 40% increase in online electronic sales since pre-pandemic days, Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse data shows. Meanwhile, other categories have also seen sizable growth. What does this mean for ecommerce merchants? If you have been operating an online business for some time, you are now poised to benefit the most from this influx of online sales.

One necessity for selling online is a payment processing account or merchant account. These are specific types of bank accounts for accepting credit card transactions online. Most companies can use mainstream channels, however, businesses implementing subscription billing or operating in unique verticals will want to learn how to pick the best high risk payment gateway. By expanding your online sales presence through online advertising and streamlined sales channels, you can reach customers at a rate never before seen in the ecommerce market. 

New product revolutions in niche industries and markets

There are always interesting purchasing trends that emerge whenever there is an economic or societal shock to the global system. Since lockdowns began and individuals moved their lives indoors, there are have been massive increases in niche markets such as:

Indeed, Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse is tracking sales surges in several verticals overlapping with those PaymentKings is following. In particular between the last week of February and now,  Signifyd is seeing:  

  • A 69% increase in sales in the Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis category.
  • A 139% increase in Leisure & Outdoor 
  • A 46% increase in Home Goods & Decor

Not only are sales going up in these areas, but new products and innovations are being rolled out to meet the needs of the stay-at-home market. By noticing the trends in the way that different product industries respond to the buyer’s emotional states, merchants can pivot their sales, products, or services to take advantage of these new opportunities to reach customers. 

New and increased distribution channels

With online sales growing faster than brick-and-mortar sales, there are new and increased distribution channels that merchants can access to reach customers like never before. From food transportation apps to supply change overhauls, the terrain for connecting products to people is adapting. 

With restaurant dining areas closed or allowing decreased occupancy, companies like Grubhub and DoorDash increased their ability to deliver restaurant meals. Drivers looking to make extra funds picked up the tab for the growing demand of delivery personnel and within weeks an expanded distribution channel changed the nature of restaurant dining for the COVID-19 era. 

When sales move to an online-only model, even temporarily, behaviors for all market demographics begin to shift and likely remain in those new channels. We’ve already seen that shoppers who are new to online buying out of necessity are returning more frequently. . 

A deluge of streaming

Movie theaters have felt their profits drop in the aftermath of the stay-at-home movement, but films and new series are still finding a way to make their presence known. It seems streaming services grow in quantity and cost each day. But with consumers watching and discussing new shows and spreading the word about their favorite protagonist, opportunities arise. Now is the time for ecommerce stores to capitalize on trending entertainment themes or find a way to offer their own form of online media to share with the insatiable streaming habits of hungry viewers. 

Merchants who pivot and adapt will thrive

Global market situations have revealed new industries and styles of marketing that are on the cusp of a rapid evolution. Consumer behavior creates unpredictable demands and the recent months have shown us that global challenges force rapid adaptation. Entrepreneurs who put in the time and creative insight will be the ones to survive and thrive as the retail market changes.

Dustin Kapper

Guest blogger Dustin Kapper is the marketing director at PayKings. He focuses on developing new opportunities for ecommerce businesses and providing payment processing solutions for high-risk merchants. Dustin combines analytical insights with consumer trends to determine key verticals for ecommerce expansion.