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 employers and employees contemplate a work-from-home future, 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.
- Dramatic disruptions and even emerging fads provide new opportunities for retailers.
- Finding the right opportunity requires vigilance and creativity — and a certain penchant for risk-taking.
- COVID-19 is driving new behaviors, including a dramatic increase in online shopping and an influx in new ecommerce customers. Some new behaviors will endure as habits even after the health crisis passes.
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.
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, in October, electronics sales were up 73% year-over-year, 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 & markets
There are always interesting purchasing trends that emerge whenever there is an economic or societal shock to the global system. When lockdowns began in the spring and individuals moved their lives indoors, there were massive increases in niche markets, including:
- CBD Oil Merchant Accounts & Vape Stores
- Fitness Gear, Health Products & Online Gym Classes
- Beauty & Makeup Products
- Home Design & Renovations Products
- Survivalist Equipment & PPE Gear
While some increases have leveled off, ecommerce is tracking well above pre-pandemic levels.
Indeed, Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse is tracking sales surges in several verticals overlapping with those PaymentKings is following. In particular year-over-year, Signifyd is seeing:
- A 41% increase in sales in the Alcohol, Tobacco & Cannabis category.
- A 46% increase in Leisure & Outdoor
- A 38% increase in Health & Beauty
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 chain 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.