The pandemic left many businesses and people frustrated. It tested our limits and forced us to adapt to a new way of doing meetings, going to school, and living everyday life.
One way Canadians adapted was to embrace technology and begin shopping online and ordering items to their homes. According to Statistics Canada, electronic shopping during the pandemic increased approximately 78 per cent since its onset in March 2020.
Electronic shopping and retail e-commerce see record increases.
“So much of our world happens online these days. If you’re reluctant, or if you don’t want to learn new things, you’re going to be left behind because everyone else is online,” said technology expert and co-founder of Willful Erin Bury.
Technology played a crucial role in the survival of many businesses, big and small. It even helped to keep people safe.
When the pandemic struck, Trish Gooden, a mom of three and logistics specialist, was early into her maternity leave. Her son Lincoln was only four months old.
“I do everything online. I even bought my couches online,” said Gooden.
Gooden purchased a wide range of products online, like cutting boards, clothes, and even groceries.
“I miss the fun of walking through the aisles, but I like the convenience of buying online,” said Gooden.
Gooden says that keeping her family safe is her main priority.
“I only go into a store when I really have to,” said Gooden.
A European study on e-commerce trends during the pandemic found that COVID-19 has impacted the nature of how business is conducted. Research finds that 52 per cent of consumers no longer shop in brick-and-mortar stores and prefer to avoid crowded spaces.
“I prefer shopping for clothes in person. I like the personal retail experience, but I didn’t really have a choice during COVID. If I needed a new pair of pants, it was online shopping,” said Bury.
Bury believes in supporting local businesses, but the reality of a pandemic doesn’t always make it practical.
“You can’t always shop local when you’re shopping online, which is why Amazon has seen such a bump,” said Bury.
The surge in online demand has led some down the path of opportunity, and with websites like Shopify, starting an online business has become a simpler process.
“When You find yourself out of a job, one of the most viable paths to take is acting on that business idea you’ve been sitting on for a few years,” said Bury.
Statistics Canada reports that small businesses make up 98 per cent of employer businesses in Canada, and they continue to face uncertainty and challenges during the pandemic. Most companies were experiencing an 18.2 per cent economic decline during March and April 2020. The data also shows that small businesses have transitioned to online sale platforms or plan to start one.
Bury advocates for starting a business despite being in a pandemic, noting that entry barriers are low, making the risk low.
“I think there’s never been a better time to start a business in Canada, because everyone is going to be looking to support small businesses post COVID-19 as much as they can with their wallets and their voices,” said Bury. “You can have an idea on a Friday and have a Shopify store up and running by Sunday.”
For 14-year-old Keira Philpot, starting a business has always been a dream, and launching her company during the pandemic was not a part of her plans.
“I had a lot of time on my hands,” said Philpot.
Philpot recognized that people were doing a lot of online shopping and were no longer going into stores. She decided to take a chance.
“I wanted to make my own money. I knew people were online and hoped they’d try to buy from me — if they liked the product,” said Philpot.
Inspired by her mother’s entrepreneurial spirit, Philpot launched Keyute Cosmetics. The venture offers a range of organic, vegan, and all-natural lip-care products.
Online shopping and the use of digital tools is our new way of life, and Bury doesn’t see things going back to the way they used to be.
“People are now much more comfortable with technology and with living their lives online,” said Bury.
Bury adds that we will see a bit of a return in terms of “in-person” experiences and “in-person” shopping.
“Our default comfort level of shopping online or doing our business online, I think, will be here to stay. And that’s a good thing,” said Bury.
Featured photo: Founder of Keyute Cosmetics Keira Angela Philpot. Photography by @homesbychiv