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DIGITAL GROWTH


Has Covid-19 provided the impetus to take your store online?


Digital Growth Programme consultant Paul Ince (pictured), our social media expert, offers some insight into consumer behaviour changes during lockdown and the increase in online buying, with a look at the new feature - Facebook Shops.


When there are restrictions on where you can go, and what you can do, long-held retail habits change, if not overnight, then over a few months at least. As a society, most of us were


already familiar and well-practised at shopping online. From March to June, though, we didn’t have the choice of popping down to our local high street to browse. Data from IMRG (Interactive


Media in Retail Group) states that UK online retail sales rose by 22 per cent in the first week in April compared to the same time last year. The beauty sector saw a 140 per cent rise, while electrical purchases rose by 90 per cent. Delivery company ParcelHero


says home shopping is likely to double from 20 per cent of all retail sales to 40 per cent. Ocado's sales jumped 40 per


cent in the second quarter of the year. Jeff Bezos reportedly became a trillionaire as we flocked to buy things through Amazon. As we move out of a blanket


lockdown, and retail outlets slowly begin to open, we'll soon see whether this change was only temporary. Like those across the UK,


businesses in our region have had to adapt swiftly to the change in consumer behaviour. Those that already had online selling capabilities seem to have found it easier to continue to sell and fulfil orders. Those without have either had to make a quick change or stop selling altogether. Fortunately, there are many


different options for a retail business wishing to take their products to an online audience. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify,


Factor in the posts from your


account, and you have a great opportunity to create a unique experience for your customers and build them into a community of loyal fans. At the time of writing, Facebook


Shops is not yet available in the UK. It's likely that we'll see specific requirements relating to payments and tax collection when it is. Some businesses will be nervous


‘Businesses in our region have had to adapt swiftly to the change in consumer behaviour’


WooCommerce and even Etsy are available. Never has ecommerce been more accessible to businesses. Facebook, never the one to want


to miss out on an opportunity to take a slice of the pie, continues to develop its own set of ecommerce tools to help businesses sell directly through its platforms. Not so long ago, it launched


Instagram shopping tags, with direct links to the website from which they can be bought. Now, Facebook is going further with the introduction of Facebook Shops. Facebook Shops will allow


businesses to curate product collections without leaving Facebook or Instagram. Users can find your shop from your Facebook page, Instagram profile or by swiping up from Instagram stories. Shops will be able to be


customised to create a unified experience regardless of platform – another example of how Facebook


56 business network August/September 2020


is starting to integrate its family of platforms. However, one of the criticisms of the existing set-up around Facebook pages, the Shop tab and Instagram shopping is the lack of customisable elements. With the new Commerce Manager, a new Facebook Business Manager tool, you'll be able to customise your layout and style to more suitably reflect your company brand. Your customers will feel like they're with you as they browse.


about an organisation such as Facebook being part of their online sales strategy. But when times are uncertain, can you afford to miss out on those potential customers who don't care how they do the transaction, as long as they can do it quickly? When Facebook Shops comes to


the UK, we'll develop a session so that you can learn all about it and start your strategy to implementation. Keep checking the Digital Growth Programme for when it's released. Until then, we have Get Started with Instagram Shopping for any business looking to get a head start.


To learn more about the digital support and view our latest webinar listings, visit www.leics- digital.co.uk/events


The Digital Growth Programme is managed by East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire). It is a programme part- funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Chamber and Leicestershire County Council designed to help SMEs located in Leicester and Leicestershire embrace new digital technology to improve productivity to aid growth. For more information please visit www.leics-digital.co.uk


Businesses based in D2N2 can access similar digital support by visiting www.d2n2growthhub.co.uk


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