The Rise of eCommerce: Becoming an Entrepreneur in 2021

As we gradually pull ourselves out of the pandemic, it’s a decent time to start thinking about what COVID-created economic trends are here to stay and which ones were more of a flash in the pan.

The vast bargain bins filled with 50p hand sanitizer found at supermarkets around the country are a subtle suggestion that that hysteria is over, but, looking to the other end of the spectrum, one area that has boomed and looks likely to remain buoyant is eCommerce.

Already a huge market, online retail has benefitted massively from lockdown conditions and, even with brick-and-mortar retail back on the menu, looks set to retain its enhanced presence in global commerce. That makes it a good time to be a digital focussed business, but what challenges do entrepreneurs face heading into the current market?

eCommerce takes over

Long before the term ‘coronavirus’ had even grazed the collective public lexicon, marketing and economic blogs were in constant discussion around the rise of eCommerce. For a while now, the growth of online retail has been described as exponential, however, with the arrival of the pandemic and lockdown conditions that all but eliminated traditional alternatives, that exponential growth has become even more, well, exponential.

Heading into summer this year, the global eCommerce market was worth $26.7 trillion. To offer some perspective on that mind-boggling figure, eCommerce market share rose from 16% in 2019 to 19% in 2020 – a rise described by trade experts as “dramatic”. That 3% rise is a step up from the 2018-2019 jump of 2% which, in itself, is an impressive growth number.

While some areas of business may look to return somewhat to more traditional pursuits, the collective consumer appetite for online shopping is unlikely to drift too far away from the current surge, even with physical stores reopening. The continued rise of eCommerce platforms like Shopify and seller apps such as Etsy and Depop have shown that preferences are changing in a number of core consumer areas – welcome news for online retailers, and decidedly worrying data for retail outlets still largely housed within four walls.

Tips for budding e-entrepreneurs

Naturally, now might seem like a wonderful time for sellers to get in on the action in the ever-blossoming eCommerce market, but like any commercial boom area – even one as vast and diverse as eCommerce – markets can become saturated quickly. As such, it’s essential budding entrepreneurs approach any new venture with care.

The good news is a sensible angle of attack in eCommerce is largely similar to that of the wider business. Indeed, a lot of the basic principles of entrepreneurship still apply when setting up a new eCommerce business:

  • Creating a detailed business plan
  • Creating a considered budget that promotes cautious spending and anticipates financial challenges
  • Understanding the competition
  • An awareness of the need to constantly develop and grow as a business
  • Intelligent, frugal marketing
  • A commitment to the cause beyond the typical 9-5 lifestyle

Nothing above is rocket science, but it’s always worth remembering that life won’t be easy in business even when entering an exciting market. However, with eCommerce in the position that it is, and platforms like the aforementioned Shopify making it easier than ever for sellers to set up structured selling bases, many entrepreneurs will think now is a rather good time to strike – and it appears the iron will remain hot for some time to come.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.