E-commerce businesses boom in wake of the pandemic
2020 was a crazy year, as news of coronavirus began to break in early 2020, no one knew the full impact it would have and the way it would change our lives forever. But what was most surprising, was the number of small businesses that emerged (and succeeded) as a result. We’re calling it the Lockdown business boom and whilst we’re always quick to celebrate the success of great British e-commerce and D2C brands – we think this is a story we all need to hear, stay with us as we explore the lows and highs of the lockdown business boom.
If you cast your mind back to March 2020, the UK was put into a sudden lockdown with tight restrictions. Workers were told to work from home where possible, only leaving for essential travel and one hour of exercise a day. Any retailers not deemed as essential (clothing, electrical) were also told to shut down along with all hospitality venues. This resulted in many businesses across all industries closing their doors for good and we even saw several retailers that have been around for years disappearing from the high street; Debenhams, Topshop, and Dorothy Perkins to name a few.
Whilst all businesses took a hit, it has no doubt been an even bigger struggle for SMEs. According to Simply Business, there are currently over 6 million SMEs in the UK accounting for 99% of all business, 33% of employment and 21% of turnover in the UK. And whilst the Government schemes provided a lifeline for many small businesses, for many it simply wasn’t enough – with over 2 million left without any financial support.
The lockdown business boom
But amongst the doom and gloom and the struggle that many businesses faced, the was a glimmer of hope for SMEs and the pandemic saw an influx of micro and small e-commerce businesses emerging. With the shops shut and people only having the ability to buy online, entrepreneurs in their droves seized the opportunity to launch a business, many of which have continued to succeed today. In this blog, we’ll be celebrating these businesses and looking at how they achieved success in the midst of a pandemic.
Hands up if you spent your lockdown days on several zoom calls with friends and family? We certainly did! From pub quizzes, work socials and even first dates – anything that may have taken place in a bar setting were now having to take place online, at home. And that’s exactly where the idea for Lockdown Liquor & Co. was born.
Natasha and Jack Durling launched the premixed cocktail business in April 2020 after sending a premixed tequila cocktail to their friends to enjoy over a Zoom call. Word spread like wildfire of the cocktail mixes and demand soon grew. Today, the Lockdown Liquor company continues to flourish serving direct to consumers, but also expanding into hospitality and retail… and overseas! With 13 cocktail blends, gift boxes, glassware and subscription services, it’s safe to say that the lockdown business is a success!
Like many people when Covid-19 hit, Maisie Penn former beauty PR was made redundant just 2 months into lockdown. Maisie tried to see the positives and use it as an opportunity to do something she was genuinely passionate about, and after getting inspiration online tried her hand at candle making. Originally born out of boredom, Maisie’s unique and colourful candle designs caught the eyes of friends and family before taking the plunge and launching Maza. The Peckham-based business soon took off being in featured in the likes of Elle Decor, Vogue and The New York Times. Maza continues to thrive today out of a home studio with an array of ornamental candles and ceramics ready to brighten up every home.
Launching 2 years prior to the unforeseen pandemic, Roundwood Gin initially supplied their small batch Gin to “supermarkets, independent stockists, farm shops, delis, wine merchants and smaller retailers”, but with the country falling into lockdown and many of these outlets closing for the foreseeable future, founders of Roundwood Gin had to rethink their strategy.
Luckily for Co-Founder Emily and her team, having a running website already available enabled the gin distillery to adapt to the change fast and sell direct to consumers, taking advantage of the sudden boom of people drinking at home and the number of consumers vowing to support small local businesses. Not only that, but during the height of the pandemic, Roundwood supported the local community by using resources to create hand sanitiser.
The Cambridge-based distillery continues to grow, offering a small range of quality items on its website, including distillery sessions. It’s great to see businesses like Roundwood Distillery adapt to the changing world caused by the pandemic and experience success in the lockdown business boom as a result.
Partner in Wine
Another core memory of lockdown life was when we were finally allowed to meet another person outdoors. It felt like such a luxury and at the time we were graced with beautiful weather. Parks and outdoor spaces were filled with many enjoying picnics and drinks and Lucy, the founder of Partner in Wine, was one of the many people going to meet a friend for a glass of wine in the sun. By the time Lucy got there, the wine was warm and shortly after the idea for Partner in Wine was born.
A gap in the market saw Lucy create the first insulated wine bottle – both stylish and big enough to fit an entire 75cl bottle of wine and keep it chilled! Lucy attributes a lot of her success to the social media platform, TikTok, creating behind-the-scenes content, wine recommendations and product videos which have helped create demand for the product. Since launching, the business has new products including wine tumblers which can be found in the likes of Selfridges and Oliver Bonas as well as being sold D2C online.
D2C Continues to Grow
It’s no surprise that the pandemic resulted in a shift in consumer behaviour. With nowhere to go, more people than ever took to online shopping and by 2023 it is predicted that online sales will account for 22% of global retail sales. In June 2020, retail websites racked up over 22billion visits, up 6 billion from January that same year, and the lockdown business boom shows no signs of slowing down. And, in the UK alone, 70% of consumers prefer to shop online, a stark increase from less than 50% pre-pandemic.
Whilst e-commerce continues to grow exponentially, most excitingly, we are seeing an increase in Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands such as the ones mentioned in this blog. The D2C sector is currently worth $44.6 billion and is projected to reach $302 billion by FY 2030 so it’s no surprise that we are seeing new and existing brands capitalising on the trend. Selling D2C eliminates the need for wholesalers and retailers, removing substantial costs and giving control of stock and customer experience back to the business owners – so we can see what the appeal is!
Many of the successful lockdown D2C businesses we’re seeing, the ones in this blog and many more, started in the home, in the spare room, on the kitchen table and some even started in the garden shed, so it’s exciting and refreshing to see these businesses outgrow the home.
Codestorm supports the brightest growing e-commerce brands
At Codestorm we’re powering the growth of major D2C brands such as Candy Kittens, Tarquin’s Gin, TRIBE, WWF and Bottleshot Brew through our industry leading fulfilment software LINK. LINK is your all-in-one platform to unlocking the data and insights that power your e-commerce fulfilment. With all your data in one, secure, available anywhere platform, your teams can access all the information they need to delight your customers and deliver your promises. With full visibility and the ability to personalise orders, LINK is a fully integrated e-commerce platform that makes fulfilment simple.
So, if you’re part of the lockdown business boom and your e-commerce business has experienced sensational growth over the past 2 years like those featured in this blog, and the time has finally come to source a e-fulfilment partner, get in touch with the Codestorm team today and find out how we can support your business growth with world-class e-fulfilment services: