COVID-19 has changed the way we shop, perhaps permanently.

Due to the necessity of staying at home, the UK’s ecommerce sector has flourished over the last year. At least, this is the case for some retailers. Brands that were able to pivot their strategies and meet customer demand have been able to enjoy impressive sales figures.

According to 2020 data from the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, the UK saw the largest growth in online sales since 2007. It shot up a huge 36.6% in during a lockdown-hit 2020, with particularly impressive sales results for multichannel retailers in garden, electricals and mobile commerce sectors.

One of these success stories is Studio, one of our clients here at First 4 Recruitment. In the 39 weeks up to December 2020, the shopping app company recorded a huge 32% rise in sales. It increased customer numbers by 9% and brought in £16 million more in pre-tax profit than the same period in 2019. 

This is fantastic news for Studio, whose chief executive Phil Maudsley recently told Retail Gazette:

“This was an outstanding third quarter and peak trading performance across the Studio business,” chief executive Phil Maudsley said.

“The strong sales momentum continued through the period, demonstrating the strength and attractiveness of our online value retail offer.”

The only sector to suffer during 2020 was clothing, which saw growth of just 1.3%. This is perhaps understandable, considering large parts of the population were stuck indoors for much of the year. 

How is the supply chain handling the new demand for ecommerce?

While much of the focus during the coronavirus crisis has been on brands reimagining their ecommerce offers, we shouldn’t forget the hard work and rapid transformation taking place behind the scenes.

Warehousing, supply chains and other commercial industries have all been adapting to the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Of course, warehouse, logistics and distribution businesses are no strangers to ecommerce. But many are pushing incredibly hard to meet logistical challenges and keep up with increased demand. Managers are having to jump through all kinds of health and safety hoops to keep workers and customers safe. This means adjusted workflows, increased PPE, social distancing policies, employee temperature monitoring and many other new processes.

These measures all have the potential to increase costs and slow production right down. But luckily, technology has come to the rescue.

According to the Financial Times, the pandemic has accelerated the use of automation and robotics all over the world. Applications range from automatic storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) to disinfectant robots, along with cloud-based warehouse management solutions and the digitisation of manual processes.

Automation offers obvious benefits in terms of productivity and efficiency, especially when companies are facing staff shortages caused by the pandemic. However, it remains to be seen what impact these innovations will have on the labour market post-COVID.

For bespoke recruitment solutions and career opportunities in commercial, e-commerce, warehousing and logistics, get in touch with our expert team here at First 4 Recruitment.

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