COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns have undoubtedly had a huge affect on the growth of e-commerce in the Nordics. To learn more about the extent of the change, Nordea surveyed 600 Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to find out the extent to which their response to the situation had triggered a move to online sales. As expected, the survey showed that the crisis has triggered a lasting change to the online and offline sales mix in the Nordics.
The switch to online
Throughout the corona crisis, as lockdowns of varying dimensions continued to hamper physical sales channels in the Nordics, online shopping grew exponentially. Operating an online sales channel became standard practice for almost every retail company in the Nordics.
Unsurprisingly, 70% of respondents in Nordea’s SME survey believe that the corona crisis has increased the need for online sales channels as well as the need to optimise existing online sales channels. This is in order to meet the increased demand for online sales from consumers and to compete with global companies.
As many as 15% of SMEs surveyed that now offer an online sales channel to their customers did not offer one before the crisis began. 46% of SMEs surveyed that already had an online sales channel have made notable improvements to their online offering during the crisis.
As many as 15% of SMEs surveyed that now offer an online sales channel to their customers did not offer one before the crisis began.
Barriers to moving online
With regards to the challenges SMEs face when setting up or improving their online sales channels, 42% of those surveyed responded that a lack of time and resources was a significant barrier towards improving their online presence. 36% of SMEs also identified a lack of technical knowledge as creating a barrier.
Just under 25% of SMEs surveyed stated that it would be easier to get started with online sales or improve their existing online sales channels, if it was possible to purchase a complete solution from an external e-commerce provider.
Finding the right online solution
Nordea’s Nordic SME survey also showed that respondents did not have a full overview of the online sales solutions currently offered in the marketplace.
Just under one third of respondents who did not have an online sales channel at the beginning of the crisis, felt that moving to online would have been less challenging if they had a clearer understanding of the different online sales solutions. 23% of all survey respondents were also not aware that some banks and financial institutions provide their own proprietary online payment platforms.
With regards to the challenges SMEs face when setting up or improving their online sales channels, 42% of those surveyed responded that a lack of time and resources was a significant barrier towards improving their online presence.
Online is here to stay
Overall, Nordea’s survey of 600 SMEs confirmed that the crisis has signalled a rapid adoption of online e-commerce sales channels for almost every company in the Nordics.
However, companies that established their online sales channels or improved existing e-commerce offerings still encountered challenges related to time, complexity and finding the right solution that fits their business needs.
Despite the challenges, e-commerce boomed and in a post crisis world, a hybrid model of online and physical sales channels looks set to become the norm.
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