The coronavirus lockdown turned the lives of many high street merchants upside down overnight. For those who had little experience of online trading, or had business models that relied entirely on face-to-face sales, the challenge was sudden and daunting. But it was a challenge they knew they had to face.
Research conducted by Visa last year showed that although an online presence is viewed as paramount to the success of 87% of small high street businesses surveyed, almost 30% did not have a website. With online trade reaching record highs during the lockdown, those without an effective web presence were suddenly in a perilous position.
Before the pandemic, Georgina Black, who runs Pretty Shiny Shop, a small independent gift store in Finsbury Park, north London, did very little trade online. “I got maybe three sales a month through my website,” she says. “I didn’t regularly update it and I didn’t even list all my products. I can tell you that had to change fast when the lockdown started.”
Since March, she has been painstakingly adding all her products, taking images of them, writing descriptions and listing measurements. “It’s time-consuming because I have no team, but I am starting to see the results. From an average of three sales per month I am now getting on average four or five a day.”