Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes bicker over online shopping
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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people in the UK have decided to start their own business, spotting an opportunity to profit from the increase in online shopping. Shimona Mehta, Shopify’s Managing Director for EMEA spoke to Express.co.uk to discuss the growth of entrepreneurial spirit in the UK since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mehta explained the exponential growth that the online shopping industry has experienced since the start of 2020.
She said: “This last year and a half has been time-shifting for the retail and the commerce industry, we’ve seen 10 years of growth in the eCommerce space within just a few months last year.
“They were trends that weren’t created by COVID, they were really just accelerated by it. What we already expected to see happen in 2030, came forward to 2020,” Mehta explained.
“The drive towards entrepreneurship was really great, particularly what we saw in the UK, we saw new store or business creation on Shopify grow by 106 percent.”
Shopify created over 100,000 jobs in the UK in 2020 (Image: GETTY)
With lockdown meaning many people had more time to evaluate their careers, and Mehta says this helped to drive the number of new businesses setting up.
“More people were sitting at home really started to think about their options, really started to think about, what they want for their futures and their lives.” Mehta said.
“So, people who thought ‘one day, maybe, but I don’t have the time’, potentially had some extra time on their hands and were able to think about what they would do and how they would do it.
“We’ve seen some of that coming to fruition this year, and really great trend of new businesses emerging.”
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As more people looked to start their own business, Shopify made it a priority to make it as easy as possible for their users to get started.
Mehta said: “We make it really simple to be able to start a business.
“Within a few hours you are able to get a site online up and running, and with a really low barrier to entry and really low cost of failure.
“A lot of that risk, and that intimidation of what it takes to start a business I think is lowering,” she added.
Many people set up a business during the COVID-19 pandemic (Image: GETTY)
The growth in the world of eCommerce came not only in terms of sales, but also in job creation. This was especially the case in the UK, as Mehta explained.
“Globally, we saw over 457 million consumers purchase from a Shopify merchant in 2020, which represented over 50 percent growth for us from 2019,” she said.
“But what I’m more excited about is that growth in small businesses getting up and running and the growth that we’re driving.
“Shopify merchants and partners generated over 112,000 jobs in the UK alone in 2020, which is equivalent to the population of the city of Lincoln.”
“Our merchants are growing well, nearly 20 percent of Britain’s 100 fastest growing businesses are using Shopify, and some of those businesses didn’t exist five years ago.”
Mehta added: “That’s what’s really exciting, to be able to build a business really well, and to grow it fast.”
The shift towards online shopping has accelerated over the last 18 months, with many people having to embrace it who had previously resisted.
“What happened in the last year was a lot of people shopping online for the first time. We really do now walk down that digital high street,” Mehta said.
“We’re shifting the way that we buy and we’re shifting the way that we that we purchase, and because of that, physical shops have to also figure out how to adapt.”
Mehta stressed that although the pandemic pushed many of these trends forward, there is no expectation that shopping behaviours will revert back to the ways of old.
“This is here to stay,” she said.
“A phone in our hands means that we are shopping all the time, and as people get comfortable with this digital world and connectivity that brands are creating across channels, it’s only natural.
“Tik Tok, as an example, driven by Gen Z. They are actually going to Tik Tok to discover brands that they’re going to want to shop from and make purchasing decisions,” Mehta added.