Small retail owners have been among the hardest hit as lockdown restrictions called for the closure of nonessential businesses and forced them to make difficult decisions quickly and pivot their offering to online.

Despite these hurdles, many amazing success stories emerged. eStore Logistics saw YoY increases in online customer orders of 80% in June, 87% in July and 99% in August alone. Businesses such as Bensons Trading, the firm behind, showed that it was possible to make a rapid pivot to ecommerce and have since gone on to sell thousands of showbags online to customers in need of amazing gifts for friends and family.

While the shift to online retail is inevitable, Covid-19 has accelerated the ecommerce industry’s growth, progression and innovation and provided new opportunities for small business owners. New technology has emerged and online platforms have become more user friendly. In parallel, people have also had more time at home to invest in their hobbies and build businesses from their passions.

The result? Turning niche passions into small retail startups has been made easier. Here’s how.

Access to better and more user-friendly technology

In the past, the paper work, logistics, accounting and websites were the most daunting obstacles to overcome for any wannabe business owner, but the emergence of better, more optimised technology is eliminating these as pain points.

Those looking to grow their brand’s online presence but who are tech-illiterate can now use platforms such as Shopify to effortlessly create and customise an online store. Accounting software such as Xero helps make the invoicing, payroll and inventory process fool proof. Small businesses can even turn to companies like eStore Logistics to handle the entire logistics and handling component of their business.

eStore Logistics recently debuted a new customer platform called Express. The online portal provides clients with fast fulfilment at their fingertips making it easier than ever to stock goods, manage products, run reports and track real-time inventory.

These services mean you don’t need to be an accounting or logistics wizard to start a retail business.

Selling through marketplaces

With Covid-19 restrictions surging online orders and Australians spending nearly 40 hours per week on the internet, retailers are racing to build impactful online presences that match their in store experience.  A larger portion of brands entering the market today take the reverse-engineered approach and build their business 100 percent online, establishing their brand then branching out into physical stores.

Online marketplaces make this process easier than ever and allow retailers to remain laser-focused on building and selling a great product for their chosen customers.  Making use of platforms such as means that newly established retailers can capture customers further along the sales funnel than just starting from scratch.

Aside from the obvious point of reducing expensive overhead costs such as leasing space, having an online presence also permits small businesses to apply web data and analytics to ensure they are proactively engaging with the right customer, as opposed to leaving it to a combination of luck and foot traffic.

Capitalise on your small business status

2020’s bushfires and the global pandemic have ironically made it a great time to start a new retail business, because Aussies have rallied to support local, small businesses. A recent Australia Post survey showed that 30 percent of respondents stated they were making more of an effort to buy Australian-made products than they did previous to Covid-19. Additionally, 23 percent of shoppers said they’re more conscious about buying from businesses in their local areas.

This support has helped Aussie retailers that are just starting out immensely, fueling the success of both the small business sector and local communities. Utilise this and invest in developing marketing strategies that segment your customers and target local areas as this is a trend that’s likely to continue throughout 2021 and beyond as Aussies rally together to support the economy.

The retail sector has changed dramatically since the start of the pandemic and we will continue to feel its effects for years to come. However, the adjacent products and services created to support retail businesses have adapted to help guide people in turning their passion projects into successful retail businesses.

Leigh Williams is founder and managing director at eStore Logistics