Canva.com

Canva.com

This was coming, and it was only a matter of time. I am not talking about Covid-19. Unlike Bill Gates, I did not foresee and currently struggle to fathom this new reality. Instead, what I am referring to is this seismic shift we are experiencing in e-Comm sales. There is no going back, and I think that’s for the best.

According to research done by Bricks Meets Clicks, 6.3% of groceries were sold online in 2019 with the expectation for that to reach 7% percent or more by 2020. I am confident we’ve already eclipsed that number, and I don’t see that walking back. I did not take the time to do more research, but I feel safe in this assumption; disproportionately, those online sales come from emerging natural product brands.

I think the gambling money is off the table. Only capital-efficient brands with sound fundamentals will win significant investment dollars. Further, the cost of driving discovery and trial at retail will indeed be out of reach for most young brands. Every founder should be reevaluating their go-to-market strategy.

I am a contrarian thinker, always have been. I see this as a seed change and one that tilts in favor of young brands. But it only comes into play if you adjust to this new reality. e-Comm is a democratizing platform. Consumers no longer find their choices filtered by buyers, distributors, and available shelf real estate. Instead, the products they want are online ready to be discovered. That means one brand has just as much of a chance of being found as another.

Every brand has an e-Comm opportunity right now. Even those that are frozen or refrigerated. Economics and logistics are catching up quickly with consumer demand. I’d encourage you to be at the head of this change rather than at its tail.

I’d move with a sense of urgency. Adjust your strategy. Get yourself surrounded by the team that can help you accelerate your e-Comm growth. Build a nimble capital-efficient business that requires less money from outside investors and can respond to consumers’ needs and wants quickly.

I am hearing people repeat the common logic that this current economic shutdown and the possible resulting recession will set entrepreneurship back a few years. I could not disagree more vehemently with that thinking. When people get knocked out of their comfortable nests, many won’t look for another unfulfilling job. Instead, they will use this disruption to leap into entrepreneurship. In 2009 and 2010, as we emerged from the Great Recession, there was a massive uptick in startups. I see the same thing happening again. However, this time, I believe most will be designed as digital-native.

That is why the time to act is now. If you currently have your e-Comm strategy on the back burner you better change your focus. Because the next wave of entrepreneurs is coming, and their brands are going to be digitally focused.

It is not my intent to add to the anxiety of this moment. But this window is wide open right now, and I am trying to cajole you into leaping through it. I would encourage that you leverage e-Comm and alternative channels (when they reopen) for discovery and use retail, down the road, for replenishment. The future arrived a bit early, seize it.