E-Commerce In The Age Of Covid-19 Part One: Advances In Merchant Software

This article is the first article of a three-part series on e-commerce addressing the merchant experience, improving consumer experience, and the next generation of technology

Covid-19’s impact on American retailers has been massive — not just in terms of lost income or jobs, but also the accelerated rise in e-commerce volume. Online retail, which had previously taken more than a decade to reach 16%, leapfrogged to 27% in the 2 months following the onset of Covid. Experts forecast this growth will only continue, magnifying the opportunity for e-commerce but also the challenges ahead.

For merchants, the rapid shift from in-store to online has made an e-commerce platform a business necessity. Retailers that had previously sat on the sidelines are now forced to reckon with a new reality. Meanwhile, those that already had strong web platforms are quickly working to improve them. Regardless of their prior embrace of the stage of e-commerce, all retailers now recognize that a dynamic online presence is critical to survival. They also recognize that shifting toward online comes with new complications.

That’s where software companies have an important role to play. This year has seen a surge of new software offerings aimed at modernizing, expanding and fixing shortcomings in merchants’ online platforms. Even though e-commerce technology remains a work in progress, the pace of progress has been brisk.

Take fraud for example, which becomes more complex and more prevalent as shoppers are no longer physically present at checkout. Credit card fraud is easier to execute online than in a store, making it a serious pain point for retail. And a costly one, at that. Merchants are responsible for fraud prevention and have to deal with the ultimate compromise of taking on more risk or tightening controls with the consequence of turning away paying customers. Fraud eats