How COVID-19 changed e-commerce for good - interview

Webzie CEO weighs in on the current state of e-commerce, how it was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the future of the online commerce industry.

 Online shopping illustrative.  (photo credit: ROBBERT NOORDZIJ/FLICKR)
Online shopping illustrative.
(photo credit: ROBBERT NOORDZIJ/FLICKR)

Elad Vardi, the CEO and founder of Webzie, an e-commerce platform, designed it with speed and efficiency in mind.

To date, the service boasts very high Google ratings and has received much positive customer feedback. Before founding Webzie, Vardi co-founded Yalla.co.il in 2010, which quickly set the precedent for Israeli e-commerce sites, hosting tens of thousands of stores’ online counterparts for years.

Vardi offered his insight regarding the current state of e-commerce, how it was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the future of the online commerce industry.

In today’s commercial landscape, how critical is it for a business to have an e-commerce platform?

In the past an online store or e-commerce site was only “nice to have,” but during the COVID-19 pandemic period, especially due to the traffic restrictions and the desire to avoid physical contact, the e-commerce site has become the business itself. That is why e-commerce sites have actually become crucial and mandatory.

 Webzie CEO and founder Elad Vardi. (credit: MICHAL VARDI) Webzie CEO and founder Elad Vardi. (credit: MICHAL VARDI)

accustomed to online shopping

Since the corona period lasted over two years, market education of the population has already been carried out worldwide: people have become accustomed to ordering online – and have been exposed to convenience, to price comparisons, etc. So even now when corona seems to be declining, most clients are expected to continue and order online.

A store without an e-commerce website is at a disadvantage over the competition. Even when a customer arrives physically – many times his visit started by searching the desired product on the internet and on its site first.

That said, how has COVID-19 affected the critical balance between physical presence and online presence for businesses?

The trend all over the world was a massive growth both in the amount of stores that went online and in the amount of purchases, and this was directly affected by the corona. It can be seen on other platforms such as Shopify – that the number of stores that joined during the COVID-19 pandemic tripled the amount of stores it had before COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent days we are seeing some recovery of the physical world, of course after the weakening of corona due to production of [things like] vaccines and quick tests, and we can see there is a certain transition of balance back to physical presence. Still, the expectation is that, because people have become accustomed to online shopping and have been exposed to its benefits, the return of the balance will be small and limited, and it will not return back to what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where do you see the e-commerce industry in 5 years? Are brick-and-mortar stores a thing of the past?

I think stores that are purely physical, without e-commerce activity belong to the past. Already in the corona period many of them have become extinct, and those who haven’t have suffered a great loss of income and were left behind by their competitors who had online stores.

As for today, in most cases physical presence is not super important for clients. That is, even if I have a pet store or an electrical store near my house, its physical proximity no longer gives a real advantage over a more remote store in another city, or another country.

I anticipate that in the coming years physical stores will not disappear from the world. The business still has to work from a physical location, a website that has a physical store is perceived as more reliable and there is somewhere to turn to, but again there should be symbiosis with online activity and no reliance solely on physical customer traffic.