Online businesses thrive under new attention

17 October 2020

Written by: Achol Arok

As online user activity increases during lockdown, this has given smaller online businesses the space to thrive. But are these business models sustainable after things go back to normal?

In the earlier stages of COVID-19, many were forced to revisit old hobbies in efforts of trying to entertain themselves within the confines of their homes. For 26-year-old Jasmine Caruana, this involved starting a business selling DIY home decorations and arts and crafts.

While many might complain about the dust collecting on their shelves, for Caruana it was handcrafted home decorations that occupied the free space around her home. Caruana and her mother had previously considered starting a business but never had the time to get around to it.

“Me and mum talked a little bit about it but we never thought we’d be here, it was just about that first step,” Caruana told upstart.

It only made sense for them to give it a shot when lockdown granted them some unplanned free time, so Caruana launched 7 Orchids.

“Lockdown has definitely helped. It’s made us sit down and, obviously because we’re stuck at home together, we talk about it more and really discuss the plan more. I think it’s helped many businesses to really evaluate and progress on their ideas.”

Dr Marthin Nanere, who specialises in business and marketing, believes that as much damage as the global pandemic has caused, it’s allowing people opportunities to thrive using a digital format.

“More and more millennials will be taking advantage of this platform, which they have already been using in the past but it’s going to be more intensive,” Dr Nanere told upstart.

“I think that’s a positive thing, online is going to be the new direction.”

Dr Nanere says that businesses of all sizes will have to adapt their business models to continues to meet the needs of their customers.

“It’s more convincing with the situation right now to focus on that part of a business,” he said.

“Before, marketing was more concerned with face-to-face business but with this COVID-19 there is no other option for them but online. Businesses have to think about how they can make things more attractive to their customers, they have to be more innovative in the way we use this online platform.”

Even without prior knowledge or experience in marketing, Caruana has been able to learn the basics from a mix of the internet and watching other businesses.

“It’s all just observing other people and seeing their tactics and using them for yourself. I’m finding it a lot of fun, it’s just like showing people what you’ve got,” she said.

Caruana says that learning about marketing has opened her eyes to think about things she didn’t think about before while using her personal social media.

“I feel like I have done pretty good I think there’s probably, little, little things I can learn like improve a little bit, but I think I’m for someone that’s never experienced it before.”

Despite the number of benefits Caruana saw in the opportunity of starting an online business during the pandemic, she was also cautious of the potential struggles. One of the main hurdles she hadn’t anticipated was how saturated the field would become. She has noticed a glut of small businesses on Instagram.

“Everyone’s got the same mindset when it comes to a business, especially with home crafts. Trying to find stock is the hardest thing. I can’t stress enough how hard it is to find the products you need.”

While overcoming those issues and revelling in her success, Caruana can’t help but think about what the future holds for her online business once things go back to normal. Considering she garnered most of the traffic during a time where social media usage is peaking, she says she’s expecting her business to struggle a little bit once everything goes back to normal.

“My category’s home decorations. Once things get back to normal everyone’s going to be focused on going out, going to concerts and having dinners out again. That’s where they’ll spend their money on so that will probably a little bit hard on us,” she said.

Dr Marthin doesn’t doubt the future of the online businesses that have been a product of lockdown. He says as long as they’re able to maintain a solid business structure, there’s no reason for them to not continue to thrive.

“I think these businesses can be sustainable. The consumer will react to however the business changes,” he said.

“The core of your business should address the needs of the customer. So, if they are doing that I think they will be fine.”


Achol Arok is a second-year Bachelor of Media and Communication (Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter @AcholArok.

Photo: Business Man with a credit card by rupixen available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.