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The Covid Digital Embrace – smart phone usage during Covid 

Written by Laura Brown
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Smart phone usage during the pandemic

The pandemic has affected our daily lives in many ways and has accelerated our adoption of online digital services and smart phone usage; a staggering 3.7 million UK adults used online banking for the first time ever.

How often did you used to shop online BC (Before Covid) – do you shop more now and make use of such as online essential services such as banking and doctors or leisure and entertainment? I would hazard a guess and say ‘yes, you probably use online services more than previously.’

It probably comes as no surprise to learn that UK consumers spend an extra day online per month so far in 2021 which equates to a daily average of six hours 26 minutes, up from a pre-pandemic five hours 28 minutes. Smart phone usage during the pandemic surged!

It’s certain that the UK lockdowns pushed this increase of digital engagement, driving the nation to stay connected with family, friends and the rest of the world via apps and social media. In December 2020 it was reported that Google had the highest share of internet traffic, with Wikipedia, BBC.co.uk and Amazon following closely behind. YouTube and Facebook were the only two social media platforms appear in the Top 10, ranking 5th and 6th respectively.

So what does this mean for businesses in a post-Covid world?

Companies had to pivot to find a way to continue doing business to ensure survival, for example dine-in restaurants offering take-away and delivery services or project-based furniture companies delivering working-from-home packages for clients’ employees. The businesses that survived and thrived were able to successfully adapt their business model, as well as embracing the functionalities the smart phone in people’s pockets offer.

Supermarket stalwart Sainsbury’s ecommerce Click and Collect service evolved during the pandemic, increasing  from a small amount of collections per hour from 1 delivery van parked in a designated spot in the car park to numerous car spaces, allowing more customers per hour to collect their online shopping. Adapting the convenient Click and Collect service in response to Covid-19 allowed Sainsbury’s shoppers avoid going inside the supermarket and therefore reducing close contact with others while still being able to pick up their groceries.

One of my personal favourite Covid success stories is The Cat Burglar Dough Co, an artisan doughnut company in West Sussex. The small business was launched during the first lockdown because the owners simply couldn’t get their hands on a decent doughnut, so they filled that (doughnut) hole! The business’ message was clear, the website ready for action and the supply chain was in sync, which meant the online business rapidly grew in 6 months and they now have a head office premises in Littlehampton. The company currently supplies many local shops, cafes and restaurants with handmade vegan doughnuts as well as delivering direct to consumers’ homes.

The hospitality industry is bouncing back after lockdowns and restrictions and most pubs, cafes and restaurants are using smartphone technology to conduct business such as QR code menus on each table and online card payment apps. This new streamlined way of service enables patrons to keep their distance from others and helps to ensure everyone’s safety. Despite restrictions being lifted in July 2021, many premises have continued to keep these measures in place.

Could you have survived the last 18 months without your digital devices and internet connection? I imagine it would have been a lot harder to manage the lockdowns and home-schooling with no access to virtual classrooms, streaming platforms, social media, digital connections to family and friends, online shopping or even being able to work from home. I am very thankful that I live in a digital age.

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