Much has been said about the pandemic’s wide-ranging effects on the digital economy, yet when it comes to business, even where an online-only model may not be workable, businesses are seeing the benefits of increased digitalisation.

Speaking within the Cover Story for the recent Digital Island magazine, Jonathan Shaw, Executive Chairman of Retail Marketing Ltd, which operates and owns all Welbee’s supermarkets, (recently rebranded from Valyou, Park Towers, Tower and Trolees supermarkets) says the increase in customer usage on the Group’s online platforms during the pandemic was immediate.

As things return to normal, he expects most customers will continue to combine online and in-person shopping to some degree.

Mr Shaw argues that, given Malta’s small size and population, online business may not be solely sufficient to justify the logistical set-up and operational costs that come from running a business online. As a result, and speaking for the supermarket sector specifically, he believes both online and conventional modes of shopping will continue to be needed.

“Yet, the more of your business can be conducted online, then the more likely you are to have the necessary clout to invest in state-of-the-art online platforms and enhanced logistical operations,” he adds. “And this is what will ensure your online business can be a success going forward.”

Doubling down on that, Mr Shaw stresses that online sales are no longer just a segment to be considered but an integral part of the company as a whole. “COVID has changed things forever. It has completely accelerated the way we operate and placed a bigger emphasis on the business of experience across multiple sectors,” he adds. “Online business is certainly here to stay.”

This interview forms part of a larger cover story which appeared on the latest edition of Digital Island magazine.

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