How to increase your online reach for the new normal

Nov 12 2020 | PayPal editorial staff

How has Covid-19 changed your business? The pandemic is changing customers’ shopping behaviour and will continue to do so next year. Therefore, small businesses need to pivot to a new normal. Is your business ready for 2021?
We can probably all agree that 2020 has been a strange year.

Without a doubt, Covid-19 has changed the way that we live and the way that we shop. Many businesses in sectors like hospitality, entertainment and the arts, and physical retail suffered badly as people were unable to go out and do the things they normally enjoy. Global restaurant dining has decreased by 27%1 while income for the travel and tourism industry is expected to be 42% lower than in 2019.2 Offline, non-food retail is expected to decrease by 20%, year-on-year.3

All over the world, even before the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers had shifted to shopping more online. By the end of May 2020, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), reported that online orders had more than doubled in North America, grown by 70% in Asia-Pacific and by 50% in Europe.4

Many businesses are responding to this change by reinventing or rebalancing their sales towards online.

But is selling online right for your business?

You don’t need to have a physical retail store to benefit from selling online. In fact, you don’t even need to sell physical goods. The pandemic has made many businesses think creatively about how they can sell online and meet customer’s changing expectations.

If you sell offline, adding an online channel can help you sell products that are already in your inventory, as well as catering to your customers preferred payment methods.

If you sell services and don’t have a physical product, is there an opportunity for you to offer that service online? For example, many training businesses have moved their classroom training to online facilities like Zoom. Consider whether you can sell gift certificates, vouchers or other future-package offerings.

If you already sell online, you can look to maximise your reach by using new channels, targeting different markets or adopting new digital strategies.

“I wanted to disrupt the packaging industry by creating a natural alternative to single use plastics. Ecoware makes 100% biodegradable food packaging. COVID has severely affected consumer demand. We operate in the F&B packaging space and our customers in hospitality, travel and catering were the first casualties of COVID - and will probably be the last to recover. We export to over 15 countries, but during the pandemic logistics were impacted. However, there’s hope. With many working from home, families are eating in more. As a result, we are seeing increased B2C demand, via our e-commerce site. In the long run we hope this will increase awareness of our products and drive sustainability from the ground up.”
Rhea, Owner of Ecoware

Whether your business is just starting its ecommerce efforts or already has an online presence, it makes sense to consider every opportunity to reach new customers. Here are a few suggestions as to how you can get started.

Explore new channels.

If you sell products or services to your customers, it’s worth exploring as many ways as possible to reach those customers; on your own website, on marketplaces, and on social media. Each has its advantages and often appeal to different markets.

1.) If you already have your own website, whether it is hosted on an ecommerce platform or not, you can enhance the shopping experience you offer – and reach new customers – by making sure your site is optimised for global shoppers and giving them a faster way to pay.

Adding PayPal as a payment option to your checkout or product page is a quick way to increase your sales and get higher conversions on your website. Research shows that when PayPal is presented as a clear option on product and cart pages, half of shoppers spend more at checkout, leading to a 23% increase in incremental sales on both desktop and mobile.5

By streamlining your checkout experience with PayPal, you can make it easier for customers to buy from you locally or abroad without the need to type in personal or payment details every time. Simply copy and paste a few lines of HTML code into your website editor to get PayPal Checkout working on multiple platforms.

2.) If you need a website, consider starting with an ecommerce website builder or an ecommerce platform. This may be a faster way to get a website up and running compared to creating and coding one from scratch.
A few benefits of having your own website include:
  • Owning and building your brand credibility
  • Gaining a wider demographic and geographical reach
  • Managing the customer experience and relationships
  • Building loyalty with customer lists and referrals
Platforms like Wix are customisable and compatible with business services including accounting, inventory management, marketing and shopping cart systems. The way your shopping cart functions becomes particularly important if you need to process things like subscription payments. PayPal is built into many ecommerce platforms so that you can easily set up the store you need with a trusted payment provider. These include Shopify, WooCommerce and Wix.

Check out the various partners that PayPal works with to help get your website site up and running as quickly as possible.

3.) Online marketplaces have millions of users around the world and can be a quick way to reach new markets. They are fast to set up, have international reach and a ready-made audience. Often, they can also help you with logistics and promoting your business.

4.) Social media is becoming a popular sales channel, social commerce is growing rapidly with 1 in 3 consumers, and the same proportion of businesses, saying they use it.6 In India, 57% of shoppers say they have used social commerce recently.7  If your business has an established social media following, consider selling there too. Creating and using a makes it simple and secure for your customers to pay on social media.
“I founded The Atelier & Co. 7 years ago. I‘ve planned some of the most elaborate events this part of the world. The COVID situation has heavily impacted how we function. A large part of what we do is dependent on gatherings and travels, both of which are currently restricted. We've pivoted and have since switched our focus to our e-commerce floral gifting arm, investing heavily in our web store. Personally, and professionally, I’ve streamlined and done away with non-essentials. The team and I are forging ahead with the realisation that you actually need very little to thrive”
Lelian, Owner of The Floral Atelier

Reach a global audience.

Global cross-border online sales are growing at twice the rate of domestic online sales8 and even before Covid-19, the market was worth an estimated US$412 billion.9

As countries continue to face restrictions into next year, we can expect online shopping and sending gifts overseas to be the new normal way to connect with loved ones afar, especially across big holidays and celebrations such as Christmas, Chinese New Year, Singles Day, Diwali or Three Kings Day. This can open new opportunities for businesses to target international sales.

However, cross border shoppers may not feel confident if they are unable to pay in their preferred currency or unfamiliar with the payment option provided. In recent research, 1 in 5 consumers said they had abandoned a purchase because their preferred payment method wasn’t available. The largest percentage of mobile shoppers said they use PayPal for purchases via mobile (53%) followed by the next most-used payment type: credit card (44%).10

Furthermore, online shoppers are significantly more likely to buy abroad if they can do so in their own currency.11 Many payment providers allow you to list prices in different currencies, so opt in if you have the option. With PayPal, you can accept payments in over 25 currencies, helping you to become an instant global business and connecting you with over 340 million PayPal customers across the world when you add PayPal Checkout to your site.

Whichever markets and channels you choose to increase your online presence, consider the following when setting your business up for success in the new normal.

Plan ahead. Proactively set aside time on how best to increase your online presence in a way that meets the needs of your chosen market. 2020 was a very reactive year for many businesses. Think about your available budget, how much money, time and resources you might need to manage the different online aspects of your business. Consider the software and payment providers you need to provide the online experience you want.

Make it easy for people to pay. Reach all types of customers by enabling frictionless payments and letting them pay the way they want to pay, whether that be online, mobile or within an app.

Look for simple and single integration. Some payment solutions are complicated and time-consuming to implement on your website. With PayPal Checkout, all that’s required is one integration that keeps it up to date from there, so there’s nothing else you need to do. It can be as simple as copy/pasting a line of code which you or your developer can do. Or you can easily integrate it on your shopping cart through an ecommerce platform if you’re not technically minded.


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[1] Statista (2020),
[2] Statista (2020),
[3] Forrester (2020),  
[4] OECD (2020), Connecting Businesses and Consumers During COVID-19: Trade in Parcels,
[5] Forrester Total Economic Impact study, Q1 2018
[6] PayPal (2019), PayPal mCommerce Study.
[7] PayPal (2019), PayPal mCommerce Study.
[8] OECD (2020), Connecting Businesses and Consumers During COVID-19: Trade in Parcels,
[9] PayPal (2020), PayPal Borderless Commerce Report,
[10] PayPal (2019), PayPal mCommerce Study. On behalf of PayPal, Ipsos interviewed a quota sample of c.2,000 (22,000 total) consumers (aged 18-74) who owned or used a smartphone and c. 300-500 (4,602 in total) business influencers or decision makers who sell or take payments online to Consumers (and businesses) in 11 countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, India, Japan, US, Mexico and Brazil). Interviews were conducted online between July 23 and August 25, 2019. Data was weighted in Australia on age and income to replicate study conducted previously. No other weighting was applied.
[11]PayPal commissioned Ipsos MORI PayPal Insights 2019. N=34,000, 31 markets. Online survey of adults (aged 18+) between March – May 2018.  

Frequently asked questions.

The PayPal Developer Portal offers support for developers who have questions about technical topics, such as APIs or integration. Below is a list of common topics searched for by developers. You can also browse and search on the Developer Portal for additional topics.

Encrypted Website Payments
To make online payments more secure, you can make Encrypted Website Payment buttons that rely on standard public key encryption for protection.

Identity API
PayPal offers a secure commerce Identity API that lets your customers sign in to your web site using their PayPal credentials.

Instant Payment Notification
Instant Payment Notification is a message service that automatically notifies merchants of events related to PayPal transactions.

Merchants, developers, and business solution providers use Invoicing APIs to automate the creation, delivery, tracking, and reconciliation of invoices with an integrated payments solution.

Mobile SDK
Accept PayPal, credit cards and other payments methods through mobile apps.

Name-Value Pair (NVP) API
Information and support on name value pairs and NVP SDKs.

PayPal Checkout
PayPal Checkout gives your buyers a simplified and secure checkout experience that keeps them local to your website or mobile app throughout the payment process.

Payflow Gateway
Payflow Pro is a high performance TCP/IP-based client-server architecture solution. It includes a secure payment gateway that gives merchants total control over the payment process.

PayPal Sandbox Support
Information and support for users testing in the PayPal Sandbox environment.

Shopping Carts
The shopping cart system allows buyers to select multiple items on your website and pay for them with a single payment.

Permissions Service API
PayPal's permissions service enables you to request and obtain authorization to make API calls and take action on behalf of your customers.

The PayPal SOAP API is based on open standards known collectively as web services, which include the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Services Definition Language (WSDL), and the XML Schema Definition language (XSD).

Testing Your Apps in Sandbox
A guide for developers testing their apps in the PayPal Sandbox environment.

Virtual Terminal
Information about PayPal's Virtual Terminal - a web-based application that processes credit and debit cards, replacing swipe machines.

Website Payments Pro
PayPal's Website Payments Pro is an API-based solution that enables merchants and developers to accept credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal payments directly on their website.
PayPal Payments Standard
You can accept credit cards online easily and offers a streamlined checkout experience to customers using mobile devices.
Website Payments Pro – Hosted Solution is a customisable payment system that allows Hong Kong merchants to accept payments funded by all major credit and debit cards. You can create the online checkout experience that’s right for your customers – from branding, look-and-feel, to back-end integration.

Here are some features and benefits of Website Payments Pro – Hosted Solution:
  • Easy integration with popular shopping carts.
  • Keep your customer engaged with your site through the checkout.
  • Accept credit and debit cards in 16 currencies.
  • Accept payments over the phone, fax, or mail orders with Virtual Terminal.
To learn more about the product, fees, and application details, please visit Website Payments Pro – Hosted Solution.

PayPal Seller Protection helps protect sellers in the event a buyer lodges a claim that the payment was unauthorized, or a buyer lodges a chargeback with their card issuer claiming they did not receive the item. Unless already available in your market, for all transactions made on or after 13 April 2020, Seller Protection will be extended to intangible items such as travel, ticketing services and digital goods. With PayPal Seller Protection, you may be protected for the full amount of all eligible transactions.
Below are some of the main requirements you need to meet to benefit from Seller Protection:

  • The transaction must be marked as eligible or partially eligible for Seller Protection on your Account Transaction Details page.
  • Your account must be in good standing.
  • You must respond to our requests for documentation and other information within the required timeframe. 
For physical goods:
  • You must ship the item to the address on the Transaction Details page.
  • You must provide proof of shipment, proof of delivery, or signed delivery confirmation where applicable. 
For intangible or digital goods: 
  • You must provide provide compelling evidence that the intangible item or digital good was delivered or provided as described, or that the service was completed as described. Compelling evidence can include any evidence available to prove that your buyer received the goods or services or benefited from the transaction.
  • You must comply with any terms and conditions that apply to the purchase.
  • You must comply with all technical integration requirements that were specifically notified to you by PayPa
Seller Protection will not apply to:
  • Claims or Chargebacks submitted on the basis the item was ‘Significantly Not as Described’
  • Items that you deliver in person, including at a retail point of sale
  • Items equivalent to cash, including but not limited to gift cards
  • Donations
  • Financial products or investments of any kind
  • A payment sent using PayPal’s friends and family functionality
  • A payment made using PayPal’s Account Optional (or Guest) Checkout, PayPal Payouts, Mass Pay, PayPal Direct Payments, Website Payments Pro or Virtual Terminal Payments, PayPal Business Payments and PayPal Here
  • For shipped items, any item that is not shipped to the recipient's shipping address on the Transaction Details Page. We recommend that you do not use a shipping service arranged by the buyer, so that you will be able to provide valid proof of shipping and delivery.

There are no limits or caps associated with Seller Protection. However, PayPal reserves the right to withdraw Seller Protection if the Seller abuses the privileges offered. In the event of withdrawing Seller Protection, PayPal will communicate the same before taking any action.
For full eligibility requirements, see the full Seller Protection Policy terms in the PayPal User Agreement, but please note that we will not update the User Agreement immediately when making this change. 
Depending on when you view the User Agreement it may still indicate that intangible items services and digital goods are ineligible, which will no longer be correct, however all other exclusions will remain in effect.

Duplicate Payment
Physical Item
When a buyer claims they made a duplicate payment, provide evidence that two transactions took place. Examples may include:
  • Tracking numbers verifying postage of different goods.
  • Copies of sales receipts, invoices, or contracts with the buyer.
Service/Virtual Item
  • Compelling evidence that proves different items were delivered, used, provided, or services completed.
  • Tracking numbers verifying postage of different goods.
  • Copies of sales receipts, invoices, or contracts with the buyer.
Always include any correspondence you had with the buyer as they worked to resolve the issue with you.

Incorrect Transaction Amount

If the buyer claims they were charged an incorrect amount, provide evidence that the transaction was for the correct amount. Examples may include:
  • Copies of sales receipts, invoices, or contracts with your buyer.
  • Any correspondence you had with the buyer in question as they worked to resolve the issue with you.

Paid by other means
Physical Item
If the buyer claims they paid by means other than PayPal and this transaction is a duplicate payment, provide evidence that two transactions took place or that you didn’t receive payment by any other means. Examples may include:
  • Postage tracking numbers verifying postage of different goods.
  • Copies of sales receipts, invoices, or contracts with your buyer.
  • Any correspondence you had with the buyer in question as they worked to resolve the issue with you.

Service/Virtual Item
Examples may include:
  • Compelling evidence that proves different items were delivered, used, provided, or services completed.
  • Copies of sales receipts, invoices, or contracts with your buyer.
  • Any correspondence you had with the buyer in question as they worked to resolve the issue with you.

Cancelled subscription

If the buyer claimed they cancelled their subscription or recurring billing but were still charged, please provide evidence that this charge occurred prior to cancellation or is otherwise valid. Examples may include:
  • Copies of sales receipts, invoices, or contracts with your buyer.
  • Any correspondence you had with the buyer in question as they worked to resolve the issue with you.
The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. The information in this article does not constitute legal, financial, IT, business or investment advice of any kind and is not a substitute for any professional advice. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, IT and legal advice before making any business decision.