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.

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.

All PayPal accounts allow you to send and receive payments.

  • Personal: Recommended for individuals who shop and pay online, or wish to send or receive personal payments for shared expenses such as splitting of dinner bills or rental charges; for casual sellers or non-businesses who wish to get paid online, and who also make online purchases.
  • Business: Recommended for merchants who operate under a company/group name. It offers additional features such as allowing up to 200 employees limited access to your account and customer service email alias for customer issues to be routed for faster follow-ups.

For complete information on PayPal transaction fees, please see the fees section of our User Agreement or click Fees at the bottom of any PayPal webpage.

By linking your bank account or card to your PayPal account, you will never need to pull out your wallet and enter card numbers or any personal information when you make an online payment using PayPal. With just an email address and password, you can conveniently and securely checkout. If you are trying to make a payment, but don’t have sufficient funds in your PayPal balance, the transaction can be covered quickly and easily by your selected primary funding source (bank account or card).  

Bank account

Linking a bank account to a PayPal account is a convenient way to keep track of your spending. When you link your bank account, it automatically becomes the way you pay when you haven’t chosen a preferred payment method or your preferred payment method is unavailable and your PayPal account balance isn't enough to cover a transaction. You can easily select other available payment methods at checkout.

Once you link a bank account, paying with your bank is secure. Here’s why:

•    The recipient never sees your bank account information when you pay.
•    We send you a receipt every time a payment is made from your account so you can keep track of transactions.
•    We review all transactions and let you know if we notice unusual account activity.
•    Unauthorized payments are rare. But if an unauthorized payment is somehow sent from your PayPal account, you’re covered. We’ll reimburse you (typically within 10 business days after you notify us of the unauthorized payment) so you’ll have your money while we investigate the transaction.

Debit or credit card

You can link your card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express card) to send money to family and friends, or to pay for things.

To link your card to your PayPal account, the billing address on your card statement must match the address on your PayPal account.

You can add more than one card to your PayPal account but, for your security, a card can only link to one PayPal account at a time.

If your spouse linked your debit or credit card to their PayPal account, for example, they need to remove the card from their account before you can add it to yours.
For security reasons, you can only link a card that has a card verification number (also known as a CSC code). We ask you to enter the card verification number when you link the card to your PayPal account.

***PayPal does not charge a fee when you use your card to pay for goods, services, or eBay items.

If you use your card to send money to someone for personal reasons (not to pay for something), we charge a small fee.

You can pay the fee or ask the recipient to pay it. Note that your card issuer may charge a cash advance fee.
All US payment processors, including PayPal, are required by the Internal Revenue Service(IRS) to provide information to the IRS about certain customers who receive payments for the sale of goods or services through PayPal. Form 1099-K and B-Notice are tax forms which are applicable to holders of accounts both within and outside the United States since it pertains to income reporting for US persons/entities.

FATCA affects account holders that are outside the United States, and it requires PayPal to collect tax documents or certifications from account holders stating whether they are US persons. This includes, but is not limited to, business entities, and some individuals that open accounts outside the United States.

Tax Form 1099-K Tips:
  • If you feel there is a discrepancy in your tax Form 1099-K, please review your reconciliation report and provide us with the transaction ID(s) in question and the justification for why the transaction is being disputed. Click Contact at the bottom of any page to call or email us.
You can also view these additional 1099-K Help Center articles:
B-Notice Tips:
  • If there are any discrepancies with your tax identification number and legal name that was used by PayPal for tax Form 1099-K reporting filing with the IRS, you may receive an IRS B-Notice
  • The B-Notice mailing will provide you with all of the additional information we need from you.
    • If you received a 1st B-Notice (which happens the first year that the IRS identifies a mismatch in tax identification number/legal name), log in to your PayPal account and follow the Alert Notification to provide the requested information. You may need to download and fill out the IRS tax Form W-9 for PayPal to review.
    • If you received a 2nd B-Notice (which happens the second consecutive year that the IRS identifies a mismatch in tax identification number/legal name), you must provide either a copy of your Social Security Card (individuals or sole proprietors) or US IRS tax Letter 147C (entities). Log in to your PayPal account, and go to the Resolution Center to upload the document.
  • The IRS does not have an online solution for requesting a tax Letter 147 C; the IRS will mail or fax the letter to you. To contact the IRS for a Letter 147C, you should call the IRS's Business and Specialty Tax line at 1-800-829-4933 between 7am and 7pm, local time, Monday through Friday. Requesting a faxed copy may be the quickest manner to get a copy of the tax Letter 147C. You can also view our tax information page for more information.
  • Fully complete and sign the relevant form and upload it by logging into your PayPal account and following the Notification prompt.
  • Why did I receive an IRS B-Notice?

  • Only impactful for account holders outside of the United States.
  • PayPal must collect documentation such as certification of non-US status and either a tax Form W-9 for US persons or entities that are subject to US tax, or a tax Form W8BEN/W8BEN-E for non-US persons or entities that are not subject to US tax withholding and reporting.
  • Most business users who need to provide the requested information will be able to do so by logging into their PayPal account and following the notification prompts.
You can also view these additional FATCA Help Center articles:You can find more tax related information on the PayPal IRS tax website.
PayPal Instant Update API is a feature of Express Checkout that lets customers view shipping options, insurance choices, and tax totals at the beginning of the checkout process.

Studies show that buyers are more likely to complete checkout when more transaction details appear sooner and when there are fewer steps in the overall process. By providing important transaction details up front, Instant Update API makes checkout faster and simpler – two factors proven to boost customer sales.

Instant Update API supports Real-Time Shipping Options. This gives buyers more accurate shipping options based on actual cart items and ship-to addresses. The feature also supports Flat-Rate Shipping Options and third-party shipping and tax calculation.

To get started using Instant Update API, contact your developer/cart partner or visit PayPal Developer Central to learn more.


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.