eCommerce After COVID-19: Here’s How It Could Look

There’s no denying that the ongoing pandemic has affected everyone in every aspect of life. From business to pleasure, COVID-19 has swept through our lives. Forcing us to figure out new norms of living.

With the situation constantly changing and now varying in different cities and countries, for the most part, it does look like we’re over the worst of it. But, we’re not scientists. The pandemic has hit the eCommerce industry in so many different ways. Sadly for some smaller stores, it has forced them to close the shutters, others have adapted seeing some stores change their products to help out and some have seen an influx of conversions due to us all being stuck at home.

But what does the eCommerce landscape look like after Coronavirus? Is much going to change? Will there be a big difference in the way online shoppers buy?

Here’s what eCommerce could look like after COVID-19:

Coronavirus and Panic Buying

As the news of COVID-19 swept across the world, people started to stock up. Remember walking through the store and seeing empty shelves? Brick-and-mortar stores were hit hard and struggled to keep up with the demand.

It was quite a scary time for many as nobody knew what was happening and how to deal with it safely. People began to over-prepare and crowd mentality started to set in.

As the COVID-19 pandemic started to normalise and we all made adjustments, many of us had questions of whether it’s safe to order online. Postal services and businesses adapted, implementing social distancing measures during delivery and collection to help keep us safe whilst keeping businesses running.

COVID-19: Shopping Behaviour

Shopping behaviours are changing as a result of Coronavirus. Data shows that changes are not only based on generational differences but gender too.

Forbes survey data shows that women are more concerned about the effects of COVID-19. The data also shows that men are more likely to have it impact their shopping behaviours. 36% of men, compared to 28% of women, reported it affecting how much they are spending on experiences (travel, restaurants, entertainment, etc.).

The survey also found that men have been shopping online more than women to avoid the high street. Going forward, this is only likely to grow. Depending on where you are in the world, many high streets, stores and shopping centres are closed or have social distancing guidelines in place. It’s very likely that going forward we’ll see more people shopping online rather than going out due to the convenience and new measures brought into place by many businesses.

Another finding by the survey is that men have taken advantage of buy online pick up in-store schemes, the popularity of this will likely rise as we start to ease measures.

As we spend more time at home, we have more time to shop online. The pandemic has seen people shop more online than ever before and this is only likely to grow as many of us are experiencing online shopping to an extent that we’ve never done before.

We have also seen a shift in the way shoppers are buying. With the announcements from Shopify, more brands have moved to social selling with live streaming becoming very popular for brands to do and for consumers to watch.

COVID-19 Affects on Ecommerce Revenue

Brick-and-mortar stores have been some of the hardest-hit throughout the pandemic. With fewer people going out to shop, there has been a significant drop-off in brick-and-mortar shopping. As a result, more and more are turning to online to buy necessities and products they would usually buy in-store.

Although some industries have seen a significant spike in conversions, eCommerce sales have stayed pretty much the same. Industries seeing the most conversions throughout the pandemic are stores that sell household goods and groceries. A recent survey by Engine found that people are spending on around 10-30% more online. In the second week of March, grocery e-commerce soared.

Subscriptions Services Could Become the New Norm

Whilst general eCommerce sales haven’t seen much of uptake during the pandemic, there is a new buying option that certainly has.

Over the past few years, subscription services have seen an uptake in general and the pandemic has only accelerated this. For merchants, subscription services are a great way to have a more hands-off approach with your product and make things more automated. For customers, it’s really convenient to be able to subscribe to a product as they pay a set monthly fee and receive a new product every month.

Performance branding company WITHIN has been keeping track of the effects of COVID-19 on eCommerce, with comprehensive data across specific sectors. This is what their conversations show:

Source: WITHIN

eCommerce Product Category Shake-up

People’s purchasing choices over recent months have been largely based on their local circumstances. As a result, merchants are changing their store categories to compensate for ever-changing consumer purchasing behaviour.

Market research company Nielsen has identified six key consumer behaviour categories as a result of COVID-19

  • Proactive health-minded buying (purchasing preventative health and wellness products).
  • Reactive health management (purchasing protective gear like masks and hand sanitizers).
  • Pantry preparation (stockpiling groceries and household essentials).
  • Quarantine prep (experiencing shortages in stores, making fewer store visits).
  • Restricted living (making much fewer shopping trips, limited online fulfilment).
  • A new normal (return to daily routines, permanently altered supply chain).

Purchasing behaviours are very likely to change even more as we progress through the pandemic and start to get back to some form of normality.

As we work our way through these strange times, merchants are constantly having to adapt to compensate for social distancing measures and consumer buying patterns. It’s very likely that we will see more customers shift to buying online on a more frequent basis.

With the demand that comes from more consumers, technology, marketing and efficiency are likely to evolve even more. Putting more focus on consumers receiving their products faster.

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