The COVID – 19 global pandemic is one of the defining events of 2020, with implications that may be seen throughout the decade. The entire world is on lockdown, and the day-to-day lives of people have come to a standstill. The concept of work from home is gaining popularity due to the lockdown. Retail businesses are affected to the extent that many of them have closed temporarily or permanently. The shopping behavior of customers changed overnight. There is a change in what they are buying, when, and how. Many businesses are trying to leverage an online shopping platform’s benefits by approaching top eCommerce development companies to create their website. However, before discussing the impact of COVID – 19 on the eCommerce industry, it is essential to understand the concept of panic buying in times of pandemic.
Panic Buying & COVID – 19
When WHO declared it a global pandemic, people worldwide reacted by stocking up on things. The retail stores soon ran out of medical supplies like masks and hand sanitizers and household essentials like toilet paper. They didn’t have enough stock to fulfill the demand. Now, why did people react in such a manner? Well, humans respond to a crisis in different ways. When faced with an uncertain situation, they try to do whatever it takes to feel in control again.
Retail therapy is a response to different types of personal crises. But in the case of a pandemic, there is more to it. For instance, with COVID – 19, there is a lot of uncertainty, and people are receiving contradictory information from multiple sources. So, when people hear things from numerous sources, they tend to over-prepare rather than under-prepare. The second factor is the crowd mentality. Looking at other people stocking up items and scarcity of necessary products contributes to validating stocking up.
Now that the concept of panic buying is clear, it will be easier to understand the Shift in the eCommerce industry due to COVID – 19.
The Shift in the eCommerce Industry
As the physical stores face a shortage of supplies and people are asked to stay indoors, it has resulted in a surge in online shopping. Research by Business Insider Intelligence and eMarketer analysts suggests that 74.6% of US internet users will now avoid going to the shopping centers or malls as the outbreak worsens. There is an exception here too. Only some eCommerce stores have seen an increase in their sales while the rest are either stable or facing a decline in sales. The sales of essential products like hygiene and food supplies have increased, whereas luxury items’ purchases decline.
Increasing Sales of Online Grocery Stores
The lockdown situation across the globe has forced more and more people to stay at home. More people are turning to online grocery stores for their supply of essential food items. As per Adobe analysis, the sale of canned goods and shelf-stable items like rice, oatmeal, pasta, etc., has increased by 69% and 58%, respectively. The reason is quite simple. These items are commonly used in emergency preparation.
A Rise in Demand for Personal Protective Equipment
Both medical and government authorities are urging people to maintain hygiene and not touch their faces. As people follow all government norms, there is a rise in demand for protective products like masks, sanitizers, and gloves. Offline retailers have a tough time to fulfill the increasing demand for protective products, so the millennials chose to purchase these products online. As per WHO, approximately 89 million medical masks are required each month, the demand for examination gloves is 76 million per month, and for goggles, it’s 1.6 million per month.
The surge in Medical Estores
There is a wave of panic among the people as they have to stay indoors inevitably and self-quarantine if there are minor symptoms of COVID – 19. As this is engraved in people’s minds, they are stocking medicines as a precaution. The analysis of eCommerce transactions by Adobe reveals that the sales of cold, cough, and flu medicines have risen to 152%.
Innovation in eCommerce
Innovation can be the much-needed ray of hope in the times of COVID – 19. Humans can adapt to the challenges that come their way and find new ways to solve them. As the disease is contagious, it forces innovators to develop new ideas where social distancing is maintained. This is a time where industry giants are exploring the possibility of drones and robots to deliver products. It may take some time to realize and use these things’ capabilities entirely, but it will be a revolutionary change in the eCommerce world.
To sum up, it can be said that as the world is struggling with COVID – 19, consumers are forced to change their shopping behavior by purchasing online. It is a benefit for the eCommerce industry, and they can really tap on this opportunity, but only if their target audience can easily find them. The eCommerce industry will have to use new marketing strategies as per the current scenario. Still, they need to continue implementing their SEO tactics to remain visible to their target audience.
In the long-term perspective, COVID – 19 will irreversibly change the method of business and how they compete in the upcoming decade. It remains the responsibility of eCommerce entrepreneurs to understand and fulfill their customers’ needs without burning a hole in their pockets. This will help them earn the trust of their customers. Last but not least, in this uncertain scenario, there are still opportunities. It will take a slightly different mindset and approach to achieve the desired profitability for an eCommerce business.