How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Reshaping E-commerce

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, non-essential brick-and-mortar stores were forced to shut doors. Now, shoppers had to find a way to buy essential goods: through the internet.

According to the latest Global Shopping Index from Salesforce, the pandemic has caused e-commerce to boom. The number of unique digital shoppers rose by 40 percent year-over-year (YoY) in the first quarter of 2020.

How will the pandemic continue to reshape the e-commerce industry?

What does this mean for retailers?

With brick-and-mortar stores closing or limiting operations, consumers from across all demographics have turned to digital for their shopping needs.

According to Salesforce’s Global Shopping Index, between Q1 of 2019 and Q1 2020, retailers had a spike of 16 percent in digital traffic growth. According to the Q1 Shopping Index, the number of unique digital shoppers rose by 40 percent year-over-year.

The report added that brands and retailers that weren’t already weaving together their digital and physical operations have been adapting quickly. Companies are accelerating or retooling their operations to market their brands, deliver orders, and serve consumers with convenience. What this means is there’s a surge in demand for industries that support e-commerce, including digital marketing service providers and suppliers of flat shipping boxes.

Essential goods purchases go digital

The Q1 Shopping Index showed that the demand for essential goods has spiked to unprecedented levels. Online sales in certain categories, including groceries, medications, fitness equipment and computers have surged as a result of COVID-19.

Between January 1 and March 11, purchases of hand sanitizers, masks, gloves and anti-bacterial sprays saw an 807 percent jump in sales. During the same period, the online sales of toilet paper jumped by 231 percent, while sales of canned goods grew by 87 percent.

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Changed consumer behavior

A new study from Kantar found that the pandemic will have long-term effects on consumer shopping behavior. It found that six out of every 10 consumers intend to continue buying as much online once the pandemic has passed.

While spending has been mainly limited to essential goods, as much as 80 percent of consumers intend to shop for non-essential goods later in the year.

The study found that the non-essential categories which should see the biggest bounceback later in the year are home electronics and clothing, with 60 percent of respondents saying they plan to purchase goods in these areas later in the year.

More people are glued to their phones

People are spending a lot more time using their phones amid the COVID-19 lockdowns around the world. Australia, for example, has seen a daytime usage increase of 70 to 80 percent, compared to February.

Likewise, a separate report found that 55 percent of consumers are getting their news and alerts from their smartphones. With more people glued to their mobile phones, it makes sense for companies to turn digital in marketing their goods and services.

Harness social media to market your goods

All social apps have reported increased usage and engagement, and retailers ought to know that this increased usage also brought increased in-app spending. If you’re looking to connect to your audience, social media is the way to go.

TikTok continues to hold its spot at the top of the downloads chart. Back in November 2019, Tiktok had seen 80 million downloads in the US. The app has 26 million active users, each spending 46 minutes per day in the app.

It’s clear that the coronavirus crisis will bring a long-term boost for e-commerce businesses. So what does this mean? It might be worth investing in an e-commerce future for your business.

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