Meta: The fairly recent boom of e-commerce as a result of novel coronavirus will continue to change the stay at home game. It’s likely that businesses that are quick to strategically move their trades online will survive now and post-pandemic.
The continued spread of novel COVID-19 has impacted every part of our lives, from how we interact with each other to places we can go to priorities we have, and to the way we spend our time and money. There’s no escaping it. This unprecedented spread of coronavirus is affecting both commerce and e-commerce logistics.
With stores closed, more consumers are finding alternatives online, even for new categories of products such as groceries and household essentials. For a lot of consumers, the second boom of e-commerce has completely changed the way we are living and, in turn, helped in reinforcing the stay-at-home guidelines.
The key questions are, what’s the impact of coronavirus on e-commerce? How are small businesses comping with this shift? How are we paying for items? And could this shift online survive post-pandemic? We round up some of the key takeaways!
Increased Growth of Online Sales
According to data from Statista, retail platforms underwent a 6% global traffic increase from January 2020 and March 2020. Overall, retail sites generated nearly 15 billion visits in March 2020 alone, as shoppers looked for alternatives to make their daily purchases.
On March 17th, Logistiek.nl reported that e-commerce is expected to grow by 50%, with another statistics platform, Digital Commerce, also reported an expected 52% on online purchase due to coronavirus outbreak and spread.
To keep up with various governmental guidelines on limiting the spread of the virus, including social distancing and curfews, many people are avoiding physical stores, shifting to online as an idyllic way to shop for necessities to make this turbulent period more manageable.
Along with foodstuffs, data show that online sales of products such as hand sanitizers, disinfectant, hand soaps, tissues, vitamins, packaged water, and paper towels, have increased manifold.
Even some non-essential products are seeing increasing growth, some of up to 74%, reports Forbes Magazine. Loungewear, athletic products, and home goods (such as furniture) are some of the three categories wherein online retailers see record-breaking figures.
This change in the way consumers shop is causing marketers to ‘reallocate spend’ towards digital advertising that promotes the path to buying, retreating from the usual ‘return to brand building’ advertisement.
The Pandemic is Compelling Digital Migration
For businesses to survive and succeed, a shift to digital marketing and retailing platforms is progressively becoming a necessity. Small businesses are considering how to capture shoppers within their own categories right now using a variety of digital platforms.
Instead of creating new websites from scratch, small businesses are looking at social media platforms as the most viable options to move their businesses. Platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have become today’s vital market places.
Today, millions of small business owners are using WhatsApp Business Application to advertise, connect with, and inspire their local communities to purchase their products. WhatsApp business account is similar to the regular WhatsApp in terms of look and feel, which means business owners can easily use the platform for marketing their products.
But the most beneficial feature for small businesses is that the platform is free to download, which makes their advertisement initiatives absolutely free. Currently, WhatsApp has over 1.6 billion users; its ease of use makes it a near-ubiquitous mobile application in any country. The platform is not only used for promotion and marketing, but also for customer support, customer communication, and internal team communication.
Like WhatsApp, small businesses are also turning to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to promote and sell their products during this plaque. Although these platforms require a small effort compared to WhatsApp in terms of creating attractive ads and paying a small fee for advertisement, they tend to give greater results in terms of consumer reach and conversion.
However, small businesses are required to grow their accounts as well in order to boost sales. This may demand partnering with social media influencers to influence the purchasing decisions of consumers, even in gloomy times like these. Smart small businesses understand that people are today consuming more data online than never before, which makes social media platforms ideal for marketing and promotion!
The Rise of Digital and Cashless Payments
This disease is not only challenging the platforms through which consumers shop, but also how they pay for their commodities and services. We know that droplets containing coronavirus can stay of surfaces up to 9 hours (some reports indicate up to 12 days), which has made contactless payment the most preferred mode of payment for purchased goods and ordered services.
Cashless payments such as mobile money, PayPal, credit/debit card transfers, and others have received a major boost during the pandemic, viewed by consumers as the best way to pay for both online and in-store purchases. For online purchases, consumers are shown to prefer mobile payment methods that have the most robust protection both in terms of security and privacy.
COVID-19 will Provide Long-term Boost to E-commerce
Will this second boom of e-commerce survive post-pandemic? Specialists say that coronavirus has provided a long-standing boost for e-commerce to thrive. However, this will only apply for businesses, small and large, that can stay in business in what is going to be a rocky economy.
For small businesses, there is also a threat from large corporations that are also looking to shift their business in the online realm. Amazon, for example, is seizing the epidemic as an opportunity to take more market share, which will considerably impact small businesses who are also looking to migrate online.
With increased online shopping, there is a good reason why competition is cut-throat. E-commerce will simply progressively oblige people to stay at home, and the firms that gain market share, through business efficiency and cost reduction, will win the race!