Coronavirus Ecommerce Trends: Online Shopping Up for Now, Much Still Uncertain

The coronavirus has impacted every facet of people’s daily lives, including how they shop. While online purchases were already a normal part of consumers’ habits, the coronavirus’ contagion threat has made shoppers resort to eCommerce for most all their needs. So, what are some of the most interesting coronavirus eCommerce trends? There’s a lot of valuable data out there that shows just how companies and consumers are responding to the coronavirus.

New Data Shows Increase in Online Shopping, Most Significantly Food-Related

According to Statista, shopper intent has migrated online with a variety of increased purchasing in multiple categories. Consumers were asked if they deliberately went online to purchase certain products or services. Leading the way is restaurant delivery, followed by groceries, hygiene products, household cleaning items, clothing, and health products.

While food delivery was already seeing major gains as compared to on-premise sales, with DoorDash, GrubHub, and PostMates all offering convenience, most consumers have no choice in the matter. Those who enjoyed nights out now have to make do with takeout.

Grocery shopping had also begun to find its place in eCommerce, with most chains offering pick-up and delivery options. Now, with demand incredibly high, they are struggling to keep up. Prior to the coronavirus, online grocery shopping only accounted for about 10 percent of shopping. The industry was expecting growth in 2020, but not because of a pandemic.

Ecommerce Trends Show Direct to Consumer Sales Expected to Grow, But Face Challenges

In the realm of direct to consumer (DTC), defined as brands that sell directly to customers without a third party, eMarketer has released a forecast that sales will grow to $17.75 billion, up from $14.28 billion in 2019. Important to note is that these DTC numbers exclude events, food and drink services, gambling, and other “vice” good sales. Despite this strong growth, brands will still have to anticipate challenges.

Those challenges will likely be related to the current economic downturn, with consumers having less disposable income, as well as concerns about supply chains. Most DTC falls into a category of being non-essential. Additionally, some DTC brands are unprepared to manage higher demand, while others will find loyal customers going silent.

However, fashion brands are seeing an uptick with transactions up 23 percent in the last week of April, and with global sales up 63 percent since the pandemic’s arrival. Why are consumers spending on these things? There are a few hypotheses, including the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday, aggressive discounts, and the fact that more people are home and looking for an outlet with online shopping.

Pandemic Creates a “New Essentials” Spike of Online Sales

The things that shoppers once bought in-store, besides groceries, are now becoming the “new essentials,” defined as items people now have to or prefer to buy at home. Those items include technology, home furnishings, cosmetics, and sports equipment. According to data from analytics company Contentsquare, all these areas have seen increases since the outbreak. Ecommerce transactions for retail tech are up 84 percent, and home furnishings have increased by 115 percent.

It’s unknown how this trajectory will hold as most of the world remains on lockdown. Depending on the amount of time people are forced to be at home, online shopping could meet the expectations set out. Many variables will impact this, including how eCommerce brands shift their strategy, as well as unemployment numbers.

As some retailers begin to reopen stores, they are doing so with great caution while also expanding the way they can serve customers with more delivery options, as well as curbside pick-up. However, even if customers pick up their purchases, the origination is still online and counts toward their eCommerce numbers.

Coronavirus eCommerce trends are still very much in flux. With so many unknowns, the only thing that retailers can turn to for certainty is data. From this, they’ll then be able to pivot and evolve as needed, as they struggle to thrive and survive.

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