Impact of COVID-19 on eCommerce: How to Adapt your Digital Commerce Strategy

Impact of COVID-19 on eCommerce: How to Adapt your Digital Commerce Strategy

the-covid19-effect-on-ecommerce

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shown the world where we have gone with our interconnectedness and how small is our global village when it comes to fighting an evil that has shown up just overnight. It is obvious that the COVID-19 crisis will be the determining factor of our lives for not only the near future, for possibly throughout the decade.

How the conditions have changed is evident from the empty streets, the closed down shops and the deserted theatres. The effects of the pandemic are loud and clear in every aspect of human existence. People’s buying behavior is one of the aspects of life that has received a major hit from the coronavirus pandemic. Extensive surveys have presented a wide range of data revealing people’s altered choices during this isolation period in what they are buying, why they are buying, and how they are buying.

The nationwide lockdown in all affected countries has made people switch to online shopping with more effect than it was before. With all non-essential businesses being ordered to close down, consumer behavior has significant changes in buying patterns. Online shopping has definitely become the go-to place for buyers and hence it is advisable for brands to up their digital efficiency if they want to survive in the post-corona market wave.

Another point of relief for the public if the fact that receiving packages from eCommerce purchases or other sources is safe. The risk of COVID-19 infection from these packages is really low, as said by the World Health Organization.

Effects of Coronavirus on eCommerce revenue:

1. Grocery eCommerce

With lockdowns and movement restrictions across the world, grocery selling has seen a spike in eCommerce since March. Increased demand and out-of-stock scenarios in local shops have fueled this.

ecommerce-spendingSource: Common Thread Collective

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2. Other items on eCommerce:

The global lockdown has already started affecting people’s purchasing patterns. The fear of isolation from everything necessary has driven people to focus their purchases only on medicals, grocery and beverages, and other essential items only. While online shopping of essential items has gone up by several folds, non-essential items have greatly lost their market shares. The chart below demonstrates what and how the eCommerce sites are now selling/not selling.

ecommerce-consumer-salesSource: Common Thread Collective

3. Subscription-based services:

Staying at home 24×7 is undoubtedly difficult for the social animals that we are. The lack of being out on the roads, the craving of meeting people and visiting places can be a reason for developing stress. To avoid this and fulfill their need for entertainment, people have immensely indulged in subscription-based services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, and others.

Performance branding company WITHIN has carried out research to track the effects of COVID-19 on various business categories over the years. According to this research, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the below effect on subscription-based services:

covid-researchSource: WITHIN

According to a research by Adobe – the Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, the following statistics have been drawn from the eCommerce purchase scenario during the Coronavirus crisis:

  • A 20% increase in digital purchasing power
  • Surging sales for groceries, cold medication, fitness equipment and computers
  • A 62% increase in pickup in-store shopping.
  • Groceries as a percentage of the digital basket has grown to 8% from 6% in three years
  • Hand sanitizer, gloves, masks and anti-bacterial spray sales have jumped 807%
  • Toilet paper sales are up 231%
  • Fitness equipment sales such as kettlebells, dumbbells, stationary bikes and treadmills are up 55%

Apparel accounts for the largest share of online purchases with 23% followed by electronics at 16% and home and garden at 12%.

adobe-statsSource: Adobe

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How can Digital Marketers adapt to the crisis?

It is evident that eCommerce is the only option for buyers across categories at least until the lockdown is over and normalcy is regained in our regular lives. However, this crisis has come forth as a good opportunity for many online businesses to operate better. While some businesses have gone digital-only due to the COVID-19 crisis, many offline entities have considered and started taking their businesses to the digital platform. This is surely progress in the world of digital commerce.

This is also a crucial time for digital marketers to up their games. Mainstream strategies in digital marketing are sure to change as marketers shall come up with strategies suiting the prevailing crisis. Here are a few tips on how digital marketers should adapt to the crisis…

Efficiently managing PPC budget

It would be advisable NOT to switch off PPC campaigns totally. Only only is PPC one of the primary sources of business, but switching it off now and restarting later also means higher CPCs (as then we will have to go through the campaign’s ]initial learning phases all over again).

Instead, marketers can:

  • Check and cut back on non-essential keywords that generate lower conversion rates
  • Save the budget to be used on keywords that yield greater conversions

Retain organic visibility

Organic activity is a place that marketers cannot afford to lose out on, in this condition. Unlike PPC, SEO is a long-term strategy and the most important tool for organic visibility of a business. Now is the time to focus on better SEO even more than before because Google is most likely to tweak its algorithm now to make the best and most accurate information available to the public.

The lockdown is the time when people will search more than ever. Organic search is one of the most viable channels for businesses in any scenario at all, so organic visibility of a business is crucial right now.

Experience sharing through Digital PR

Businesses cannot stop telling stories during the coronavirus crisis. With offline procedures facing restrictions, it is a  great time for digital marketers to leverage Digital PR to their advantage.

Journalists too are on a lookout for telling positive and happy stories as a distraction from the tension of the Coronavirus impact. Informative, worthy stories and news articles are surely a welcome thought for news platforms and journalists amidst the present situation.

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Using Social Media to be useful to your audience

The number of people logging in to social media platforms and their social media screen times has taken a big leap since there has been a restriction on going outside the house. People are looking for news, entertaining and all sorts of engagement on social media, again, now more than ever.
This is the perfect time for digital marketers to revamp their social media strategies, or to start off with a social media strategy if a business has still not done so.

Brands must tweak their social media content at par with the current trends. Some tips regarding this are:

  • Brands must be helpful in giving out credible, detailed information to their customers. It is important that customers can have the full support of their preferred brands during this difficult condition and mutual trust can be developed.
  • Be available to customers through greater lengths of the day. Being there for customers from early morning hours to late evening hours is important as people across the globe have changed their work and personal life schedules.
  • Invest in, and help build communities for customers and people alike. This has the potential to boost engagement and enhance brand awareness.
  • Update customers on the recent biggest announcements and help them stay abreast with the needs of the hour.
  • Appreciate and celebrate people/entities who are contributing significantly in fighting the Coronavirus.
  • Give out offers that may help your customers in making their purchase decisions in these times.
  • Spread good words and good vibes. That’s what people need right now to combat the boredom and stress from the COVID-19 crisis.

In conclusion, this period of crisis has brought an immense opportunity for eCommerce stores and platforms to grow and prosper. All we need to do is to identify the specific needs and wants of our customers in this crisis and send them the message they want to hear. It is a great time for businesses to transform digitally and take full advantage of the opportunity amidst the adversity.

May we rise and shine!

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Shalini Saha

Shalini is a communications person. A philomath, she is driven by her yearn for exploring places, humans and lives.