The global pandemic has completely solidified the need for e-commerce. It used to be just one of many options we had when making a purchase; e-commerce instead became the primary method of shopping.
With all non-essential shops closed across the world for large swathes of 2020, and an increasing number of us concerned about social distancing, shopping online became the norm, and we saw dramatic e-commerce sales growth. However, this affected e-commerce differently across the world, with different nationalities, genders, ages and wealth groups spending and shopping differently during the pandemic. Some industries much better prepared to extend their digital offering than others.
Below, we’ll look at how Covid-19 changed mass-market and luxury e-commerce and whether its impact is here to stay.
Consumers in emerging economies have made the greatest shift to online shopping during the pandemic, a survey by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has found. Looking at 3,700 consumers in nine emerging and developed economies, including Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey, more than half of the survey’s overall respondents shop online more frequently and rely on the internet more for news, health-related information and digital entertainment since the pandemic started. However, the places which saw e-commerce increasing in popularity the most were China and Turkey, with the weakest rise in Switzerland and Germany, where more consumers were already shopping online.
The survey conducted by UNCTAD shows that online purchases have risen by 6-10% across most product categories, with the biggest increase seen across sectors such as IT and electronics, gardening and DIY, pharmaceuticals, education, household products and personal care products.
BigCommerce reports that month-over-month from February to March 2020 saw food and beverage e-commerce sales grow by 18.8%, also showing a big rise in downloads of apps that allow people to hire personal shoppers to prepare and, in some cases, deliver their grocery orders – for example, Shipt’s downloads rose by 124% and Instacart’s by 218% from March 2019 to March 2020. Digital streaming rose in popularity as so many of us were quarantined at home, with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Disney+ all gaining subscribers at an unprecedented rate in Q1 2020.
We believe that the pandemic has encouraged irreversible changes in shopping behaviour – a firm move towards e-commerce that is likely to continue in the post-Covid world.
The study by Deloitte backs this up, stating that COVID-19 has highlighted the risk of picking up germs while shopping, meaning that fear of another health crisis may well drive behavioral change in the longer term. What’s more, the pandemic has made it necessary for even those who may have previously preferred to buy in-store to do their shopping online, and many of those people have realised the benefits of e-commerce. Boasting convenience and low prices driven by high competition, it seems likely that e-commerce’s increasing popularity will continue long after memories of the pandemic have faded.
This is why brands that still prioritise in-store shopping and lack a comprehensive online experience must adapt or become obsolete. As Yomi Kastro, founder, and CEO of e-commerce service Inveon, points out, there is now an enormous opportunity within industries that are still more used to physical shopping, such as fast-moving consumer goods and pharmaceuticals, for brands able to set up pioneering platforms that can garner widespread use. However, across all industries, there is room for improvement when it comes to the digital experience. Smart businesses will focus efforts on ensuring that their online offering is always best-in-class, recognising that e-commerce’s strength is only set to grow.
Article sourced from: The Drum