COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) effects have thrown the world in limbo. Various industries like medicine, education, technology, business travel, e-commerce, and economy across the globe are feeling the impact of the outbreak. The virus that was first reported in China a few weeks ago is quickly gaining traction in other countries throwing masses into frenzy. Since research on its management is ongoing, people are in a state of uncertainty, hence affecting consumer behavior.
Businesses all over are hugely affected, with giant economies almost brought to a standstill. Reports indicate that the world’s economy could hit the lowest stagnation since 2009 this year if the outbreak continues. However, the e-commerce world is getting both ends of the stick. There are positive and negative impacts the outbreak has on e-commerce.
Positive Developments of COVID-19 on eCommerce
Experts call for people to avoid crowded places in a bid to help curb the menace. Governments are also discouraging nationals against hanging out in public places. More are quarantined either through confirmed mild, or symptomatic cases. As a result, online sales of utilities and essential household commodities are on a high.
Such changes influence shopping behaviors based on events or circumstances witnessed now may turn into a long-term comportment amongst most shoppers. Since some may feel and love the convenience of online shopping, they are less likely to go back to the old ways. This way, the COVID-19 may increase online shoppers and grow e-commerce on utilities and household goods.
Most of the items on platforms like Amazon fall under consumer product goods, and staple items. Amazon Prime is therefore bound to register an increase in membership from the increased demand of these items online. The stocking up of the items also means higher sales with more people at home to consume or use things.
In South Korea, mobile apps that monitor coronavirus are increasingly becoming popular. Bae Won-Seok, a developer of Corona 100m, reveals that installs of the app are on the increase to about 20,000 per hour. Users of the app get information on the gender, age, and nationality of coronavirus patients. You also get to know the date a victim is confirmed positive of the virus and the places they visited. Such apps are attracting more users’ online boosting e-commerce. Streamed video content and books are also likely to garner more sales in the short term.
Pharmacies across the world sold out items like hand sanitizers and masks as people bought to take precautions. The shortage prompts increase online search from shoppers looking for the products. Some of these shoppers have never purchased such products online. The enhanced online traffic benefits e-commerce as chances of shoppers bumping into your products online are high.
Negative Impacts of COVID-19 on eCommerce
There is a general sense of loss cutting across most industries, if not all, due to the dreadful coronavirus. Most e-commerce retailers globally rely on China for the production of its merchandise. Due to supply chain interruptions, there are no products to supply to the market once the stock depletes. Wayfair, a furniture e-commerce retailer, has registered losses of about 22 percent drop in shares this year. Dropping of share value in your business may send off investors and affect sales as well.
Companies, countries, and health organizations are advising employees against non-essential travels to reduce the risk of spreading the menace. These restrictions, though helpful, have brought a sharp decline in the travel industry.
Ecommerce related businesses like hotel booking, flight tickets, and accommodation like Airbnb or booking.com suffer low activities and sales. You may, therefore, experience low sales if your niche falls in this category.
Sailing through these miry business times calls for tact and making hard decisions. Establishments have sent employees home for unpaid leave. Some people have lost jobs as businesses close down. With less income, consumers restrict their expenditure. The less spending power translates to reduced online purchases.
Sports industry is a force throughout the world. Most games and tournaments have been canceled, and in some cases, sponsors withdrawing their support. As a result, many online activities associated with such events, like tickets for the games, travel, among others, are negatively affected. Sports enthusiasts may turn to online gaming to feel the entertainment void and turn into a habit.
According to CBNC, the Food and Drug Administration has experienced its first medicine shortage due to coronavirus. This is as a result of the manufacturing plants affected. Ecommerce enables online stores to capitalize on the scarcity and increase prices. Such moves affect you as you may lose clients due to high costs.
COVID 19 has claimed many lives all over. Reports indicate approximately 4,613 people have died from the virus as of 12th March 2020, and 125, 058 confirmed cases. When a family member dies, it is not business as usual. These high statistics of death and ailing people affect relatives and close friends to a large extend. For some time, life almost stops as they come to terms with the loss or contend with a life-threatening condition. Shopping online is the last thing on the mind of the affected people unless they are purchasing what they need.
Generally, people are apprehensive and less likely to spend on anything they do not need. The wait and see approach reduces money circulation in businesses all over, whether online or in physical stores. This anxiety may affect your eCommerce business, depending on what you are selling.
Platforms like Amazon are experiencing countervailing forces with such disruptive happenings. Luxury brands are declining in sales, while utilitarian products like grocery, health, and beauty, and consumer product goods are in high demand. Coronavirus tragedy may hasten the digital side or retail business at a higher rate than expected. Shoppers initially reluctant to try online shopping now have to purchase things remotely. As technology becomes more intuitive, and consumers enjoy the convenience of e-commerce, they are likely to stay hooked.
It is impossible to give a full analysis of the impact of COVID 19, as it is still prevalent. However, essential household products make the most significant percentage of online sales on stores like Amazon, while luxury items seem to be most affected. This occurrence may open up businesses to transfer more activities online. The shift to the digital world will call for more resources and technology to sustain the activities. Enhanced online development is an advantage to e-commerce business.
In 2020, e-commerce may represent about 12 percent of total retail sales. The change in customer behavior due to COVID 19 in this first quarter can have a more profound impact on e-commerce. To your online business, the COVID 19 could be a blessing in disguise. All in all, this scenario gives you more reasons to leverage technology and make your business as digital as possible.