The business community fears the coronavirus will have a negative impact on our economy to the point where experts are contemplating the possibility of a recession.
According to Marketing Land, there will be pressure felt on eCommerce too. “Consumers will shift more and more purchases online as they avoid public places, with Amazon, delivery services and the online divisions of major retailers (e.g., Target, Walmart) as the biggest beneficiaries. Indeed, foot traffic in shopping malls is down. However, supply chain issues, product shortages and potentially declining consumer demand could also blunt e-commerce growth – if the economy falters or goes into recession.”
Source: March survey of 304 U.S. retailers conducted by Digital Commerce 360.
2 Major eCommerce Challenges Businesses Face and How to Prepare for It
Important industries outside health care are being impacted by COVID-19 which in turn may put many businesses at risk. We will be addressing two major challenges that are going to be faced by many eCommerce businesses including steps to take during this disruption.
Here are some examples of industries that suffer the weight of the coronavirus.
- Education: Schools are closed for a couple of weeks. University classes are being canceled and access to daycare services is limited for parents with children.
- Entertainment: Concerts, shows, and local entertainment events are postponed.
- Sports: The NBA, NHL, MLBA, and many local sports events are canceled for the time being until further notice.
- Travel: Restrictions are being imposed on flights from specific countries. People are canceling planned vacations. Many business trips are being canceled as companies restrict employee travel.
- Financial: Stock prices are dropping across many industries. Interest rates are down.
- Retail: Consumers are shopping for last-minute necessities at brick and mortar stores and it’s having an impact on supplies within specific categories of products (e.g.: toilet paper).
CHALLENGE #1: eCommerce & the Influx in Online Shopping
Consumers being home more than normal could drive e-commerce sales in more specific categories like consumer product goods, grocery and staple items. Amazon Prime may have a significant increase in membership as many products fall into these categories.
Grocery pick-up and delivery will have a short term boost and once the consumer has purchased groceries online, they will be more likely to make future purchases in the same manner. According to Lipsman, categories that may garner more sales in the short-term are books and streaming video content, while declines may be seen in entertainment and restaurants.
Certain product categories may be impacted negatively in the short term as consumers may not be in the mood of spending money on things they don’t need since there are so much uncertainty and worry flowing around them.
How Ecommerce Businesses Should Handle This Challenge
- Pay attention to analytics. Monitor the shopping behavior of new website visitors.
- Pay attention to website performance. Faster load times & website availability are critical especially on mobile devices.
- Pay attention to advertising budgets. People are spending a lot of time online. Find new ways of capturing their attention on social media and video networks.
- Pay attention to conversion rates. People may be shopping around more than ever and this may impact things such as time to purchase.
- Pay attention to search campaign ads. Shoppers are looking for alternatives when shopping for specific products. A great opportunity since supply is limited to certain product categories.
CHALLENGE #2: eCommerce Supply Chain & Logistics
Although at first, the virus was beneficial for online sales due to the consumer preference for shopping off the Internet, it was only a matter of time before e-commerce businesses began to feel the pinch. Transport routes have been affected as a result of the quarantines, while staff employed at warehouses have been unable to work and therefore fulfill orders. Such setbacks have had a ripple effect across the e-commerce spectrum.
According to Emarketer, eCommerce will likely grow as consumers avoid physical stores during these times but this could create logistical challenges. “A decline in brick and mortar retail which comprises over 85% of US retail sales, could shift day-to-day shopping to digital channels like Amazon or other e-tailers, and boost sales.”
This surge in demand will have an impact on logistics as well as the supply chain in the short-term. For example, if your supply chain relies heavily on products coming in from China, you may already have felt the impact since many companies are being forced to halt the production of finished goods. This supply scarcity may result in product availability challenges for retailers across many industries both online and brick and mortar.
How Ecommerce Businesses Should Handle This Challenge
- Monitor product categories that are experiencing a shift in demand before you run out of stock.
- Focus on keeping products in stock. Allows users to be notified by email if items come back in stock.
- Set shipping expectations by clearly communicating delivery times on product pages and checkout.
- Step up customer service efforts. Brief your team on how to handle customer interactions and provide additional channels of communication such as live chat.
- Work closely with shipping partners to ensure you’re ready for any disruptions that may arise and the impact it may have on order deliveries.
How Le Site Can Help You
Our team of eCommerce experts and partners can help you navigate these tough times by providing you digital commerce solutions focused around short-term strategies, digital marketing optimization and improving the online shopping experience.
Contact us by email at [email protected] or call us at 1-844-353-7483.