The COVID-19 global pandemic is still ongoing but already there is no doubt it will have long-lasting effects. During this pandemic we have come to accept new realities such as social distancing, working remotely from home, and even being quarantined.
We have seen brick-and-mortar retail stores shutting down in many places around the world, together with restaurants, movie theaters and offices. Currently, physical retail shopping is limited in many places, but online shopping is available and helps to meet consumers’ needs during this time. As a result, we see changes in consumer behavior and shopping patterns.
The sudden economic halt caused by the virus is likely to lead to a recession, but not necessarily in the online sector. eCommerce sales have hiked in some sectors, and the forecasts predict they will continue to increase. Even the largest marketplaces like Amazon are struggling to keep up with surging demand.
eCommerce During COVID-19
As a result of the lockdown, stay-at-home advisories, and the need to reduce exposure to others, consumers shop more online, even for essentials. eCommerce sales are up in many countries around the world. U.S. retailers’ online year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth numbers in mid-April are up 68%.
However, e-commerce covers almost every product category, and sales have been affected differently depending on the category of products. Although shopping behavior is shifting during this time, analyzing it by category is interesting.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, we see changes in shopping categories and behaviors.
Authorities around the world urge the public to use products associated with virus containment and health, including sanitizers, masks, gloves and more. In some countries, including Germany and Israel, face masks are currently mandatory in certain situations, while in other countries they are strongly recommended. As people around the world need protective products amid lockdowns and new rules on offline retail, many choose to order these products online. eCommerce purchases of such products have surged by 817%, according to Adobe’s analysis.
Consumers in the U.S. are also stocking up medicines. Adobe’s analysis also found that purchases for cold, cough and flu over-the-counter products have increased 198%, while online purchases for pain relievers increased 152%. This is most likely the result of consumers’ health concerns during this time.
Anxious consumers in major countries around the world are also stocking up their pantries in preparation for the pandemic, restricted living and quarantine. China’s largest online retailer, JD.com, has reported sales of common household staples quadruple over the same period last year. The increase in online purchases of common staples includes non-perishable foods such as canned goods, rice, flour, and bottled water. Companies that sell toilet paper online, such as U.S. companies reel and Peach, have sold out. No. 2 reported in March 2020 that their Amazon sales had increased by 1,643%.
Generally, grocery-related e-commerce has spiked. This includes all groceries. In China, the French retailer Carrefour reported an increase of 600% in delivery of vegetables, and online grocer Fresh Daily reported a 321% sales revenue increase during the week of Chinese New Year, starting January 25, 2020.
As part of the new reality and shelter at home policies, this April has seen an increase in beauty maintenance products such as costume hair coloring (+145%), nail polish remover (+97%), and electric hair groomers (+64%), as reported by Nielsen. Other categories that have seen a significant increase are bread machines (+652%), weight training (+307%), and computer monitors (+172%), as reported by Stackline in March 2020. The same analysis also reported a decline in various categories, such as luggage and suitcase, cameras and swimwear.
COVID-19 E-commerce New Challenges
The increase in online shopping has led to new challenges related to shipping and supply. Amazon, for example, has many out of stock items and delayed deliveries due to coronavirus demand, even after the company decided to prioritize in-demand products.
Companies are looking into new ways to meet demand and keep consumers shopping online. New options, such as BOPIS (buy-online-pick-up-in-store) and apps like Instacart are now used in the U.S.A.
Out-of-stock products and strains on the supply chain provide an opportunity for counterfeiters to offer their fake items and attract consumers. Counterfeiters can also try to take advantage of businesses that have no efficient e-commerce platform and supply chains, as well as companies that chose to suspend their online stores for various reasons.
COVID-19 and Fakes
The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in high demand in many product categories. This creates an opportunity for counterfeiters who can provide goods in demand through online channels, especially in face of factories and stores shutdowns and other challenges brought by the current health crisis.
Fake goods are prevalent online, and although consumers may be aware of this fact and worry about the low quality of counterfeit products, many buy without fully vetting the sellers and their products.
Online purchases by anxious customers make them vulnerable to counterfeiters. Health and safety products are purchased faster than they are produced and restocked, providing opportunities for unscrupulous sellers. The Interpol says criminals are cashing in on COVID-19 as it sees a rise in fake medical products related to COVID-19. OECD and Europol issued a counterfeit warning amid the COVID-19 pandemic regarding global trade in counterfeit pharmaceutical products.
Wiser online protection
While we e-commerce behaviors and habits are still changing, this is an important time to ensure your brand meets your customers’ needs and expectations. Having consumers shopping online more presents opportunities, but it also means greater exposure to online brand abuse. To secure your customers’ experience and your brand’s revenue, it is essential to monitor and take down counterfeit products from marketplaces, social media and other fraudulent eCommerce channels.
Wiser Market is a brand protection agency dedicated to protecting brands online. Our technology, expertise, personal approach, and tailor-made solutions will allow you to tackle the problem of online brand abuse effectively.
As the global crisis continues to evolve, Wiser Market’s e-commerce expertise and online brand protection services help you protect your brand online. Our brand protection services result in over 90% success rate in taking down counterfeits. At Wiser Market, we protect your brand so you can grow your business.
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