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How Is COVID-19 Outbreak Affecting Ecommerce?

COVID- 19 global pandemic has disrupted every system, from healthcare to business. Different brands worldwide are experiencing the effects of the disease—small and large firms alike; due to the continually changing customer behavior. Multiple countries have instituted movement restrictions and other safety measures to curb the spread of the virus. As a result, a majority of consumers are now avoiding congested areas while others still are remaining indoors for a greater part of the day.

At first, the majorly hit companies were brick-and-mortar, but the e-businesses are now victims too. Nevertheless, consumer needs must be met, and this requires new strategies. Google, in her statement, advised businesses to keep their website information updated. Customers need to be continually informed on any changes in business operations such as time of opening and closure. Some of the suggestions given include updating your Google My Business listing, informing the public on any precautions you are taking to ensure the safety of your clients and employees, and providing information related to the pandemic on your website.

What is the impact on businesses?

Ecommerce operation shutdown

Due to increasing COVID-19 confirmed cases, cessation of various non-essential service operations has been declared by the different governments. The e-businesses dealing in non-essential products and services like fashion have thus closed down temporarily.

Increased online shopping

Despite the shutdowns, online retailers are experiencing a surge in the number of purchases in at least 40%, Beneficiaries of these changes are electronic dealers, grocers, and big stores. Companies have, therefore, had to recruit more personnel to assist in the management of orders, deliveries, and other logistics. Some like Walmart in the U.S have raised the employees' wages as compensation for the increased demand placed on the workers.

The most viable reason for such a spike is the attempt of consumers to avoid crowded places by all means. This is good news for the retailers, but there come challenges to deal with them—Delay in deliveries and out-of-stock problems. You must, therefore, lay the necessary strategies to minimize the extent of the damage. On platforms such as Amazon, once your product stays out-of-stock for 30 days, the sales history is deleted. This is a massive blow to your business, as you will have to begin building trust and credibility from scratch again. Because of the fear of such a negative impact, most vendors hiked the price of various commodities, especially the ones required to protect against COVID-19 spread such as hand sanitizers and face masks.

During such a crisis, there is a consumer rush, and there are vendors who take advantage to make huge profits. In a bid to cushion the customers against such and maintain ethical codes, Amazon has removed products whose prices have been overinflated and those that do not meet the market standards. Those selling hygiene-related products are registering significant sales growth compared to such a time last year.

On the flip side, other retailers are essentially experiencing hard times and need urgent intervention by the government.

Change in the companies’ mode of operations to eCommerce

Despite technological advancements, some industries have been relying on in-person sales heavily. But with the COVID-19 associated interactions, such enterprises have seen an immense drop in sales worldwide. A good example is the automobile industry. As a result, dealers are employing new strategies to reach out to customers, yet promoting their safety. One of the ways is turning to eCommerce, where the sellers are adding new services to their websites. Even though this is meant to mitigate the effects of the current crisis on business, the likelihood of adopting these strategies post the pandemic is high.

Creation of virtual events for eCommerce agents

With constant changes and uncertainties that continue to grip the market, experts in marketing have organized virtual events to help businesses navigate through the crisis. The sessions mainly serve to tackle various factors influencing eCommerce and how to bloom after the disaster.

Besides the discussions, most companies that had planned for major events within the year have had to either cancel, postpone, or go virtual. Cancellations of programs have financial implications for the companies that may not be amended within the year. As much as virtual events seem to be a remedy, it does not equate in-person interactions. The conversion rates and customer engagement are lower.

Disruption of demand-supply chain and delivery services.

Most e-businesses are still operational, and the websites fully optimized. However, the demand is rising faster while the supply is going down. Online stores rely on factories for sourcing products, yet some of these industries have been closed in areas with stringent measures such as a total lockdown. With the out-of-stock issues, home-delivery of the specific products is delayed. In this time of crisis, quick delivery is a significant factor in building trust and credibility among customers, but it may be thwarted because of the condition. Clear communication of these expected changes should be made to the clients.

What should a vendor do?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a colossal blow to almost all businesses, but eCommerce brands must find ways to remain at the peak. Targeting the audience that now sits at home nearly all days of the week, the following would be necessary to consider.

  • Advertising on TV and other video platforms. Most people are now watching television for live updates on Coronavirus. Investing in TV ads has a higher chance of reaching more prospective buyers than other marketing platforms.
  • Clear communication to customers on any expected service disruption such as time of closing and opening, out-of-stock problems or delivery delays. This will go a long for customers' trust post the pandemic.
  • Put in place strategies to ensure the safety of your clients and employees and offer accurate information related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Conclusion

The impact of COVID-19 on the global economy is evident. However, it may not be as severe as that of SARS in 2002. Thanks to eCommerce. It doesn't mean the e-businesses have not been negatively impacted at all. They have. The pandemic has led to a considerable rise in the number of sales made by online retailers and also a disruption in the demand-supply chain together with service delivery.

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