The digital switch, is COVID-19 shaping the future of how we shop?

It’s no secret many of the top brands to survive COVID are those that are most likely to adapt to change. In a race to become digital-first, thousands of companies have switched to e-commerce platforms, from pet food to sweet treats. A spike in online food delivery companies and supermarkets has been noted, but is it just those with food?

While many may say, we are already a nation of avid online shoppers, those businesses whose were deemed “non-essential” had to close their physical doors. The focus on the world of digital, seeing a massive surge in new websites popping up, but how successful will they be?  While for the foreseeable future things will remain the case, Will COVID-19 shape our shopping habits forever?

Non-essential items

Sellers of non-essential goods have seen their sales drop by 40 per cent to 60 per cent on Amazon according to Business Insider. And according to a recent survey by Digital Commerce 360 note  42 per cent of retailer’s state concerns regarding consumer confidence, however, they are not in agreement about how great of an impact there will be. Almost  60 per cent of participants believe there will be some impact, 22 per cent believe the effect will be significant, and 20 per cent predict a limited outcome.

“As the coronavirus quarantine persists, there are several factors that could alter how much consumers continue to shop online and the level to which brands want to shell out for eCommerce advertising,” stated a report in Digital Marketing Industry News.

“Consumers concerned about job security and the market downturn may rein in their spending and begin to define their needs versus wants, focusing on purchasing their needs primarily as self-isolation persists. And, brands worried about possible supply chain issues may limit advertising if they can’t guarantee delivery of their products.”

A surge in pharmaceuticals

WHO global experts and governments across the world are encouraging people to keep their hands clean and avoid touching their faces. And the people are listening. E-commerce sales of the within the category of virus protection, such as gloves, hand sanitizers, disposable masks and antibacterial sprays have surged by 817%, according to a recent Adobe analysis.

Not just a boost in virus protection goods as been identified, many individuals are also stocking up on medicinal items online.

After many travel restrictions were imposed, and in places, where self-quarantine is advised, a rise in sales of over the counter meds have also been noted. a rise in sales of over the counter meds have also been noted. Adobe’s analysis of eCommerce transactions identified that purchases for cold, cough and flu products had increased 198%, while online purchases for pain relievers rose 152%.

Sanitary items

With many giant retailers such as Tesco limiting the amount of toilet paper customers can buy, online retail giants such as Amazon have seen a spike in people bulk buying. Adobe’s analytics recent review identified a surge of 186% in such purchases.

Home and electricals

Last week Dixons Carphone, which also owns retailer Curry’s, said e-commerce sales had risen 72% over the previous three-week period as a result of heightened sales of PC’S and printers, as well as games consoles, televisions, and household appliances such as freezers. John Lewis also reported high demand for desks, chairs and additional home office furniture as entire families endeavoured to work side by side at home.

Get creative

It should perhaps come as no surprise that jigsaw puzzles are having another heyday, as we look for ways to spend our time. Retailers John Lewis stated demand was higher than at Christmas, which is traditionally the annual sales peak. Over half of the retailer’s puzzles – including all the 1,000-piece ones – have been sold.

In another indication that people are trying to be creative behind closed doors, John Lewis said demand for craft sets, wool and sewing machines had risen. Popular high street stationer and crafts shop, The Works has also reported a run on home educational supplies, “mindfulness material” and adult colouring books.

Seeking fitness

With outdoor group activities banned and gyms closed, another area to excel in the current climate is fitness goods. Not content with just YouTube, more and more consumers are implementing home gyms and seeking equipment online.

Fitness Superstore, the UK’s biggest retailer for specialist equipment, said the sheer volume of orders in recent weeks had “driven all areas of our business to maximum capacity”. The company has imposed a £200 minimum spend to slowdown the speed of new orders its Northampton distribution centre is receiving. “We have seen a level of demand that dwarfs even our peak trading times of Christmas and January,” the company states on its website.

Going green

Dobbies, the UK’s largest chain of garden centres, also reported a sharp spike in sales, with some shoppers  willing to pick-up the hobby from scratch, purchasing garden care tools including rakes, hoes, hand tools, shovels and secateurs.

What does the future hold?

COVID-19 is an immense shock to the world economy as well as the millions of people it has impacted. The priority right now for many companies is the need to ensure that the health and safety of its workers, partners and suppliers come first. Over the long run, COVID-19 has undoubtably shaped the way businesses will compete over the next decade. Companies that choose to take advantage of these intrinsic changes will advance, and the ones that don’t will fall behind.

As we have seen, some of these changes are direct, short-term responses to the crises and will revert to normal levels once COVID-19 is contained. However, some of these changes will persist, resulting in a long-term online movement that will change businesses for decades to come. One thing is for sure- during the interim online shopping will undoubtedly increase until we can enter our high streets once again.

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