Coronavirus has created an impact on worldwide businesses that is hard to digest and cope with, affecting the economy at large. With lockdown being made mandatory by almost every nation of the world, most of the businesses have reduced or shut down their physical operations, which, in turn, has led to a disrupted supply chain.
Also, people are becoming reluctant to shop outside during the relaxation hours owing to the fear of contracting the virus. This is where the eCommerce platform has come to the rescue of residents. Let us throw some light on the new challenges faced by eCommerce businesses and how they can make the best of this opportunity!
- As of mid-April, the year-over-year (YoY) revenue growth of the U.S.A. online retailers has increased by 68%, surpassing the initial January peak of 49%.
- According to QuantumMetric, during the February month, a jump of 8% was witnessed in the conversion rates due to the buying urgency demonstrated by the shoppers, identical to the Cyber Monday.
- Almost 95% of the U.S. population has got affected by the stay-at-home orders that account for 306 million Americans. COVID-19 has paved the way for long-term changes in the retail industry, and the sudden online demand spike has created challenges for retailers that weren’t anticipated at all in January.
Impact of COVID-19 on eCommerce Businesses
1. Alteration in Market Dynamics
The eCommerce buying behavior of consumers has changed significantly during the COVID- 19 outbreak. Almost 42% of retailers stated that they are concerned regarding consumer confidence. Nations that have more COVID-19 cases are witnessing more online orders.
eCommerce businesses have reported a drop in orders related to luxuries, cosmetics, and fashion but a hike in the orders for important items like groceries, healthcare products, and toiletries. Also, the eCommerce food-delivery businesses like Postmates and DoorDash have reported increased online orders owing to restricted/closure of restaurant dining.
2. Stock Shortage
Since people are avoiding going outside and shopping in crowded places, they are placing orders for the same online. Due to an excessive number of people buying groceries and other essential things online, retailers are going out of stock.
This is surely going to become a top challenge for the eCommerce retailers, not just for the essential commodities but for the entire product categories. This is the reason that almost 44% of retailers are expecting production delays, 40% expecting inventory shortages, and 42% expecting challenges in the form of declining consumer confidence.
3. Shifting of Product Categories
Due to coronavirus, people have changed their preferences greatly when it comes to choosing the categories of products they want to shop during this pandemic. As per the market research company, “Nielsen” the pandemic has led to the following consumer behavior changes and their impact on the market.
- Proactive buying of health-based products (buying preventative wellness and health products).
- Instant health management (buying protective gear such as hand sanitizers and masks). Preparing pantry (stockpiling household and groceries’ essentials).
- Preparing for Quarantine (experiencing store shortages, making fewer visits to the stores).
- Controlled living (inadequate online fulfillment, making fewer shopping trips).
- A new normal (daily routine returning, everlasting changed supply chain).
4. Delayed Deliveries
This is so obvious. When people will place orders more than expected, it will lead to delays in deliveries. This is because new and more products are to be manufactured and shipped, but a lack of labor is causing all the delays. For instance, there is hardly any way to receive orders placed on Lazada, AliExpress, or any eCommerce Chinese retailer.
COVID-19 has hampered the national and international shipping operations drastically, affecting the worldwide eCommerce sellers.
5. Remote Working and Leaves can be Costly
There is no denying that eCommerce businesses have experienced immense growth in the corona pandemic but if enforced remote working comes into play, eCommerce stores that have minimal staff working for them will face a lot of problems.
The nature of coronavirus is such that even the minutest of negligence can prove to be fatal for everyone at the workplace, including friends and family at home. Since nobody wants that to happen, employees having mild sickness symptoms will be sent home with paid leaves that can prove to be very costly for the eCommerce stores, along with dealing with the challenge of recovering their medical bills from the insurance company.
Tips for eCommerce Businesses to Flourish during the COVID-19 Pandemic
1. Maintain Healthy Relationships with Suppliers
It is imperative for eCommerce retailers to maintain healthy relationships with their suppliers during such hard times when the customer demands are becoming huge with the passing of every day. Even one instance of delay can make your customers drift away to other options.
So, make sure you collaborate well with your suppliers for having a continuous product supply and even support them in every way to ensure uninterrupted business operations.
2. Order in Bulk
Just as we discussed above that retailers are witnessing unexpected customer demands; it makes it a must for them to order products in bulk so that they do not lose out on even a single customer. This strategy should be adopted until the time things start getting back to normal.
Also, it is vital to establish proper storage places for accommodating the bulk orders to ensure the quality and safety of products.
3. Slow Down the Sales Run Rate
If you happen to be selling on Amazon, you probably know that shipment delays and inventory shortage will impact your performance to fulfill orders negatively, leading to a ranking and margin drop. An effective way to deal with such a situation is to anticipate the spreading of inventory levels across the next few months and align the velocity of your current sales with it.
In other words, you must evaluate the sales run rate that can work with adequate stock in place and bring maximum benefit to you. Once you figure out the same, you can adjust the costs and promote the same to make the sales to slow down.
4. Ensure Strict Quality Control
Quality concern is of utmost importance during the COVID-19 outbreak, and stringent quality control measures should be adopted to provide customers with assured product quality. A lot of suppliers are compromising with the quality of products owing to disrupted supply chains, a lack of labor, and huge product demand.
However, you need to ensure that whatever products you are delivering to your customers are qualitative in nature.
5. Train the Customer Support Team
The Corona pandemic is not only making things tough for the eCommerce retailers but their customers as well. They, too, have a lot of speculations in mind while placing orders during such a crisis. Focus on preparing your team to answer queries related to contactless delivery options, product packaging safety, shipment delays, and more.
Amongst these, ensuring customers of safety measures hold immense importance since none of the customers can compromise on the same. So, it is essential that eCommerce owners train their support staff to address their concerns proficiently and provide immediate solutions to them.
To summarize, the COVID-19 impact on the eCommerce industry is huge and comes in the form of challenges as well as opportunities. eCommerce retailers need to streamline their business operations by assessing the growing customer demand, maintaining relationships with suppliers, ordering in bulk, and taking care of product quality and customer concerns in an efficient manner.
This is surely a huge challenge for retailers but this is not the end of the road as they have to manage a plethora of eCommerce accounting tasks simultaneously. However, they do not have sufficient time for the same, especially during the present scenario. So, what can be the best solution to it?
Well, the answer lies in joining hands with a top outsourcing provider of eCommerce data management and accounting services. Meet Cogneesol, a 12-year old renowned outsourcing firm, providing quality accounting and data management services to businesses and retailers worldwide. Contact us to start your free trial!
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