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The Global Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Ecommerce Business

As countries begin to regain their economic momentum after the lockdown, players in the retail sector wonder about the long-term after-effects of the pandemic on the industry.

Will the huge shift to online shopping be sustained when there are no more health concerns and need for social distancing?

Here we discuss 5 ways the pandemic is changing the outlook of the eCommerce landscape.

Online Shopping Skyrockets

In the heat of the pandemic when several businesses including brick-and-mortar shops selling nonessential goods had to lock up, consumers switched to shopping online.

Unsurprisingly, global online revenue rose to a staggering 74% by March according to a report by AP News.

Although in July, eCommerce sales experienced a decline as some consumers started cutting back on spending, while some returned to shopping at physical locations.

Consumer’s survey has revealed that online shopping will still remain a highly preferred shopping method as long as the threat of COVID-19 remains.

A Permanent Shift in Consumer Preferences

As lockdown begins to ease worldwide, many retail industry analysts begin to question how consumer shopping behavior will be impacted post-COVID-19.

To find an answer to this question, Paysafe carried out a survey of 8,000 shoppers from seven countries (Canada, UK, US, Bulgaria, Italy, Austria, and Germany).

In the survey, the respondents were asked about their present and anticipated future shopping plans.

Apart from confirming that the frequency of their eCommerce patronage increased due to the coronavirus, the survey participants also stated that COVID had changed their shopping preferences.

About 38% of shoppers said they plan to switch to buying on the web even after social distancing measures are relaxed.

Why The Change In Consumer Shopping Habit Post COVID-19?

For some consumers, health concerns will be a significant factor even after the pandemic.

In the Paysafe survey, 40% of respondents that chose to permanently switch to online shopping cited long-term fears about the safety of brick-and-mortar stores.

However, the primary reason most consumers give for sticking to online shopping after the pandemic is not about safety at all.

About 65% of those who plan on making the switch simply find online shopping more convenient, while 42% find the eCommerce shopping process more enjoyable.

In several countries during the COVID era, it is a proven fact that consumers rank convenience and value in shopping above health concerns.

A Mckinsey research found that 60% of people in the US and China opted for eCommerce due to the ease of shopping. Similarly, Paysafe recorded 74% in Canada, 73% in Italy, 70% in Bulgaria, and 50% in Austria.

Mobile Apps and Omnichannel Experienced a Surge in Demand

Even as the pandemic winds down, many consumers are extremely wary of going to stores. Retail businesses that quickly caught on to offering curbside pickup put themselves at a great advantage.

In the Digital Commerce 2020 ranking of 1000 online retailers, only 7.7% of store-based retailers in their Top 1000 offered curbside pickup by the end of 2019.

However, some retailers like Best Buy Co. Inc.,, and The Michael Companies quickly added the service at the peak of the pandemic.

Big retailers such as Target and Walmart, who already offer curbside pickup, encouraged customers to order for the service via their mobile apps.

Since a shopper’s payment information is stored on the app, and there’s no need to enter their data each time they place an order. In no time, customers flocked to download these apps.

App Annie, a mobile data and analytics company, published its findings, which showed the download statistics of the Walmart Grocery app. According to them, it surpassed Amazon’s app by a 460% margin.

Online Retailers to Diversify Their Supply Chain

The first port of call for the novel coronavirus was China, the epicenter of manufacturing worldwide. Factories in the country were shut down for several weeks, which saw many companies in other parts of the world grapple with acute supply shortages.

The worst-hit companies were companies whose business model revolved around buying cheap from China and reselling online or in retail stores.

For some retailers in America like Wayfair – who had diversified their supply chain earlier due to high US tariffs on made-in-china goods - the initial impact of the supply disruption was less severe.

Now, as the worst of the coronavirus seems to have passed, companies are making it a priority to seek out a wider supply chain that is not focused on one geographical region.

Key Takeaway For Digital Marketers

The coronavirus lockdown and social distancing measures have caused a massive digital transformation across nearly every sector. Stats have shown that consumer behaviour that shifted towards online shopping will very much remain like that for a long time to come.

In addition, consumers and businesses that survived the crisis now have very different attitudes, priorities, and values – a change that would impact how people choose to spend their time, money, and other resources.

While the shift towards eCommerce is good news for digital entrepreneurs, the change in priorities also means more research for businesses within the digital sphere.

Digital marketers, especially, need to know exactly the ways consumer behaviours are changing.

With that, they could come up with updated buyer personas and strategies to help their clients better adjust to the post-pandemic world.

In short, there has never been a better time to start digital advertising and marketing agencies are now presented with colossal opportunities to expand their client base.

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