Physical stores are closing their doors across the world due to the global crisis caused by COVID-19. Restaurants, bars, and clubs are suffering due to this global pandemic as people shy away from crowded public spaces. Malls are closing or forced to put in place social distancing procedures to help reduce the number of customers in the store at any one time. The effects on the economy, jobs, and oil prices have been devastating.
A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the final week of March 2020; the highest previous record being 695,000 in 1982. This increased to over 6.6 million one week later.
47 million workers are being laid off in the world’s largest economy. A devasting number that will have a ripple effect on other regions as US consumers decrease spending.
Online Retailers to the Rescue
In all this carnage one would think that the e-Commerce industry’s hour has arrived. And in most cases that is true. There has been a large spike in sales for what is seen as essential items, as worried consumers prepare for the worst. People have been infamously stockpiling toilet paper since the early days of the outbreak. Staples such a bread, eggs, milk and toiletries have helped boost essentials retailers’ sales by as much as 120% compared to the same period in 2019. Amazon & Wallmart has seen impressive sales with the supply chain buckling at times.
Sellars of home fitness equipment such as weights, home exercise bikes, yoga mats saw record sales as gyms shut down due to safety concerns.
The effects of forced social distancing have meant that people are looking at more ways to stay fit and fight boredom at home.
Products in demand for the home
Many parents are coming to terms with the new reality of having kids at home fulltime. The challenges of working from home and looking after one’s children have driven many parents up the wall. The sales of indoor and outdoor goods have seen an impressive spike in numbers with table tennis & pool tables being some of the popular items. Xboxes and Playstations have also been flying off the shelves.
Fears of a recession, or even the possibility of depression, are sparking an increase in sales for home and garden items. Especially the sale of seedlings and seeds such as tomatoes, spinach, and carrots has been popular with consumers. Two of the world’s largest producers of seeds has stopped taking new orders as demand spiked.
There has been a marked increase in sales of electric goods as shoppers rushed to buy laptops, printers, and desks to help improve their home office.
Interest and sales of remote working tools are up 150% YoY. Meeting tools such as Zoom burst onto the scene, eclipsing well-known industry favorites such as Skype and Microsoft Teams
The Biggest e-Commerce Losers
The fashion industry has taken a big knock in sales with a 51% decline compared to the same period last year. Luxury goods have experienced a similar slump in sales and many brands are canceling events and launches.
Online search volume for flights, hotels and accommodation bookings has been hardest hit. With the lockdown affecting over half the planet, the sector saw a decrease of 37% YOY. Omnichannel retailers(with both physical and online stores), has also seen a drop in sales with many forced to close.
The current environment will impact the world of offline and online sales for years to come. Many industries have been devasted that looked invisible a few months ago. For others more suited for social distancing, lockdowns and working from, it has become a boom time.
An Opportunity in the Disruption
There will be more economic shocks to come in the months ahead yet there will also be opportunities in the chaos. From the Choas comes new birth
Just take a look at the industries born out of the last economic crisis of 2008:
It makes one wonder what new innovative services or products will become “essential” in the years to come.
The Robot industry will potentially be one of the biggest winners. There has been an increase in demand for Service Robots in particular as companies look for contactless solutions. Delivery drones, autonomous guide robots, and cars even food preparation robots that will allow the food industry to operate 24/7. Flippy the Fast Food Restaurant Robot is one good example.
The e-Commerce world will have to adapt and get stronger but it will almost certainly play a significant part for the foreseeable future
What do you think will be the next big service or product in the e-Commerce space? Who will be the companies that take the initiative in the next decade? Tell us in the comments section below.