How to Keep Your Customers: E-commerce During COVID-19
During the reality of Covid-19, more countries across the globe have practiced social distancing/home isolation measures. Consumers have been adapting their ways of life to the new reality, which means a lot more time spent at home.
Restaurants, bars, movie theatres, fitness centers are being forced to close their doors to their customers, while many employees are meeting new challenges of working remotely full time. These new regulations are changing the economy, consumer buying behavior, and day-to-day lives. E-commerce stores are going to be a critical part of this new economy.
In this article, we’ll explore facts and numbers around how online shopping behavior is changing, what products are trending, and what niches are both profitable and help customers adapt to a COVID way of life.
Since the outbreak of the new coronavirus, toilet paper, hand soap, painkillers and long-life food like pasta and tins have been sold out in many supermarkets. Psychologists explain the phenomenon of panic buying and why customers are flooding the supermarkets to buy toilet paper and other particular items for two key reasons.
One of the reasons is hurt behavior. We tend to copy things we see many people around us. The second reason is fear. Our evolutionary instinct to protect those around us and ourselves. So, when we are faced with danger like a pandemic we tend to do things that we believe protect us and help survive. And what we choose to do doesn’t always have to be rational. Panic buying is always described as an exaggerated response to fear. It makes us feel we are in control of our circumstances. Now, it’s mainly understandable why we fill our pantries with food items and disinfectant.
The question of toilet paper remains baffling. It’s an item that neither kills germs nor saves lives. Since COVID-19 is the viral disease, products that have to do cleanliness are currently flying off the shelves. But there’s another reason why people are stocking up on toilet paper. It offers psychological comfort. The current toilet paper rush caught everyone by surprise. Whatever people decide to use it for, toilet paper is a huge business. It’s estimated that this year people around the world will buy 75 billion euros worth of the product. And because the outbreak of the coronavirus has sent many into panic mode, demand is high rocketing.
Experts say the crisis is likely to have a lasting impact on many aspects of our lives, not just on how we shop. For many, the rise of digitalization in all aspects of life seems inevitable. We’ll get used to shopping online, banking online, communicating online, working from home online. All these habits are a kind of digital transformation of society and particularly in retail is just going to accelerate.
Is It Safe to Shop Online?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, humans are turning to online shopping. Some of them are wondering if there is any risk of the Coronavirus traveling on the surface of the packages.
It is believed that coronavirus is spread primarily through respiratory droplets and touching contaminated surfaces. However according to the CDC: “Transmission of the new coronavirus to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented. Transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through fomites. Current evidence suggests that coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials”.
The CDC adds that cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is the best practice measure for the prevention of coronavirus and other viral illnesses.
So, should you be cleaning and disinfecting your groceries and Internet packages? There is a lot of debate and discussion about this particular topic.
The NY Times is reporting that some delivery workers with UPS and FEDEX are continuing to work while sick out of fears of losing their jobs. “They have coughs, sore throats, aches, and fevers-symptoms consistent with the coronavirus. Yet they are still reporting for their shifts in crowded shipping facilities and warehouse and truck depots, fearful of what will happen if they don’t”.
On the site of The World Health Organization, we can read the following: “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”
To be extra-cautious, since the virus stability is good on cardboard (for up to 24 hours) if you get Internet packaging, quickly dispose of the outer packaging and wash your hands immediately and try to avoid touching your face. Clean the wrapping and the item itself you ordered with disinfectant wipes.
Now with that being said, even though there remains a risk of contracting coronavirus through packages, those risks are extremely low.
How the Covid-19 Virus Is Affecting Generations?
With more people staying home to halt the spread of the pandemic, it makes sense that these new circumstances modify shopping behavior. Although only time will tell if these transformations will be temporary or permanent, we can notice how generations shop during Covid-19.
#1. Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
Baby Boomers don’t want to cut their spending as compared with other generations. It’s no surprise considering Baby Boomers have never been advocates of a cost-effective lifestyle, and according to a 2018 Visa report, they drive more than half of U.S. spending.
While millennials are holing up in their houses with Netflix and their iPhones, many baby boomers are passing the time by playing backgammon, reading books, or cooking. A major part of their spending is on board games, books, and baking items.
#2. Boomers (1965-1979)
Despite the fact that boomers are at risk – the highest risk – of infection, they are the least concerned about the COVID-19 virus. Accordingly, their buying behavior didn’t change particularly. Based on the survey carried out at the start of the outbreak, only 43 percent were concerned as opposed to 53 percent of millennials. Only 20 percent of boomers said they have changed their shopping behavior in response to the pandemic.
However, boomers are scared of the possible recession, more so than baby boomers. That explains why they are purchasing essential commodities and toilet paper in unlimited quantities. Generation X says they’re the only generation well-equipped to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, as they’ve got over several world crises and need to set a good example for both their children and high-risk parents.
#3. Millennials (1980-1994)
During these challenging times, millennials report the greatest impact on their purchase decisions (53 percent) – the highest among the generational demographic – in relation to 34 percent of baby boomers, 42 percent of Gen X, and 49 percent of Gen Z. Moreover, the behavior of millennials is transforming more dramatically than any other generation — they are tightening their budgets, are hoarding foodstuffs in anticipation of future shortages, and practicing social distancing.”
As we mentioned above, many millennials are staying at home with digital streaming services. At the beginning of the pandemic, they were trying to search for cheap flights, but many gave up the idea of traveling as the coronavirus developed. To deal with their stress, millennials are focusing on their body, meditating, and doing yoga. Despite reports of millennials out partying and ignoring social distancing rules, it’s largely Gen Z who is doing that.
#4. Generation Z (1995-2012)
Born post 1995, Generation Z is the next important generation of consumers and it’s interesting how the coronavirus is affecting Gen Z’s financial behavior. According to the stat, 51 percent of Generation Z reduce their budget in preparation for the greater pandemic spread and prefer to shop online (37 percent).
For the younger generation, the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t play an important role, so they spent their time on beaches during March for spring break. Like millennials, Gen Z is also turning to Netflix and iPhones.
Men’s and Women’s Reactions To the Covid-19
In the previous sub-topic, we have considered the results of a survey on the impact of a pandemic on the shopping behavior of different generations. What have we found out? Overall all generations are concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, but Millennials are changing their money habits more than any other generations.
The study also highlights interesting distinctions between women’s and men’s shopping behavior during the crisis. For instance, men demonstrate a greater impact on where, how, and what they buy, whereas women have reported that they are more worried about the COVID-19 pandemic in comparison with men.
Men are also reducing in-person shopping trips — 36 percent reported they’re shopping less frequently in stores (but they’re shopping more frequently online instead) compared to 28 percent of women.
It’s worth noting that about one third of surveyed men and women said the pandemic has affected their shopping behavior. It caused 34 percent of women and 35 percent of men to report they were cutting back on spending in preparation for a possible recession.
Trending Product Categories During Covid-19 Home Isolation
Let’s take a brief look at what products are on the wave of success. Overall, a reduction in sales is observed, but some niches have seen the biggest spike in traffic. What do people do when they are staying in home isolation?
They’re trying to switch off and focus on pleasant moments.
Can’t go to yoga anymore? Train at home. Bored in the house? Why not play some board games or video games with your family members. Humans who can work from home may need a laptop and other items for video calling. Someone may understand it’s high time to learn the Spanish language.
So, let’s take a peek at each niche that is seeing the highest boom in traffic and online searches in more detail.
#1. Grocery E-Commerce
The coronavirus pandemic is modifying customers’ shopping and financial habits by focusing on basic necessities. It’s not surprising that online grocery market value doubled from 2016 to 2018, suggesting that consumers want to minimize their contacts with other people.
As popularity grows, grocers, be it established grocery players and first-timers, are rushing to use the opportunity and create interesting proposals in an attempt to grab market share.
#2. Health and Safety Items
Personal Safety and health is no joke! Especially when it comes to the pandemic. So, it’s no wonder people want to protect themselves from infection and buy medical masks, disposable gloves, infrared electronic thermometer, protective clothing, hand sanitizer, and other anti-virus products.
Based on Nielsen data, items like hand sanitizer and medical mask sales are up by more than 300%.
Worth noting, that the three largest free-standing pharmacy chains in the United States – Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid – hold the leading positions in the online searches. The third most visited site is Goodrx. It is a newcomer in the world of big pharmacy. Using this site, people can track prescription drug prices and discounts on medicine.
#3. Games and Toys
Amid the coronavirus crisis, it’s hard to make any plans about how I will spend the summer. Parks, museums, galleries are closed, the weekly summer camps are canceled. So what’re children and their parents to do? Back to traditional entertainment options! Puzzles, which had been trending pre-pandemic, became even more popular, and board games — especially old-school versions — showed the overall highest increase in traffic as well.
After all, such games make our everyday lives much more interesting, right?
#4. Home Decoration
During the reality of Covid-19, your house is your office, your college, an art theatre, a gym, and a dozen places you used to visit. So, many consumers turn to search for cozy home elements — to make life more comfortable and convenient.
Currently millions of office workers, teachers, students, scientists, and entrepreneurs have to work from home. To work in comfort people need the proper equipment. A table you can use while staying in bed is a perfect variant while still keeping the productivity in place. And someone needs to create a workspace that’s not in bed having equipment such as chairs, lamps, and other items.
#5. Products for Home Fitness
Obviously, there’s a lot of stress right now with what’s going on in the world but people keep in mind the key benefits of exercise. It’s a wonderful way to switch off, focus on the body, and maintain sanity in these difficult times.
Being in self-quarantine means people can’t go to the gym and venture outside to do sport. However, one can do yoga and fitness at home. All you need is equipment like the yoga mat. Along with that people can really create their own home gym with things such as sports clothing, exercise machines, dumbbells, and more.
The coronavirus is sinking economies around the globe, including the United States, where non-essential businesses are closing from state to state. But some industries, including guns, online grocery stores, delivery services are seeing a boom in sales.
According to stats, an estimated 2.6 million guns were sold in the United States in March. That is an 85 percent increase over the same period last year.
People buy guns for different reasons, but self-defense is a primary motivation for gun ownership. Fear of the unknown usually comes along with panic and people want to protect what they have.
#7. Digital Streaming
The world is taken by the storm of the coronavirus pandemic, which means that most entertainment options are limited. Humans are stuck in their apartments and houses, and they have to kill time somehow. What’s first that comes to mind? TV!
As noted in the most recent Nielsen Total Audience report, media consumption has increased by 60 percent across the world. Based on this stat, it’s no surprise that people subscribe to (or continue paying for) streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+. Most video streaming services are free now, so folks can get entertainment for themselves and their family members without spending anything.
#8. Books and Literature
By the current state of things, colleges have moved from in-person to virtual education nearly overnight. It’s been a huge modification across the board, and relevant sites like Scholastic and Chegg focusing on remote learning are a must-visit for students.
With all plans essentially canceled as a result of “home isolation,” humans are seeking new ways for self-education. So, it’s no unusual that the Books and literature category is seeing the overall spike in traffic.
Holing at home during the CODID-19 pandemic, some Americans are turning to old-fashion hobbies. Baking is a wholesome at-home activity that can create a cozy atmosphere and bring on feelings of comfort and control. And, of course, the lack of restaurants has put a new emphasis on learning how to prepare your own food.
Sales of Baking items including Batter & Cocoa Mixes, Bread Crumbs, Pie & Pastry Fillings, and Cookie Decorating Kits, increased in the US by 290 percent.
Quarantine couldn’t make people reluctant to think about fashion. Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic will pass and people will start making up for a lost time – visit restaurants, galleries, bars, travel, have parties. Additionally, many clothing brands have organized epic sales to drive consumers’ wants.
A Quick Conclusion
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, people around the world have found themselves locked in their apartments and houses. In such difficult times, it’s become evident that demand in products has shifted to what’s considered essential and non-essential. Although COVID-19 has boosted e-commerce businesses including dropshipping stores, business owners need to decide what kind of items to sell in.
In this article, we have shown what is best to dropship during the coronavirus outbreak. Unlike traditional businesses, dropshippers have an advantage – they can respond to customers’ needs much faster since there’s no physical inventory on hold.
So, use this chance if you haven’t started a dropshipping business yet.