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Coronavirus Impact on E-Commerce
In the current global situation, many stores are closing, forcing consumers to rely on online shopping as their main mode of purchase. To accommodate demand online, retail has rapidly expanded, with new categories expecting unprecedented short term gains.
As a result, businesses must adapt and think to the future to survive. To help you manoeuvre this uncertain period, we’ve analysed early findings and past case studies to better understand how consumer behaviour will change in the long term.
When preparing for the changing economy it’s important to recall the long term boost experienced by online retailers after the SARS crisis of 2002 and 2003. E-Commerce grew significantly in this time as people gradually moved from offline to online shopping. The sudden popularity of online retailers like Alibaba and JD.com shaped a habit that didn’t disappear when the epidemic was over. Businesses who survive the rocky economy created by coronavirus could experience similar long term benefits.
With shops ordered to close by the government, online sales have increased. Between January and February of this year, ‘Brick and Mortar’ retailers have seen an average revenue growth of 52%, and a 8.8% increase in conversion rates. In the US in 2019, online retail sales represented 11.4% of total spending, this is set to rise to 12% or higher in 2020.
As consumers shift towards online spending, it is natural that projections will change, however, supply chain issues and declining consumer demand will also factor into how the virus and its impact on the economy will play out. With that said, a lot can be surmised from how the Chinese economy has already adapted to the virus.
In China, businesses within the food industry chose to redirect budgets in response to the crisis. Many opted to accelerate their existing digital transformation, or reinvest all resources into digital marketing. Others focused on adapting their service to provide take away meals or recipe kits. Master Kong, the instant noodle producer, instead focused on changing their supply chain, allowing them to supply up to 60% of the stores that reopened in this period. By planning ahead, they effectively beat out their competition when it came to relaunching. Forethought such as this is what will help small businesses in the West survive.
So far in the West, we have already seen the rapid expansion of eGroceries, with delivery volumes rising way beyond normal levels. Judging by other countries, this industry will continue to grow. China reported the rise in sales of raw food products like vegetables, fruit and meat in particular. Suppliers such as Alibaba Group have seen grocery orders double, with numbers continuing to grow every day.
With many unable to visit pharmacies or doctors, healthcare providers in China such as JD Health have launched free online tools and consultation services to help chronically ill patients receive their medication. Alibaba has also taken to delivering to hospitals, shelters etc. to meet increased demand. They also created a B2B sourcing platform that matches sellers to local government needs. It is crucial that Western businesses also get creative to accommodate the changing market.
Luxury, Fashion & Beauty
With non-vital services being forced to close their stores, luxury brands have had to refocus their attention to their online stores. Chinese cosmetic and fashion companies have developed several techniques to survive the change. Cosmetic company Lin Qingxuan benefitted from encouraging all staff to become online influencers, resulting in a 200% growth compared to the previous year. Whereas, fashion brands have shifted to selling on WeChat and launching virtual showrooms that allow customers to try on clothes while confined to their home.
For businesses across the world, full-scale digitisation is at the forefront of their survival plan. This was already a strong trend, but coronavirus is arguably the final nail in the coffin for our reliance on bricks and mortar stores, and we are unlikely to see the market go back to exactly what it was before when the pandemic is over.
Despite the shock that this pandemic has had on the economy, we can see from the companies flourishing throughout the world, and in the UK, that we can adapt to the shifting market. However. whatever industry you’re in, it takes creativity, innovation and investment in omnichannel technologies to sustain consumer demand in this uncertain and ever-changing time.
The pressure is ultimately on eCommerce to lead the transformation, so if you want to maintain or boost your digital marketing efforts, get in touch with our team of digital experts today. We can help you effectively leverage your assets to stimulate growth and increase sales, allowing you to thrive in the current commerce climate.