How Coronavirus Affects E-Commerce

Coronavirus strain COVID-19 is leaving turmoil in its path as it moves internationally. With quarantines & product shortages, the pressure on E-Commerce grows.

Coronavirus strain COVID-19 is leaving turmoil in its path as it moves internationally. With quarantines & product shortages, the pressure on E-Commerce grows.

Addressing COVID-19 Within E-Commerce

Recent months have been plagued with the well-known COVID-19 disease, part of the coronavirus family. With communities self-quarantining, families stocking up on essentials, and commercial trade faltering, the question is raised: how do E-Commerce companies carry on amidst a worldwide outbreak? 

A Boom in E-Commerce: Good or Bad?

It’s hard to imagine many scenarios where an upsurge in E-Commerce wouldn’t be welcomed with open arms, but COVID-19 is changing that. With just over 450 cases in the UK at the time of writing and an officially-declared pandemic by the WHO, provisional supply demand is an all-time high. Continuing worries have had communities avoiding public stores – if they’re even still open – in favor of online stores. 

E-Commerce platforms and providers are handling increased business from their normal customers as well as those that don’t typically use online retailers, a pressure heightened by primarily bulk orders. 

A spike in online sales doesn’t end there though. For platforms that carry essential goods, most notably Amazon, there’s reason for buyers to purchase memberships. These effects will continue to be felt going forward as shoppers make the most of their paid subscriptions. Because online shopping once greatly increases a consumer’s likelihood of purchasing online again, and with memberships that last beyond the virus, E-Commerce won’t be slowing anytime soon – a pressure that is nearly too much. 

When Pressure Becomes Problematic: COVID-19 on a Global Scale

If it feels like emerging news about the coronavirus appears every hour, that’s because it does. With such a rapidly changing pandemic path, there’s often no predicting how commerce (online or off) will be affected next. It’s clearer more than ever that the items we use most don’t have a broader global source.  Much of the world is highly dependent on China and other foreign providers for certain products. It’s easy to see how an outbreak that originated in East Asia is posing unique supply chain problems. 

Increased demand doesn’t necessarily mean increased supply, and retailers are struggling to obtain materials and labor while more and more employees continue to fall ill. Product shortages are occurring both in-shop and online, especially for non-perishables, hand sanitiser, and toilet paper.  Even in instances where material goods are available, distributors lack the manpower necessary to fulfil orders, affecting every supply chain stage from processing to delivery.

Conversely, high-end brands have faced a short-term decline, because right now, luxury items are seen as just that: luxury. Consumers are choosing to save money or only spend it on essentials, especially with news that a global recession is seeming inevitable.

Events Among E-Commerce

In an effort to reduce transmission, many events are experiencing cancellations or postponements. Among these are the United States’ SXSW, Coachella, and Stagecoach – which were set to provide over $400 million in revenue alone. Millions of weddings and funerals have been canceled in Europe, most notably in Italy. Schools across the globe are closing their doors, and several universities are going online for the remainder of the year. Sporting events and leagues around the world are now being cancelled or indefinitely postponed. Even Shopify Unite 2020, Shopify’s annual conference held in Canada this year, will be canceled.

What Can E-Commerce Merchants Do?

Info, Info, Info

Keeping open and swift email communication with your customers is essential. Consumers want to know that the merchants they support are doing their best to work alongside national committees, local authorities, and health and safety experts.

Encourage or Implement Working From Home

One of the biggest pros to working in E-Commerce is the potential for employees to fulfil most of their daily duties from home. For those in administration or office positions, working remotely helps keep people safer from the spread of coronavirus.

Provide Paid Sick Leave

On March 11th, the UK government announced the capability to cover sick pay for small businesses, a measure that encourages its implementation by increasing companies’ financial security. Adding paid sick days for any employees affected by COVID-19 can help prevent in-office exposure. 

Offer Flexible Delivery

Additional options for delivery can be extraordinarily helpful for customers. There’s no way of knowing if they or someone in their household is sick. Recently, many merchants have added interaction-less delivery, where products can be left at the door without need for a signature.

Rewards, Discounts, and Pre-Orders

For items that are facing delays in production, or those with postponed release dates, consider offering some form of compensation for customers. Some options applied thus far are discounting pre-orders, giving refunds, or awarding vouchers either for the full or additional value of their purchase to be used at a later date.

The Future of Commerce Under COVID-19

Knowing that countries can take months to recover from COVID-19 has global implications that no commerce provider can predict. Radiant recognises the unique situation posed for us, our clients, and the world. Get in touch with us if you have any concerns about your website's capacity during COVID-19, or any other requirements you may have.