COVID-19 in the world of E-commerce


The COVID-19 global pandemic is likely the biggest "event" of 2020 and it will have implications that last well into the following years. Social distancing measures, restaurants, shops, small businesses shutting down for safety reasons are now something common for each and every one of us.

This may also be the very catalyst that would drive people to shop online more and go out in brick-and-mortar stores less.

A considerable uplift in eCommerce B2C shipments, can be seen,  at both local and global levels which has specifically been driven by the COVID situation and the fact that all traditional bricks and mortar stores have transitioned to online. Everyone simply has to order online without the choice of physically going to a store.

The number of online shoppers went crazy up right at the beginning of the pandemic when the WHO announced the severity of the situation and people started ordering loads of medical supplies online. As the demand increased, so did the prices.

Humans respond to crises in different ways. When faced with an uncertain, risky situation over which we have no control, we tend to try whatever we can to feel like we have some control.

The coronavirus outbreak is not only transforming the way consumers shop but also how they pay for their purchases. Contactless payments received an unprecedented boost during the pandemic, seen by consumers as a cleaner way to pay in-store. Consumers are also trying out new payment methods while purchasing from E-commerce websites, and favour those methods that have the strongest protection against fraud losses.

Overall, total payment volumes are expected to decrease in 2020 due to losses in travel and in-store segments, but resume growth in 2021 and benefit from the shift to cashless payments and online shopping.

The SARS crisis in 2003 is widely known for kickstarting Alibaba’s and other Chinese companies’ e-commerce successes in Asia. Alibaba launched its online marketplace for consumers during the SARS crisis when many Chinese were at home in quarantine. Likewise, Chinese JD Multimedia (now JD.com) migrated the business from offline to online channels in response to SARS and is ow one of China’s largest retailers. The SARS pandemic accelerated the behavioral change of the internet becoming the mass medium in China.
The COVID-19 crisis will result in permanent change to our shopping behavior and ways of conducting business

As people are making buying choices based on new and ever-changing global and local circumstances, the product categories that are being purchased are also changing.

Market research company Nielsen has identified six key consumer behavior thresholds tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and their results on markets.

These are:

  • Proactive health-minded buying (purchasing preventative health and wellness products).
  • Reactive health management (purchasing protective gear like masks and hand sanitizers).
  • Pantry preparation (stockpiling groceries and household essentials).
  • Quarantine prep (experiencing shortages in stores, making fewer store visits).
  • Restricted living (making much fewer shopping trips, limited online fulfillment).
  • A new normal (return to daily routines, permanently altered supply chain).

As we progress through these stages, the items people choose to buy and the product categories that thrive continue to change.


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