Study of COVID's Impact on Ecommerce by Industry
During lockdown, more of us than ever depended on internet shopping and postal services to receive items from our favourite brands. According to Online Retail Index, we’re experiencing a new 12-year high for ecommerce sales which has not seen such levels since 2008.
But are all industries faring similarly?
We’ve had a look at our own clients (around 100 of them) to find out just which industries saw the largest jumps in sales, and which struggled to find the lift they needed.
Doing it ourselves
DIY and haircare both saw large jumps during lockdown - 180% and 115% respectively. In our opinion, this points towards a change between having handymen and hairdressers provide these services for us, and having a go ourselves.
Two fifths of Britons have been estimated to have undertaken a DIY project during lockdown, suggesting that the time at home between furlough and the simple cancellation of all weekend and evening plans gave many the opportunity to tackle some home improvements.
Taking DIY to our personal grooming, “lockdown haircuts” have become something of a comedic time capsule for this unusual period. Such misfortunes were not for lack of interest, it would seem, as there was a large increase in Google searches for “how to cut hair” during this time.
Lack of demand
In the cases of the fashion and jewellery industries, there simply wasn’t the same lift as other areas saw - nor the same drop afterwards.
In our opinion, this is primarily due to a lack of demand.
There were no weddings or formal events to attend, nor meetings or conventions to travel to, eliminating the need for occasion wear. We also saw thousands of flights cancelled and travel bans put in place, meaning that no one could holiday in their chosen destinations and had no reason to buy up summer dresses and floppy hats. Not only that, but as of April 2020, 49.2% of the British workforce is working from home, where the typical uniform is a pair of old sweats and a t-shirt from the day before - goodbye shirts and ties!
Of course, the fashion and jewellery industries performed differently - jewellery seeming to fare slightly better with a larger rise which stayed in positive figures come the end of lockdown.
The reason this may be has two prongs. Firstly, jewellery is often given as a gift, and with regular stores shut down, many people may have gone to online stores to find something extra special for a quarantine birthday or socially isolated anniversary.
The second prong may be the simple fact that fashion items are more likely to be returned due to sizing issues and fits, and with governmental advice being for all of us to stay home, some people may not have considered the possibility of running a return to the post office worth the risk.
What does this mean for online shopping?
For one, online shopping is only going to get bigger. This pandemic doesn’t seem to be a one season kind of issue and companies are going to have to prepare for secondary waves, localised lockdowns, and a general distrust of crowded shopping spaces from their customers. Those without a handy website from which to purchase from, such as Primark, may find themselves left behind their competitors.
Not only that, but this is an opportune time for brands to introduce themselves digitally to shoppers who may have only ever purchased items in person. If a brand can make a good first impression with appealing web imagery and easy checkouts, they could find new lifelong customers.
We must also consider how industries change as culture does. Ship building and linen weaving are no longer the backbone of Belfast’s economy and we wouldn’t expect them to be as the modern day has welcomed commercial aircraft and more efficient textile making. Some niche stores, particularly those not suited to a digital space or in once-busy office areas, may find themselves obsolete in the wake of COVID-19.
Only time will tell, of course, and there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of industry and the economy. However, we would encourage all businesses to be as well prepared as possible for what may be a bumpy ride - or the beginning of a new world of sales.