As we all hunker down and distance ourselves from each other, many businesses have been affected. Events and travel related businesses, restaurants, and retails stores to name a few have all been severely impacted during this crisis. On the flip side, one aspect of business that benefited from the pandemic has been e-commerce.
As somewhat expected, there has been a tremendous increase in purchases done online. As physical shelves at grocery stores became bare, people flocked online to make their grocery purchases (we needed that TP!) and while at first grocery purchases were the bulk of the purchases, other items started to sell a lot. Items such as exercising equipment, puzzles, painting sets, Nintendo Switch, and home office computing devices flew off the virtual shelves. As time of writing, most webcams at Bestbuy.ca are completely sold out.
Amazon, of course, has been one of the main benefactors and saw their revenues increase by 26% for their first quarter of 2020 even though only part of one month of the quarter occurred during the social distancing restrictions. They have even put production code freeze in place, a restriction typically reserved for events such as Black Friday or Prime Day. In Canada, Indigo saw 300% increases in their online sales. Closer to home, one of our long time customers, Forever Yours Lingerie, a local lingerie store has seen similar increases. Those increases are likely (we don’t have the numbers yet) not fully compensating the loss of physical retail sales but still welcomed news. On the job front, while the rest of the world is laying off people, companies that create e-commerce solutions such as Spocket and Shopify are hiring in bulk, more hints that the e-commerce growth trend is not reserved to a few companies.
It is too early to tell if that trend will continue for long as perhaps a lot of the purchases were completed as a rebound reaction to this life-changing event. Furthermore, one would assume that eventually, people’s reserves will start to dwindle and as more and more people find themselves unemployed, items that are not essentials will start to see a decrease in demand. One thing that will likely persist though, is that e-commerce will likely be more ingrained in people’s behaviours. One could say “but everything is already online! How is that different?”. While the saying may be true as e-commerce has been around for roughly 20 years, it only accounted for roughly 14% of all retail sales (2019). And that’s perhaps the biggest impact the pandemic will have on e-commerce. More users will become comfortable making purchases online especially the slow adopters. The impact will be that retail stores that were likely to consider closing their physical doors within the next 5 years and switch to purely online sales will now likely need to make the shift sooner than originally anticipated.
A lot of this article is speculative and perhaps the data sample is too small to make any substantial predictions but at 14 Oranges, we have already seen an increase in demand for e-commerce solutions such as Magento and WordPress + WooCommerce. Fortunately, we have been implementing, deploying, and supporting e-commerce solutions since 2001 and are well prepared to help companies make the shift. As mentioned before, now may be a good time to leverage some of the loans and programs provided by the government to invest in your company’s future and better prepare yourself for something that was going to happen, regardless of the pandemic, over the next few years.
If your company is considering making the plunge or making improvements to your current e-commerce solutions, feel free to contact us. We would be happy to discuss your options.