After all the deaths and economic downfall of many countries, it would be an understatement to say that COVID-19 has seriously disturbed normal functioning of life. The year 2020 will be labeled as the year of pandemic and it would take round about a decade for economy to be completely stable after taking a critical strike due to the virus.
Now, things are finally getting better. People have learned to survive in a COVID infected society by following SOPs and exercising social distancing. But still, we do remember how messy things were when it first started. It was complete chaos. People didn’t know what was coming so they started to buy things in panic, hence the term Panic shopping which will be used a lot in this article.
From buying dozens of toilet paper rolls to sanitizers and masks, people were bulk buying everything they could get their hands on. Now, this mad streak of shopping was very lucrative for ecommerce store owners because their inventories were getting cleared out in less than twelve hours.
Today, we’ll be diving in deep to understand the effects of COVID-19 on ecommerce.
Why sudden increase in sales of Ecommerce stores?
In a situation of chaos and panic, we do everything in our power to bring things back to normal as much as we can. Finding stability in chaos is basic human nature. When the pandemic started, Governments all over the world started to take necessary steps to stop the virus. Shutting down businesses and some not so vital services was one of them.
That freaked people out, and since it was the first time for most to experience a medical emergency on an international level, people were unsure of what to do next. So, they started buying every basic thing they could think of. We got to see many displays of violence and people arguing to get the supplies.
Ecommerce stores earned a lot in this period of mass hysteria because when the stores went empty and people were forced to stay in homes, they went online to get what they needed. As a result, a sharp spike in the graph of online buying was observed. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the strict lockdown period was the golden time of their lives for most Ecommerce store owners.
But it wasn’t all cakes and lollipops for store owners either because with huge demand comes huge responsibility and challenges. These were the challenges that made an Ecommerce giant like Amazon to lose its customers and credibility in market. Let’s see what those challenges were.
Challenges faced by giants like Amazon.
What do you think happens when billions of people start buying everything of daily use from tooth paste to toilet paper, hand sanitizer to face mask from online stores? That’s right! No matter how big the store is, they sooner or later run out of things.
That’s exactly what happened when people had no option but to go online and buy everything. The demand was high and for a limited time ecommerce stores were able to keep the demand and supply in balance but the problem was the demand was just too high! Store owners weren’t able to get enough stock to fulfill the needs of their customers.
And that wasn’t it! Amazon’s worst nightmare began when their loyal customers started leaving them because they weren’t delivering at their same speed. Anthony Ferry, the chief executive officer of price spider said that many people started to visit Walmart Inc. and Target Inc. when Seattle based Amazon was overwhelmed in April. He also said “Loyal Amazon shoppers left the site when they saw long delivery times or items were out of stock. Buy-online pickup-in store has become a much more enticing and desirable solution when people want something now”.
Amazon suffered a lot during that period because they didn’t just lose money but also lost their customer’s trust. It took them quite a while to get things under control completely. Amazon hired about 175,000 new employees to get the situation under control again.
When giant like Amazon was busy with dealing with its problems, there were other renowned names in the market that improvised creatively and generated enormous revenue. Let’s take a look at them as well.
Improvisation in Crisis means Cash for Ecommerce stores
During the struggle between users demanding for more and stores being unable to maintain the supply, there were stores like Target who improvised carefully and earned generated a lot of revenue. Target.co reported the best sales growth in a decade during the time of lockdown. And that wasn’t just during the time when people were doing panic shopping, it lasted way after that as well.
In the first fiscal quarter, Minneapolis-based Target reported the revenue of about $19.6 Billion. Target got more than 5 Million new users in this period. So, from these numbers you can guess how great of a time it was Target. But the question is that what did Target do which increased their sales so much?
Well, the improvisation that these guys did was introducing the drive-up pickup service. Target understood in the very start of the outbreak that whatever they do, they certainly won’t be able to provide speedy delivery service to all their customers. So, instead of putting effort in increasing the delivery staff they started to think of an alternative. And that was when the decided to use drive-up pickup service.
Just simply place your order online and go to the store’s physical location and pick up your products. Just simple as that! Not only that this saved Target from going into the trouble of thinking about making timely deliveries but they were also able to attract many customers who were sick of waiting due to later delivery of Amazon.
So, not only that Target was able to grab more market in the time of chaos but also managed to attract loyal customers of other platforms as well.
It surely was a time of chaos and grief as people were dying all around the world and everyone was afraid of tomorrow. But, it was a blessing in disguise for small brands and Ecommerce store owners as they were able to earn more and build their reputation in the market as well. It also gave giants like Amazon a lesson to be always prepared for anything. Overall, it was a great period for Ecommerce but with fair share of problems to deal with. And even now when things have gotten way better, people are still buying things online just because they’ve gotten so used to it that they don’t want to leave it anymore.
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