How is Covid-19 reshaping e-commerce?

Author: Tijana Krsmanović and Teodora Dajmanović, Novaston Marketing Consultancy

How is Covid-19 reshaping e-commerce?

And then coronavirus came along! All around the world, across the meridians, without any regard for nationality, age, financial net worth, or housing situation...

With a view to protecting ourselves and preventing further spread, experts are advising us to stay home, practice social distancing, and minimize physical contact with other people. The pandemic that hit us has definitely changed our habits, behavior, and the way we do and organize business. In these new circumstances, people are turning to online shopping and home shopping as safe ways to get what they need — as well as what they might not need at this time but that is just a few clicks away. By the same token, it doesn’t put us in a position to risk our health, because it is indeed contactless.

According to Digital 2020 Global Overview, we spend seven hours online every day! Taking the new circumstances into account, this number can only increase. On March 17, Logistiek.nl and Digital Commerce published their projections for online shopping growth by 57% and 52% respectively, and an 8.8% jump in the number of people shopping online.

One noticeable thing is that online shopping has increased in categories like food, hygiene products, and food delivery. The forecasts suggest that these categories will benefit from the current situation, and not just during isolation. Instead, people will have adopted these habits by the time everything slowly goes back to normal.

It is recommended that before any online purchase we get informed about the online seller, its call center hours, delivery times... If there are no card payment options or any other online payment options, the smartest thing would be to set aside the exact amount and reduce contact with the delivery person. While receiving the delivery, make sure that you protect yourself in line with the recommended steps — face mask, gloves, and maintaining a distance of six feet apart. By doing so, you’re protecting not only yourself but also the delivery person and your loved ones. Make sure to load up on both understanding and patience, because chances are that deliveries will be delayed given the circumstances.

Now, when it comes to deliveries from abroad, the situation is a bit more difficult. Considering that borders are being closed, your delivery might arrive a lot later than expected or not at all. Perhaps it would be wise to postpone these buys until a better, corona-free time, which will hopefully come soon.

All in all, we should all get behind #stayathome, not just as a hashtag included in Instagram posts, but also as part of everyday life. Here's hoping that this hashtag will soon change into #getawayweekend, and stay healthy, take care, and look after what you prize the most.

We asked...

Maja MarkovićAs the virus crisis continues, we asked Maja Marković, Head of Digital Marketing at Mercator-S, what consequences it would have on shopping. “We are witnessing that habits in grocery shopping are changing, as is in part the structure of customers: from the average customer (female, around 45 years of age, higher income, higher education), the interest in online grocery shopping has emerged equally among both genders and all age categories, with a noticeable growth in younger customers who order goods for delivery to their parents' addresses. It is up to us, the participants in the e-commerce market, to take advantage of the current situation for the benefit of all participants in the digital ecosystem. In order for this to happen and for the entire process to run smoothly, every player in the entire online sales chain has an important role — online stores, courier services and logistics, banks and other payment institutions, IT companies, and the media. Those brands that can redirect their technological capacities and investments to digital platforms will reduce the pandemic’s impact and maintain smooth operation, both for the time being and in the long run,” said Maja Marković.

Mihailo PonjavićAccording to Mihailo Ponjavić, CEO of SuperKartica, online performance is generating excellent results. “Although SuperKartica is not a conventional form of e-commerce in terms of transactions, what we are seeing right now suggests that we need to prepare for a slew of changes that will stay with consumers after this situation. Our best indicator is the IDEA online shop, which has doubled the number of registered users in comparison with the monthly average. Tehnomanija is also showing identical patterns — an upswing in visits of more than 30% and increased sales of IT and gaming equipment. We are also noticing increased sales of small home appliances for food preparation, household appliances, and sports equipment, thanks to the fact that exercising has moved away from streets and parks into houses and apartments. As for SuperKartica, we noticed a 19% downswing in the number of active users compared with the previous weeks, which is a result of the restrictions on the movement of pensioners and the shortening of working hours, accompanied by a lower frequency of purchases, as well as bigger consumer baskets. This mainly applies to IDEA, RODA, and MERCATOR outlets, where the average SuperKartica bill has spiked more than 62%. On the other hand, we are seeing a noticeable 30% jump in cashless payment transactions on our co-branded products Platna SuperKartica and SuperKartica Plus, which we run in partnership with Sberbank,” said Mihailo Ponjavić.

Zorana MilidragZorana Milidrag, Global eCommerce Director, Sport Vision, said the state of emergency is bringing about emergency circumstances resulting in changing consumer habits. “Although sports equipment is not grouped under essential items, as the state of emergency was stretching out, people interestingly made more time to exercise at home, which in turn prompted a rise in sports equipment sales. Customers have been cautiously shifting to online shopping, with March seeing an increase in dozens of percent, while in April the numbers reached several hundred — demonstrating a change in habits and greater customer confidence in this form of shopping. Retailers and service providers that already had established digital sales channels were able to retain their customers and secure steady cash flows for their companies to endure. On the other hand, online stores are popping up in droves, which is a particularly positive trend to me as the president of the eCommerce Association of Serbia, where together with experts in the field I make daily efforts to promote eCommerce in Serbia. There are those retailers that still think that eCommerce is complicated and beyond their capacities. However, this is a major misconception that can cost them their survival in the market. Given that the situation will not change overnight, and it will take time to stabilize brick and mortar, I believe that electronic commerce will continue to see sales climb. When all this is over, customers who are happy with the online shopping experience are expected to keep making purchases this way. My message to everyone is to take this opportunity and never again put themselves in a position to fall out of touch with their customers, and I am certain that once they see the potential of eCommerce, they will start to push for this sales channel.”, pointed out Zorana Milidrag.

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