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Cheryl SmithWestern Washington University[email protected]

Essay :

How Coronavirus Is Impacting eCommerce

Online shopping has been popular with the rise of smartphones and accessible internet. With the click of a button you can have your groceries ordered, your Christmas gifts show up at your doorstep, and even have the ability to purchase a new car!

The coronavirus pandemic caused the popularity of online shopping to go through the roof! As people were advised to stay in their homes, people resorted to purchasing and receiving their everyday items from the safety of their residence; this led to an increase in online sales and greatly boosted the eCommerce industry.

At the start of the pandemic, there was confusion and panic; this translated into the shopping habits of consumers. With all of the uncertainty and need for new supplies, brick and mortar stores quickly sold out of essentials and medical supplies like masks and hand sanitizer. Others preferred to shop from home instead of putting themselves at risk. People turned to the internet to safely locate and acquire essential products. Because of the sudden increase in demand, prices for the goods skyrocketed giving a massive boost to eCommerce.

Here are some numbers that correlate to the increase in eCommerce:

  • In the first six months of 2019, consumers spent $266.84 billion from US retailers.
  • Over the same period in 2020, consumers spent $347.26 billion online;

That is a 30.1% increase!

Comparatively, retail sales in the first half of 2019 and 2020 increased by a mere 4%.

Different areas of eCommerce shopping experienced massive spikes in their revenue. Grocery eCommerce revenue increased over the last two weeks of March by just under 250% from the previous year.

Another area that saw a huge increase in revenue was medical supplies at an increase of 500% from the previous year. Additional areas that saw a spike in their eCommerce revenue were baby products, cleaning supplies, health/wellness items, and toys and games.

Online subscription services saw an influx of subscribers because of the coronavirus pandemic. The revenue brought in by these services increased by over 200% towards the end of March, 2020.

The popular streaming company Netflix brought in 16 million new subscribers in quarter one and 10 million more in quarter two; this combines for a total of 26 million new subscribers for the first six months of 2020. (In 2019, Netflix added 28 million new subscribers for the whole year).

The eCommerce industry is on the rise and many retailers have adjusted their business models to fit this increase in popularity. More retail stores have created a curbside pickup program that allows customers to order online and pick up at the store without having to leave their cars.

In 2019, 6.9% of retailers listed in the top 245 of the Digital Commerce 360 Top 500 list offered curbside pickup; as of August 2020, that percentage jumped to 43.7%.

This shows the increase in popularity of eCommerce shopping and how retailers have adjusted to fit this trend.

As we are still fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the eCommerce success can only go up from here. Consumers are still unsure about going into public to acquire essentials needed to provide for their families and are continuing to shop online.

We have been in quarantine for just over 8 months, so people are still looking for ways to entertain their families; therefore, online subscriptions could continue to increase and contribute to the strong eCommerce market.

Furthermore, the pandemic could have created an unbreakable habit relating to the way we obtain the products we want and need; we will simply have to wait and see.