With no end to the lockdown currently in sight, many owners are rightly concerned about the impact coronavirus is having on their businesses. The statistics shown here, drawn from a range of sources, reveal how the pandemic is affecting eCommerce and online marketing. Though most of what they reveal isn’t positive news, there are areas which have remained buoyant and some which have even thrived. There are also glimmers of hope from seeing how other countries have begun to bounce back.
Marketing campaigns postponed and reviewed
A survey by Econsultancy and Marketing Week has shown the impact of the pandemic on marketing. According to the figures, 62% of UK companies have changed their marketing campaigns and 24% have postponed them, leaving only 14% of companies continuing with pre-COVID strategies. Those making changes said this was done in response to shifting consumer demands and because of a refocus towards digital products and content.
eCommerce shrinks – but not everywhere
While not every business has been affected equally, the overall growth in UK eCommerce has shrunk by over 5% compared to last year’s March figures. One of the worst affected areas was fashion, down by almost a quarter.
It is not all bad news, however, between February and March online sales grew by over 2.5%. Buoyed by a sunny start to spring, sales of gardening equipment and supplies increased by a healthy 95%, while home entertainment and remote working electronics rose by 40%. And while we’re not buying clothes to go out, we are pampering ourselves with more beauty products – an area that has grown by over 30%.
US risers and fallers
The US, which currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases, has seen staggering increases in demand for some products, many of which are also much in demand in the UK and EU. These include bread makers and disposable rubber gloves, with sales of both rising over 650%. Other products with a three-figure rise include fitness weights, dishwasher tablets and cough remedies.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest losers in terms of sales were those items relating to travel, with luggage dropping by 77% and cameras and swimwear by 64%. The cancellations of weddings also saw sales of bridalwear slump by over 60%.
UK grocery spend increases
The average UK family is spending an extra £60 a month on groceries during the lockdown and this has led to a 7.6% growth over the first quarter of the year. While supermarkets have seen a growth of over 20% in sales, during March alone, this was surpassed by local grocery stores which grew by over 30%, with shoppers staying nearer to home and in less busy stores. Local shops now account for 13% of the total UK grocery market.
Had the fulfilment infrastructure been in place, is likely that online grocery shopping would have been the area of biggest growth during the pandemic. However, major supermarkets and grocery delivery companies like Ocado are working at full capacity and many are restricting deliveries to those most vulnerable to the virus. While many local stores are offering delivery of telephone orders, they lack the IT infrastructure to enable online shopping.
Mixed news for email marketing
According to BounceX, being stuck at home has increased the likelihood of marketing emails being opened, with opening rates increasing by 40% in the six weeks to mid-April. While that’s positive news for marketers, the downside is that there has been a decrease in clickthroughs and conversion rates by over 10%. This may not mean a reduction in the numbers of website visits and sales, rather it could be that the extra 40% of people opening them are not enticed to follow calls to action.
Social media ups and downs
The use of social media has grown significantly during the lockdown with people using it to stay in touch with friends and family. While this may seem like a good time to advertise, like email, engagement has decreased. As a result, there is less competition for advertising and so CPM costs have fallen by 60% compared to November 2019.
A glimmer of hope
While the UK and US are still in the midst of the pandemic, other countries are starting to emerge from the most restrictive elements of lockdown and the signs of economic resurgence are beginning to appear. In Italy, for example, online fashion orders fell by 40% during the worst weeks of the crisis, in the last couple of weeks, however, there has been an 18% increase. Meanwhile, in East Asia, the area first affected by the virus, the cost of CPM advertising has returned to the levels in place prior the start of the pandemic, an indication that brands are beginning to see increased engagement and conversion rates.
These statistics show how coronavirus and the lockdown imposed because of it are affecting eCommerce and marketing. While the overall impact is a negative one, there are areas which have benefitted from the shift in consumer spending patterns. There are also indications from Italy and East Asia, that some form of normality will return.
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