The Influence of COVID-19 in E-commerce


I think one thing that we all would agree on is that 2020 has been a nightmare of sorts. While the majority of industries saw a drop in numbers of customer engagement, E-commerce saw a rise in customer engagement and interaction that has made a change to the E-commerce market.

WHAT IS E-Commerce

E-commerce includes buying and selling of products or services or any kind through the internet by a consumer, retailer, or business. There are different types E-commerce transaction:

  • B2B (Business-to-business)-Alibaba
  • B2C (Business to Consumer)-Amazon
  • C2C (Consumer to Consumer)- eBay

Challenged with the new lockdown rules and regulations, consumers have had to find other platforms to get their shopping done.

From shopping for daily essentials to medicine, recent surveys show that the share of online buying has risen, while some accepted this practice for the first time due to the outbreak. Global retail sales through E-commerce have gone up and are expected to reach on-third in sales in the next few years.

The Covdi19 outbreak is not only changing the way consumers shop but how they pay for their purchases. Contactless payments have seen exceptional growth during the pandemic since consumers see it as a safer way to pay. Consumers are also trying out new payment methods while purchasing from E-Commerce websites and refer to those practices that have the safest protection against fraud losses.


As news of COVID-19 spread and it was officially declared a pandemic by the WHO (World Health Organization), people responded to it by stocking up. Humans respond to crises in various ways. When faced with uncertainty, we tend to try whatever we can to feel like we have some control of a situation.

In an interview Paul Marsden, a consumer psychologist at the University of the Arts London was quoted by CNBC as saying that “Panic buying can be understood as playing to our three fundamental psychological needs”.

  • Autonomy (the need to feel in control of your actions)
  • Relatedness (the need to feel that we are doing something to benefit our families)
  • Competence (the need to feel like smart shoppers making the correct choice).

These psychological aspects are the same reasons “retail therapy” is a response to many different types of personal crises; however, during a pandemic there can be other added aspects.

Product Categories Shifting During COVID-19

With these ever-changing circumstances consumers are making buying choices that are affecting product categories. Market research company ‘Nielsen’ has identified the below consumer behavior levels tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and their results on markets.

Proactive health-minded buying (buying preventive health and wellness products).

Reactive health management (buying protecting gear like masks and hand sanitizers).

Pantry preparation (storing groceries and other essentials).

Quarantine prep (experiencing shortages in stores, making fewer store visits).

Restricted living (making much fewer shopping trips, due to online shopping).

A new normal (return to daily routines, with an altered supply chain).

When consumers make advances through these stages, the items they choose to buy and the product categories that thrive change. Below are some of the product categories that have been most affected as a result.

1. Health and safety products.

Hygienic and medical mask sales are up by more than 300%. If you have seen empty shelves at the supermarkets or overcharging for such products, you know that these products are selling way faster than they are produced and restocked.

2. Shelf-stable goods.
According to Nielsen, products like shelf-stable milk and milk substitutes (particularly oat milk) are up by more than 300% in dollar growth. Other items seeing increases are things like dried beans, fruit snacks and canned food that have a long shelf life.

3. Food and beverage.
While there is an increasing number of sales of groceries being purchased, there are some behavioural changes around the way people are buying groceries.
For example, to avoid crowds at supermarkets, many people are choosing BOPIS (buy-online-pick-up-in-store) or other options. Some apps allow you to hire personal shoppers to prepare and, in some cases, deliver your grocery orders. These apps have seen an increase of 100% and more in consumer sales.

4. Digital streaming.
Other than food & safety it comes as no surprise that as people are homebound and can no longer engage in outdoor entertainment. This has increased subscribers in digital streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

5. Luxury goods.
While some industries and services are increasing in sales other industries are not performing as well. In addition to obvious ones like entertainment and travel, one area predicted to have had significant losses are the luxury goods industry.
Vogue Business projects a potential loss great as $10 billion for this industry in 2020 due to COVID-19.

6. Fashion and apparel.
People are understandably not interested in shopping for clothes in person. Department stores are switching to online shopping since it is safer. Online apparel sales have seen a drop since people are focusing more now on daily essentials as they must manage with salary cuts and other financial burdens.

In Conclusion looks like Covi19 has not only changed the way we live but also changed the way we shop. Your customers are trying their best to adapt to these strange times and behavioural changes. As a business owner, you are facing the same uncertainty as they are and learning to support their needs. We hope that this article has helped you understand your customers better and understand why there is a change in your consumer behaviour. If you are looking to understand your customers more and see how E-commerce can benefit you get in touch with us today!

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