How Coronavirus is Impacting International E-commerce

08 June, 2020

The coronavirus has swept through almost every industry, resulting in regrettable closures for some, lean times for others, and record sales for businesses that were simply positioned in the right place at the right time.

The need for contactless transactions and social distancing, combined with the fact that only essential goods retailers have been operational has turned e-commerce into the go-to platform for vendors looking to keep customers safe while still being able to distribute their goods.

Admittedly, the market has been volatile as consumers are cautious with their spending in anticipation of economic challenges, but in countries like the US, for example, revenue growth for online retailers had gone up by 68% by as early as mid-April.

In this article, we look at the impact that COVID-19 has had on the e-commerce industry and how businesses have adapted to the changes.

Online presence

With most people now relying on the internet to browse for products, it's become increasingly important for e-commerce stores to step up their game. Many companies have made investments in improving online user experience (UX) and creating impressive online catalogues. Since customers can't touch or try something on as they usually would in a store, it's become crucial to have high-quality content in the form of pictures, videos, and descriptions to help customers make the right purchasing decision.

Offering secure payment options and a selection of trusted portals is essential to get customers through the checkout. E-commerce businesses are having to ramp up their anti-fraud tools and protect themselves and customers from online predators. According to reports, the FBI experienced nearly four times the number of calls into its Internet Crime Complaint Center since the onset of the pandemic. So the lesson here is, to win over your customers (who may be particularly cautious at this time) it's crucial to take all the necessary precautionary measures when it comes to payments and web security.

Inventory demands

COVID-19 has certainly pushed certain products to the top of everyone's shopping lists – hand sanitiser, toilet rolls, and spaghetti being amongst the top sellers. Changes in buyer behaviour have had significant effects on inventory for some businesses, particularly as global supply chains have endured some disruptions.

Demand for books and literature has increased by 16%; home decor has had a 7% boost, and fashion has gone up by 5%. Self-isolation has certainly fuelled a trend for home entertainment and improvement. Businesses can optimise sales by creating product bundles or discounting supplementary stock. Diversifying product offerings has also allowed companies to tap into markets that they previously wouldn't have ventured into.

Shipping delays

Even big players like Amazon experienced a lag in delivery times. This was due to restrictions on inventory supplies and increased demand from online shoppers.

E-commerce order volume has increased by 50%, causing disruptions to supply chains. While more sales are always great news, retailers are taking approximately 1.5 days longer to fulfil orders. This can be attributed to closed factories, limited transportation channels, and social distancing. Bulky items like furniture and big household appliances are experiencing even longer delays – possibly due to setbacks in manufacture as a result of global lockdowns.

While there's no denying that international e-commerce has not been without its obstacles during this period, it's certainly encouraging to see that many businesses have continued to thrive and discovered innovative ways to connect with and serve their customers. As lockdown in certain countries eases and consumer confidence bounces back, it is undoubtedly the organisations that have prepared their online and logistics strategies that will weather the storm.

To find out more about our international shipping service, get in touch with the team here at Asendia.