Let’s be honest COVID-19 global pandemic is the defining event of 2020 and its implications will last well into the decade. In the business world, where things tend to change rapidly, events like this can affect millions of businesses in a blink of an eye, no matter the industry, and only the ones that adapt quickly, are the ones to survive.
As a result, business/product owners and marketers have to examine and understand the consumer’s behavior and how it will progress in the next months/years. As news of COVID-19 spread and as it was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, people responded by stocking up. They bought out medical supplies like hand sanitizer and masks and household essentials like toilet paper and bread. In moments of uncertainty, people tend to think and act with instinct, so stocking up was an initial call for most people for one specific reason, “the crowd mentality”. Seeing other people buying up the shelves and then seeing a scarcity of necessary products validates the decision to stock up. No one wants to be left behind without any resources.
Then, most of the people started working remotely. As a result, they had fewer expenses for the next months, as long as they didn’t have to commute every day for work, and also they were in quarantine and eventually stuck in their homes. Unfortunately, for many people, those were some difficult times, as depression and uncertainty for the future struck at their door. However, stocking up supplies for the next months and working remotely, created a feeling of security for those people. In order to fill up the “gap” of unhappy moments, after a month in quarantine, more and more people started purchasing online products and not only groceries but also clothing, electronic parts, and anything else that could fulfill not only their basic needs but also their psychological needs. Consumer behavior applies to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as long as people managed to fulfill their Basic Needs, they started fulfilling their Psychological Needs. So, even if people got in quarantine they would eventually adapt in this and move forward.
Therefore, COVID-19 has massively accelerated the growth of e-commerce, according to an Adobe report released a few days back. Total online spending in May hit $82.5 billion, up 77% year-over-year. That gave a huge acceleration to the e-commerce marketplace that it would take 4 to 6 years to reach that level, regarding the growth rate that it had until recently. Another highlight from the report is that the e-commerce marketplace jumped $52 billion. That means that this is an opportunity for many to be part of this marketplace, try to understand consumer’s needs, and provide solutions. Due to the pandemic, many consumers had to change their consumer behavior and they tried online purchasing, and eventually, they realized how much less cost and time-efficient it was for them. That doesn’t mean that the retail shops will shrink and eventually fade out, but that means that there is a new purchasing trend and that it probably sees permanent adoption from the consumers. Therefore, businesses should adapt as well in this trend and their marketing strategies will define their success eventually, as long as more and more businesses will show up in the e-commerce marketplace, which means more competition.
In conclusion, the explosion of e-commerce sales is a trend that is here to stay. Millions of customers are changing their purchasing behavior and businesses should adapt to this if they want to survive and eventually keep up with the competition. History has shown us that in extreme times, the ones that adapt quickly are the ones to survive. This is a new era for the business world and we should see this as an opportunity and not as a threat.