= Just a little reminder before beginning: Health always comes first, so please stay indoors if possible and protect yourself. =

What is the impact of coronavirus on retail categories & products?

Statista reported the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on consumer spending in the United States as of March 2020, by retail category.
Survey time period: March 16 to 17, 2020
1,042 respondents

Regarding expected changes to consumer spending due to the coronavirus, consumers intended to increase their spending on groceries and non-food products for children. Respondents stated that they expected to decrease their spending for almost every other product category. Spending on out of home entertainment and fashion products was expected to be reduced the most in that period.

impact of coronavirus on retail

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1105623/coronavirus-expected-changes-to-consumer-spending-by-product-category-us/

Stackline reviewed e-commerce sales across the U.S. and compiled a list of the Top 100 Gaining and Top 100 Declining categories in March.

During this uncertain time, consumer shopping behavior has shifted to meet the needs of more time spent at home for the whole family. 

You may click on the image below to see it bigger.

Source: https://www.stackline.com/news/top-100-gaining-top-100-declining-e-commerce-categories-march-2020

What is the effect of coronavirus on website traffic?

Neil Patel reported huge drops in organic traffic for most industries they are tracking. 

Based on their data, clear winners are media, finance, food and healthcare websites. Travel websites seem to be seriously affected.

Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/coronavirus/

Alexa is a good source to track the impact of Coronavirus on website traffic.

The chart below represents the Alexa Rank (traffic) of freshdirect.com in March – April 2020. It is clear that the site gained significant additional traffic in this period.
(Source: https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/freshdirect.com#section_traffic )
Similar websites such as shoprite.com have similar charts.

As of October 31th, the rank of freshdirect.com is decreasing but it is still above the pre-coronavirus period.

On the other hand, websites like asos.com lost Alexa Rank (traffic) in March – April 2020.
(Source: https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/asos.com#section_traffic )
These results are consistent with the findings on other researches I mentioned above.

As of October 31th, the rank of asos.com is stable. It is still below pre-coronavirus period.

Similarweb is also a good source of tracking website traffic.

You can clearly observe the spike in website traffic of freshdirect.com in April 2020.

Source: https://www.similarweb.com/website/freshdirect.com/#overview

What is the effect of coronavirus on sales and conversion?

Neil Patel states that there is an increase in website conversion only for food, healthcare, pharma and media sectors. Websites in other sectors see a decline in website conversion.

Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/coronavirus/

Statista surveyed the impact of coronavirus on e-commerce business in March 2020. According to the survey of 304 U.S. retailers, only eight percent of respondents believed that e-commerce sales would increase significantly due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

It is obvious that these figures will vary according to businesses in different retail categories.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104197/us-coronavirus-e-retail-impact-estimate/

Amazon Tripled 2019 Q3 Net Income in 2020 Q3

Amazon benefits significantly from the boost in ecommerce. Net income of Amazon was 2.1 billion dollars in 2019 Q3 and it is declared as 6.3 billion dollars in 2020 Q3.

Note that this number does not include Prime Day sales, as this net income figure represents a 3 month period ended September 30, 2020.

Digital Commerce 360 estimates Amazon’s sales on Prime Day hit $10.40 billion globally over the two-day period spanning Oct. 13 and Oct. 14, up from $7.16 billion during the 48-hour event in July 2019.

Source: https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/article/amazon-prime-day-sales/

You can still benefit as only 6% of consumers completed their holiday shopping (as of October 2020)

Based on a survey, Digital Commerce 360 stated in an article (as of October 30th, 2020) that 26% of consumers surveyed had started but not finished their holiday shopping and 6% had completed it. Also, 57% of consumers plan to shop online more this year and spend about $80 more overall (online and offline) than in 2019.

Coronavirus Impact on Digital Marketing

Coronavirus news affect the people’s perspective significantly.

* Priorities have shifted. Being comfortable at home, indoor hobbies gained importance.

* Consumers are more budget-conscious as some of them lost their income to some extent, and some of them act cautiously seeing those people.

* Consumers turned to ecommerce but so did the brands, significantly increasing the competition.

* As brands shift their plans to online, users encounter with hundreds of messages. Even before coronavirus news, people were seeing hundreds of messages on an average day and were recalling almost none of them. Coronavirus news make people even more distracted.

For this reason,

* You should reevaluate your products and services and if possible you should try to focus on the aspects improving the quality of indoor life. You may highlight certain products, or these features.

* You should focus on competititve pricing (unless there is high demand for your products and there is little competition.)

* Increased online competition may diminish your results and conversion perspective should be a priority.

* You should focus on tailored communication. People pay less attention to marketing messages. During this period adapting Divide & Conquer mentality becomes inevitable. If you provide general messages to wide audiences, your marketing message will probably be ignored. You may read more about Divide & Conquer Mentality by clicking this link.

SEO During Coronavirus Period

As the SEO projects usually produce results in 3 to 12 months, there is no reason to pause SEO campaigns during Coronavirus period.

If some of your products and services are suitable for using at home or you observe an increased demand for certain products and services, consider creating new categories for them.

If it is relevant, it is also a good idea to create special landing pages, highlighting certain aspects to match the target segment’s perspective.

You may consider adding adding keywords such as “at home, indoors” to your target keywords.

Even if you business is not directly affected by coronavirus news, it is still a good idea to work on your SEO project as this may help to boost your performance after coronavirus period. You may read more about 2020 SEO Strategies here: http://korayodabasi.com/seo-strategies/

Digital Ads During Coronavirus Period

As the consumers encounter with hundreds of messages every day, it is a good idea to communicate tailored messages with segmented audiences to get their attention.

You may create new categories for certain products or create special landing pages for certain target audiences.

Many brands shift their plans to online and ecommerce stores are more aggresive in their marketing campaigns, increasing the competition. Many digital marketers observe an increase in click prices.

There may be a need to increase your budget but the focus should be on conversion. As the branded campaigns and remarketing campaigns (especially member/customer lists) usually generate the best conversion, you should make sure that those campaigns have enough budget.

Food, grocery, cleaning products, masks, disinfectants, healtcare products, supplements, vitamins, baby products, products to use at home (cooking, fitness, sports, entertaintment, books, games, hobby, etc.)

It is a good idea to increase digital ads budget. In addition to focusing on your fans and people coming to your website (remarketing), you should also reach out to new audiences in order to benefit from increased demand. Monitor your conversion and if you really benefit from this demand, you may increase your budget even more.

Ecommerce (fashion, furniture, outdoor products, automotive products, consumer electronics, etc.)

As consumers stay at home, this positively effects the macro ecommerce sales volume, but this is not reflected in every sector. Products such as these often see a balanced demand. The conversion is usually lower than pre-coronavirus period. Consumers shift their budget to the products in the first category above, diminishing the demand for these products. You may focus on branded and remarketing campaigns. If you are not satisfied with the result, check out these Quick Fix Strategies for Google Ads and Facebook Ads.

Cafe & restaurants, travel companies, hotels, out of home entertaintment, conventions, local shops, retail (without ecommerce)

Your business may be closed or you may be seeing extremely low demand. In this case, you may focus only on branded campaigns in order to communicate with the people searching your brand. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also communicate with your fans and people visiting your website (remarketing). You may try to keep the audience alive for post-coronavirus period. You may focus on “pay now, benefit later” type of campaigns to generate some cash flow, but as people are distracted, the benefit may be limited.

Social Media During Coronavirus Period

You may post on social media during coronavirus period, but the tone of your content will be important. It is not a good idea to act like there is nothing happening in the world and post like you were always posting before. Instead of this, depending on your industry, you may focus on the perspective of your audience and you may adjust your content accordingly.

You may give importance to indoor aspect and highlight relevant aspects of your products, if possible. As people are overwhelmed by coronavirus news, you may give priority to content and visuals that will uplift the mood of the users.

Feel free to share your comments.


Koray Odabasi is the author of Digital Marketing Strategies Book.

Selected as one of the “Best Digital Marketing & SEO Books of All Time” by Book Authority, you may read the first chapter here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1793365865

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