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18 March 2020 | Posted by laura.blanco

How the COVID-19 health crisis is affecting eCommerce

COVID-19, which is spreading around the world like a pandemic, is affecting us all, people and companies alike, and that includes eCommerce.

Most online businesses have been affected by a drop in traffic and demand of between 20% and 40% (according to estimates by Etailers Ecommerce among its customers), but while there are some sectors where demand has dropped dramatically (such as fashion, footwear and accessories, for example), others have seen their sales increase greatly, such as basic necessities in particular food and hygiene products, which have risen by an average of 12.5% compared to the same dates last year (according to the UNO logistics and transport association, which groups together 350 distribution companies), parapharmacy products, products for doing sports at home, or products for children’s entertainment, among others.

There are even companies like Amazon that announced last Monday that they plan to hire about 100,000 warehouse and home-delivery employees in the US to cope with the increase in orders, due to the fact that many consumers are choosing to shop online during the coronavirus outbreak (as well as other supermarket chains selling online in the North American market).

The impact also depends to a large extent on the business model. While B2C has become more of an alternative to physical stores than ever before, many B2B businesses have suffered a complete halt in their orders, due to the almost total shutdown of retail, with the exception of those working in basic necessities. Others, such as home catering, have become an alternative in the face of the total closure of most restaurant activity.

The big challenge for many at the moment is logistics, many online stores are already having problems with stock, delays in picking orders due to the health protection measures they have had to apply in their warehouses, as well as problems affecting product delivery in some areas (not to mention towns such as Igualada, which is almost completely locked down), so many stores have put up messages that delivery times might take longer than normal.

Home delivery companies are a key part of eCommerce logistics, but they too have had to adapt their delivery methods to protect themselves against this pandemic, and protection measures have been implemented in many companies, as well as changes such as leaving the product at the door, avoiding physical contact with the customer or collecting a signature. They are also implementing measures such as daily disinfection and a cleaning process for home delivery vehicles.

We all have to adapt to this new situation and hope it ends as soon as possible. What is certain is that online stores have become more important than ever before, because physical stores that do not sell basic necessities have had to close up shop for the time being.

Santiago Sánchez Devesa – Director of Ebusiness Programmes

La Salle - Ramon Llull University

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