Five weeks in, the impact of COVID-19 has already had a major impact on our buying habits as brands shift to online sales. Supermarket supply chains have largely recovered after initial panic buying and consumers have moved on – purchasing items to ease the burden of the lockdown.
At TAN, we reacted quickly, helping clients to repurpose campaigns that had a bricks and mortar focus by changing CTAs to e-commerce channels as retailers were forced to close their doors.
Unsurprisingly, online sales are booming with many dipping their toe in the water for the first time – non-food sales increased 18.8% during March compared to 2.5% last year. MediaCom’s Lockdown Diaries reported that there are:
“…many new shoppers online… March was a record month for online penetration. Annual penetration increased by 0.5%, an incremental 140,000 households. New online shoppers are older, have lower incomes and are more regional – demonstrating a broadening of appeal.”
What’s hot right now
While some retailers without an online presence are facing a challenging time, others are experiencing a mini boom. The latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers, revealed sectors that have experienced a big bounce as consumers adapt to the lockdown:
Beauty – 36%+
Electricals – 40%+
Garden – 90%+
Another interesting finding, and something that mirrors our own experience of pivoting campaigns towards online channels, is that:
“…multichannel retailers outperformed their online only counterparts for the first time since April 2019”.
As traditional retailers throw additional resources at their online channels it’s been interesting to see how brands have adapted to their high street doors being closed. Dixons Carphone’s shares jumped this week after the group revealed that UK and ROI online sales increased 166% in the five weeks to April 25th as consumers purchased laptops and other tech for lockdown living.
Online only brands were naturally already set up for the situation we now find ourselves in. Whilst fashion has been one of the hardest hit sectors, Boohoo has reported a year-on-year rise in sales during April. A Boohoo spokesperson told the BBC:
“Sales of tops have gone up in particular, with everyone wanting to look smart on Zoom calls.”
Bring on the booze
Other notable success stories include those selling alcohol – the sector was up 22% in March (Kantar) with Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant, Berry Bros. & Rudd having to temporally stop taking online orders after its biggest day of digital sales. If a 300-year-old business can adapt, then hopefully other more traditional retailers can follow suit.
Preparing for reopening
Obviously not every business can transition to pure online sales. Larger purchases, such as buying a new car or home, require multiple touch points usually ending with a physical viewing in person.
Let’s look at a car purchase journey. Detailed Google research conducted over a period of months on one user revealed that she had over 900 digital engagements before committing to the purchase.
With that in mind, assuming lockdown restrictions are eased, even over a period of months, now is the time to build awareness in the upper funnel as consumers spend more time online ahead of physical visits. Doing the brand and prospecting work now will ensure you are ahead of the game when reopening commences.