COVID-19: The Retail eCommerce Picture & What You Can Do6 min read

Sitting at my home desk, I’ve never seen business conditions change as rapidly as they have now. And they continue to change. Even as you read this article.

These are abnormal circumstances where “social distancing,” “self-quarantine,” and “lockdown” are words we hear more often than a pleasant “good morning” or “good day.”

In a matter of weeks, the Coronavirus outbreak has swept across the globe and dramatically shifted the way we live our lives. 

And the online retail industry hasn’t gone unscathed. 

While the outbreak has led many retailers to close their stores temporarily, others have scrambled to deal with the surge in demand. This, in turn, has put a strain on the supply chain and last-mile side of eCommerce retail.

Read on for a bird’s-eye view of the current situation within retail and shipping, its impact on business, and strategies to deal with it.

What’s Happening in the eCommerce World?

1.Surge in Online Traffic

People are staying at home in response to the Coronavirus crisis, and they are doing nearly all their essential shopping online. This has resulted in online sales for essential items zooming 52% compared to the same period last year, and retailers supplying essential goods like groceries and medical supplies are facing an unprecedented surge in demand. 

In response, Amazon has announced that it will be hiring an additional 100,000 employees to meet the surge in demand and has suspended the shipment of all “non-essential” goods.

2.Discounts & Deliveries

The economy is in shock and customers are cautious about spending money, so, in order to keep the inventory moving and to capture the potential audience-market, businesses are giving huge discounts in the form of free shipping or site-wide sales. Some businesses are even giving out freebies.

3.Return & Exchange Policies

Retailers are bending the rules of their return policies in order to cope with the current situation. While some businesses have stopped receiving returns or are disallowing product exchange for the next couple of weeks, apparently to avoid contamination, others have extended their return periods in order to retain their customer base. 

4.Capping Orders

A large number of people are panic buying and stocking up on supplies. With most workers working remotely and others trying to maintain social distance in warehouses, the situation is putting a strain at the fulfillment end. To handle this situation, many retailers are putting a cap on the orders that one can place.