As COVID-19 continues to spread, stay-at-home mandates are being enforced on a global scale. In the US, 16 states and counting have enforced shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, keeping nearly one in three Americans within their household walls. As consumers stay in, eCommerce is feeling the impact, which began approximately Feb 18, 2020.
As these lines are written, pure play eCommerce companies are seeing revenue cut by more than half compared to the pre-COVID benchmark period. Other sectors have felt the impact of the pandemic on their bottom-line: Fashion is down 41%, essentials are up 129%, and luxury brands begin to make a slight turnaround from it’s biggest loss yet, at a 31% cut in revenue. By contrast, online sales at general-merchandise retailers, such as Amazon and Walmart, jumped 50% YoY on a single day, March 13.
Beyond the obvious supplies, such as cleaning supplies, disinfectants, water, and toilet paper, we are beginning to see increased demand for sectors that make the stay-at-home and work-from-home lifestyle more comfortable. Let’s take a closer look.
Staying home is changing consumer behavior
An increasing number of companies around the US, and the world, have shifted to remote work. Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon are among the largest to shift to remote workforces, while countless others follow suit. With millions of Americans restricted from leaving home, there is a demand for goods that help the transition from an on-the-go lifestyle to a stay-at-home lifestyle.
Amazon warned consumers that Prime deliveries are delayed and it’s running out of stock of popular household items, such as toilet paper and paper towels, as a result of a "dramatic increase in the rate that people are shopping online." Both Staples and Best Buy have seen a surge in demand across the country for home office supplies, such as keyboards, monitors, and laptops. Costco reported that along with electronics, patio furniture sales increase as people bunker down.
Herman Miller, retailer of office and home furnishings, said it finished the quarter ending in Feb. 29 strong, and “has not experienced any meaningful order cancellation” by clients because of the coronavirus. As more people are confined to their homes, it makes sense that they are choosing to refresh their homes with furniture that makes them feel more comfortable. And speaking of comfort, retailers across the country are reporting a surge in demand for sweatpants.
Aéropostale reported a 23% increase in women’s sweatpants sales, Russell Athletics has seen a double-digit increase in sweatpants searches, and Vuori has seen a 50% spike in online sweatpant sales. While loungewear becomes seemingly more ‘essential,’ ’non-essential’ apparel retailers face significant business strain from the coronavirus. The Frankie Shop, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods have even shut down their eCommerce site until further notice.
Coronavirus creates opportunity
More than 30% of Americans plan to reduce their frequency of eating at restaurants, because of fears of the coronavirus. This creates a unique opportunity for delivery services, and apps like Postmates and Doordash are seeing increase in demand. These food delivery services, along with Grubhub and Uber Eats, are experimenting with non-contact deliveries. Consumers leave digital delivery instructions, such as ‘leave it at the door,’ or ‘meet the customer outside.’
During the week that ended March 13, roughly one-third of 300 US households surveyed used online grocery pickup or delivery services. 40% of those who ordered tried it for the first time, mainly purchasing from Walmart, Whole Foods, and Target. Between March 12 and 14, Amazon Fresh and Instacart sales almost quadrupled, compared with the same period last year. Lastly, Blue Apron, a struggling meal-kit company, saw its stock surge more than 70% last Tuesday, March 17, following spikes in deliveries amid the crisis.
Consumers aren’t just ordering sweatpants and groceries. Overall, eCommerce revenue has risen over 40% since the State of Emergency was declared March 13. Just between March 12 and March 15 alone, the dollar volume of all online orders grew more than a third, compared to the same dates last year.
Creating a lasting impact through superior online experiences
The restrictions that are being imposed to fight the spread of COVID-19 are introducing many consumers to a new way of shopping. Depending on how your website performs, you have the opportunity to gain more traffic and create a lasting impression.
Today’s consumers demand lightning-fast experiences. 70% of consumers say website speed influences their willingness to buy. Amazon calculated that just 1-second added to page loads would cost the company $1.6B a year. If your site isn’t optimized for speed, you’re losing visibility and revenue during a period of opportunity.
Layer0 guarantees sub-500 millisecond median page load for complex eCommerce websites. This is done through a combination of cutting edge tech including portable frontends built for speed, AMP and server-side rendering, and an intelligent CDN that streams and caches dynamic content at the edge so that your site remains 5 seconds ahead of the shopper.
eCommerce revenue has risen over 40% since COVID-19 began keeping people indoors. In this time when more and more shopping is happening online, website speed is critical.
Be the website that is ready to impress consumers with a sub-second experience. These speeds have created enormous business wins for Venus Fashion who sees a 24% boost to conversions on Layer0. 1-800-Flowers is another example. The flowers and gifts giant sees a 50% lift to conversions, and double-digit percentage increases in organic revenue from its instant site on Layer0.
If website speed is a priority for you, schedule a consultative conversation with a site speed expert, and we’ll help you capitalize on this eCommerce opportunity that isn’t going away. Digital is right now, just as it is the future.