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How COVID-19 is impacting the ecommerce market

With the lockdown, we’re likely to see a huge shift to online shopping in many retail sectors.

With a pandemic ongoing, it's interesting to look at how customer’s online shopping behaviour has been affected so far.

We’re in an unprecedented situation, one which will continue to develop in the coming weeks and months. We’ve looked at client data from March so far, comparing our stats to averages for the same period in 2019.

Cart abandonment

Normally, cart abandonment rates are affected by factors like the length and complexity checkout process, price considerations and typical customer research patterns.

Seasonal buying trends and sales can also affect abandonment. For example, abandonment rates drop during big online sales events like Black Friday as shoppers take advantage of time-limited promotions.

Lower abandonment numbers can suggest increased demand for certain products or services, and we can see that in some sectors at the moment.

For example, insurance abandonment rates are down by 11% on last year, and those for mobile providers 2%.

In other sectors, we know that demand is higher than usual, but abandonment rates are also on the rise.

Grocery is one very obvious example. Google trends data on Ocado shows the recent surge in demand for this sector as people look for home delivery.

At the moment, we’re seeing higher than usual abandonment rates in the grocery sector, up almost 8% on 2019.

This may be down to customers having problems finding some items as many people stockpile goods, as well as website performance suffering under unusual levels of traffic.

AOV by sector

Our data on average order values (AOV) by sector, show that consumers seem to be spending more than usual in several areas. Grocery, pharmaceutical and general retail order values are higher than usual, as people buy the products they need online. Travel is down, as you would expect, while average insurance order values are up on 2019.

In summary

With the majority of retailers closing stores temporarily, we’re likely to see a huge shift to online shopping in many retail sectors.

Retailers face many different challenges at this time. Some may see website visitor numbers decline, so it becomes more important to make the most of the traffic that does come in, working harder than ever to increase conversion rates.

Other sectors face the challenge of adapting to increased customer demand, trying to maintain stock levels and delivery performance in difficult times.

Graham Charlton is editor-in-chief at SaleCycle

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