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Real-time Data of Ecommerce Sales During Coronavirus

Post originally published March 27, 2020. Updated March 31, 2020 for increased image quality.

ecommerce sales during coronavirus

Our second installment of our webinar series on how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting ecommerce sales and online consumer behavior  yielded a tremendous turnout, so thank you to everyone who attended. Below, you will find a summary of the real-time data and insights  that was shared during the presentation. Overall, our dataset shows that ecommerce sales have increased across our retail categories, but these categories saw shifts throughout different periods as the outbreak spread.

For our analysis that has now spanned over a month, we broke our data down into three periods:

  • The Beginning, from February 9 to February 22
  • The Spike Starts, from February 23 to March 7
  • The Outbreak Spreads, from March 8 to March 21

We analyzed the daily data of these time periods for 2019 and 2020 to see any changes in year over year ecommerce sales. The retail categories we considered in our dataset were: Apparel, Home Decor, Tools and Hardware, Food, Gifting, Pet Supply, and Home Furnishing.

This blog provides a comprehensive overview of the data presented in Thursday’s webinar, as well as April’s projected forecast of sales. 

How Has Coronavirus Impacted Online Shopping Behavior

The key metrics our analysts considered was latency and mobile orders. Latency is the time between first website visit and first purchase, captured by our proprietary customer analytics tool, LXRInsights. We also analyzed how consumers start their paths to purchase and from which device they made a purchase.

We found that shoppers are making a purchase more quickly than they had in 2019. Shoppers are also visiting a website fewer times before completing a purchase. This means that consumers are spending less time conducting research and browsing comparisons. 

How has coronavirus outbreak impacted ecommerce retailers and online shopping
Does remote working leave more time for online shopping? NetElixirs real-time data shows more people are shopping online. Image from Pexels.

Our data shows that the percentage of mobile orders increased for all retail categories. All categories except Home Decor and Pet Supplies saw an additional increase during the Outbreak Spreads period of March 8 to March 21. Apparel had the highest percentage of mobile orders, averaging almost 70% throughout the entire course of our study so far.

Retailers are constantly trying to lower the purchase friction for mobile shopping in order to provide a seamless experience. An easier user experience also benefits first time mobile shoppers, many of whom could be older and not familiar with mobile searching and checkout. Throughout our dataset, we have also seen retailers offering “mobile only” promotions to encourage people to shop through their mobile device.

Data on Ecommerce Sales During Coronavirus 

For online sales, our key metrics were average order value (AOV), percentage of orders from new clients, and the number of online orders.

Year over year sales continue to increase for all the retail categories in our dataset except for Apparel. Without events to go to and webcams visible only from the waist up, people have been hesitant to order new clothes. As clothes are subject to seasonality, early spring collections are taking a hit. The New York Times reports luxury fashion shows are at risk of a lasting impact.

It should come as no surprise that the Food retail category has seen a tremendous surge in year over year sales, increasing nearly 200% from 2019. Gifting, which includes greeting cards and gift baskets, has seen a decent  increase during the Outbreak Spreads period from March 8 to March 21. People are still trying to keep in touch in different and virtual forms amid social distancing. 

The year over year increase in the number of orders was prominent during the second period of the Spike Starts from February 23 to March 7 and the Outbreak Spreads period from March 8 to March 21 for Home Decor, Pet Supplies, and Hardware and Tools.

The percentage of new shoppers has increased across all retail categories. The age group with the biggest uptick in growth? People aged 18-24, followed by the 55-64 age group. 

Our analysts were able to establish a correlation between the increase in the percentage of new daily online orders for retailers in our dataset who had to close the doors of their brick and mortar stores. Shoppers are spending more per purchase occasion, according to our dataset. Basket sizes for food and home furnishings was higher in the time period of the Outbreak Spreading. 

Media and Ad Coverage Throughout the Coronavirus Outbreak

In terms of Google ads investments, our analysts looked at the year over year increase in media spend and the competitive intensity of CPC.

The Cost Per Click (CPC) is down for most retail categories within our dataset, including Apparel, Food, Home Decor, and Pet Supplies. Food specifically has seen a reduction of 40% for CPC. The decrease in CPC could be either because fewer companies are competing per keyword or because a higher percentage of searches are happening from mobile devices. On average, mobile CPCs are 10-15% less expensive for most categories than desktop CPCs. 

The increase in online demand and new online shoppers, coupled with lower CPCs presents an opportunity for businesses within the Food, Home Furnishing, Home Decor, Pet Supplies, and Hardware and Tools categories to gain a representative share on Google search. Marketers, however, should be careful to not appear opportunistic during this time and launch a considerate and sympathetic campaign.

How Coronavirus Will Continue to Impact Ecommerce Sales

Based on our data of the month of March, we present the following forecasts for the month of April:

Ecommerce sales during coronavirus estimated forecast based on data from March
NetElixir forecasts year over year growth throughout the month of April, based on the data we collected from March.

Shoppers are adapting to the new normal. Remote working and learning, as well as social distancing, has left more people in their homes. This could encourage more online shopping. However, as fear and panic subside, people may not shop as drastically as before.

Our analysts project a continued increase in online orders for Home Furnishing, Home Decor, and Hardware and Tools throughout April. Apparel could see minimal, but substantial year over year growth in sales. Food, Gifting, and Pet Supplies will continue to see growth, but not as dramatically as in March when the outbreak took off.

Our forecast is an estimate. Presumptions are based on the outbreak continuing into April, leaving more people homebound. We assume people will adapt to a new normal routine and habits.

The outset of the pandemic saw people panic buying within the first two weeks. By the third week of our compiled data, the AOV increased, but the number of items in the cart was stabilizing. This means people were not stockpiling large quantities, but that they were buying more expensive items. As shoppers adapt to the new normal, most retail categories are experiencing a double digit percentage in year over year online sales growth. 

NetElixir encourages marketers to stay nimble, as the situation changes by the hour. Focus on your existing customers by keeping tabs on their shopping behavior and continue to take care of your community.

Additional Insights

While we have covered an extensive dataset, it is by no means exhaustive. If you are interested in discussing specific insights for your category, please email us at shareinsights@netelixir.com

We will continue to monitor the online shopping behavior of consumers and ecommerce sales during the coronavirus outbreak. Get the real data on the covid-19 impact by registering for our third installment of our coronavirus updates series. This webinar will air Thursday, April 9 at 2 PM ET. Register for our live webinar on coronavirus updates.

Our data is pulled from real-time customer paths to purchase during the period of outbreak, providing a gauge of immediate consumer behavior. NetElixir knows that one insight can change everything. All our insights are powered by LXRInsights, our proprietary analytics tool that tracks real-time data. You can request your free demo of our tool here.

You can catch up on our prior webinars covering shopping behavior and ecommerce sales during the coronavirus outbreak from March 11 and 26 here.

For further reading, you can see our prior retail analytics updates on retail ecommerce and online shopping behavior: