COVID-19 impact on e-commerce

The unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten supply chains and how businesses operate, all of which add to the COVID-19 impact on e-commerce. Across industries, stores have been shuttered and sales have declined. 

Businesses have tried to weather the storm by pursuing models that could help them mitigate possible damages by the coronavirus pandemic. However, due to social distancing and stay home policies, the COVID-19 impact on e-commerce was an initial spike in sales. With foot traffic significantly declining sales spiked as consumers started going online to buy and have goods delivered to their homes. But that spike did not last. Because ultimately online retailers rely on the same global supply chain. 

Incentive to Buy

With offices closed, events canceled and consumers spending afternoons at home, the incentive to go and buy is proving elusive. This, in addition to the workforce, had shrunk in a wake of offices and businesses being forced to retrench.

The initial boost in online sales had also come with challenges. Particularly in regards to trying to resell returned merchandise and finding workers to help process those returned items. This has caused pressures on retailers to keep up with inventories along with managing staff in the wake of mandatory stay at home orders.

Disruptions Forcing Retailers to Adapt

Shutterstock, the provider of stock photography, footage and music, had to slow down its approval rates for submissions. This as more and more places implement isolation and quarantine measures, including shelter-in-place orders.

The company recently slowed down the approval rate of those uploading images for sale on the site. And the rate at which sellers can upload their images. It has also limited the volume of content contributors can submit weekly due to a reduction in review capacity. 

Despite the challenges, Amazon and other retailers are stepping up their delivery services by prioritizing shipments of household essentials, medical supplies and other priority items. Amazon announced that it has temporality stopped shipment for low priority products and have done that with their retail vendors. Thus, negatively impacting Amazon’s retail vendors who do not service household essentials, medical supplies and other priority items. Retail vendors do however have the option to sell their products on the platform and fulfilling the shipments themselves.

Amazon has also announced it is opening 100,000 new full- and part-time positions in its fulfillment centers across the US to mitigate any manpower shortages.

Ebay has rolled out a stimulus for online retailers using its platform. It has decided to allow eligible eBay sellers to defer fees for 30 days. Additionally, it has removed listing fees until June 30. New sellers opening an eBay store will not be subject to selling fees for three months. According to eBay, this will help them establish their online presence while brick-and-mortar locations stay closed due to movement restrictions.

In addition, it has temporarily extended its returns timelines and adjusted its Money-Back Guarantee policy to help return items during COVID-19. 

The challenge in dealing with COVID-19 stems from uncertainty and a lack of clarity. How long will the pandemic last. And how long can businesses operate under the new norms. These questions continue to test the resolve of businesses.