There is no doubting that COVID-19 is a crisis. But read our CEO & Founder Luigi Matrone’s article to find out why he is adamant that the global quarantine is also a remarkable Digital Commerce opportunity that brands have to grasp.
Regardless of whether you live or work in one of the countries most affected by the outbreak or not, this past month has been a rollercoaster for all of us.
But I don’t want to dwell on COVID-19: I want to talk about business opportunities.
And to give CEOs and senior decision-makers in your organisation the chance to speak to us about how you and your company can grasp this extraordinary opportunity.
Confinement results in exponential rise in online shopping
Every crisis shall pass – and, while this one might be the worst we have faced yet, this too shall pass.
Crises leave behind lasting traces that deeply affect us. This one will do the same. With ⅓ of the global population confined at home, we are all spending more time with our devices. We are relying on them for information, entertainment – and for our shopping.
We are – understandably, given the context – seeing huge spikes in certain online shopping categories, most notably FMCG. Online FMCG retail sales have risen by more than 80 percent in France and Italy in the past weeks; more than 60 percent in Spain; and around 45 percent in places farther afield such as Australia. 
We will see huge increases in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Germany and other European nations as they go into various degrees of lockdown and confinement.
And there’s not just a steep rise in the popularity of eCommerce in FMCG, either. Health & Beauty and Electronics are experiencing vast gains, with – between them – a 5 percent rise in user sessions, a 71 percent increase in transactions and CVR (eCommerce Conversion Rate) of 67 percent.
In Asia, there has been a 32 percent increase in online shopping across all markets. 
A catalyst for increasing the long-term popularity of eCommerce
In light of this evidence, I believe this crisis is acting as a catalyst for significantly increasing the importance and popularity of eCommerce as a shopping channel – not just in the short-term but in the long-term too.
Millions of people are experiencing first-hand – possibly for the first time – how quick and easy it is to shop online and procure all their essential goods (like toilet paper, for instance – yes I had to throw that in!).
Researchers say that habits are created within 30 to 60 days. Now, I’m not wishing for a 60-day confinement, but we are certainly going to have to be in confinement for at least 30 days.
During that period, the habit that people are developing now of searching for products online, placing them in the shopping basket, paying for them with a card and conveniently receiving them at their doorsteps will solidify.
While the logistic system is under stress and overloaded (meaning there are often significant delays), the path to purchase takes place online and products magically pop up at our homes – with CPG and FMCG winning big as a result.
Brands must strengthen their digital presence to grasp the opportunity
Now, let’s look forward – and towards the opportunity that lies ahead.
Clearly, it is difficult to say if online sales can offset the loss of offline sales. It is also too early to assess the overall damage from closing borders and limiting international movement of people and goods. In situations like these, companies tend to respond to uncertainty with budget cuts, protecting the bottom-line, employees, production and so forth. These are all sensible moves.
But I would argue – indeed, I am adamant – that now is the time for any business to strengthen its digital presence (or, I should say, accelerate the business transformation – but that’s a broader topic for another time).
Consumers can’t look at your products and experience your brand in-store. But they can find and research your products, experience your brand, and buy what you have to offer online – whether that be via your own eCommerce platform or an eRetailer like Amazon.
What image are you portraying to them? Do you stand out from the competition? Can you make the products you’re placing on the digital shelf irresistible? This matters now more than ever.
You may be looking to cut budgets – but, at this key moment, the right thing to do (the thing you must do!) is to strengthen your digital presence and win in the eCommerce space by maintaining or increasing your online spending.
What does this mean for B2C companies?
If you are a Consumer Goods company selling direct to consumers and/or through online retailers, your digital presence must be impeccable. Every step of the consumer journey should be analysed and scrutinised to ensure consumers can find you, choose your products, and buy them with ease.
Have you identified new untapped opportunities? Have you benchmarked against your competitors? Is your Product eContent providing a high-quality shopping experience and influencing conversions?
And for B2B companies?
If you are a B2B company, it’s likely that you are seeing trade shows being cancelled. Yet, your customers still need your products, whether that’s today, tomorrow or in the future. So how are you going to reach them? Through digital channels.
Yet, this is going to be a new activity for many, and requires proper planning and spotless execution.
Whether it be through webinars, virtual conferences, through digital catalogues, videos or more, there are an unlimited number tools available to help you reach them and convert.
In conclusion – strengthen your digital presence now
Companies that want to emerge successfully from this crisis will have to understand that old approaches to business management won’t work any more.
We are witnessing significant and permanent shifts in consumer behaviours, and the only way you can win again and be successful is by directing investments to the right channels. And that means strengthening your digital presence.
This article was created and written by Luigi Matrone – CEO & Founder of the eBusiness Institute.
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