Ronn Torossian, CEO & Founder, 5WPR
Brands selling all their staples online before the current pandemic may not be surprised, but many others who only utilized online as a convenience to consumers are seeing a huge uptick in sales. Data technology platform PriceSpider reports it’s already seen an 86% hike in online sales for beauty and health products. This will likely climb higher as more cities and states are ordering the closure of salons.
What does it mean for brands after the pandemic is over? PriceSpider believes the paradigm will have shifted so that more consumers will continue to shop online, especially for food and beverage as well as consumer goods.
What’s also changed is what some consumers are stockpiling. A recent survey by Nielsen revealed that consumers aren’t just stockpiling things they use daily, but also brands with longer shelf lives. Sales of oat milk, for example, were up 30%. Not surprisingly, PriceSpider said they recently noticed an 80% rise in traffic on food and beverage sites.
And while shopping malls had already been witnessing declines in traffic before COVID-19, more brick and mortar merchants, including supermarkets, are feeling the digital shift in consumer focus. Pleas for social distancing are being blamed for the change and experts believe the exodus will only continue to increase.
Supply and Demand
Brands need to be more alert about their supply chains so they have inventory in stock to meet demand. This applies to both online and in-store merchants. Many shoppers who went online when the pandemic was declared resorted to visiting local merchants when they discovered that some online essentials were sold out and unavailable.
Due to the short supply of some products, today’s consumer is less likely to be picky about where they make their purchase of needed items. Because of this, marketers must be sure that consumers can find what they’re carrying easily and quickly. When they go online, consumers also need to know if the products are in stock.
Brick and mortar stores not only need to do the same but those with multiple locations need to indicate where the desired products are available. In both online and in-person sales, it’s also important that consumers know if there are any limitations on the quantities they may purchase.
Make purchasing as seamless as possible. What some merchants are reporting is difficulty in quickly adjusting reports of their inventory. Attention should be given to this as heightened anxiety will only add to consumer frustration if they discover that what they found in stock and wanted to order is no longer available.
This is particularly important for physical locations to minimize visits by consumers who drive to a location only to discover that the items they wanted are no longer in stock. Encouraging online sales with local pickup will help avoid this. Another is to have a program that alerts the consumer of the change in inventory.
Consider asking consumers who go online to order or check out inventory if they’d like to be notified when certain products are available. If it’s a new prospect, the brand will have their contact information for future communication, and existing customers will appreciate the consideration.