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How COVID-19 Will Impact the Holiday Shopping Season and How Retailers Can Prepare

By:
RAKUTEN SUPER LOGISTICS
July 16, 2020

The novel coronavirus has caused significant disruption to the eCommerce world. When WHO declared it a pandemic, panic struck, and consumers responded by panic buying. They stocked up as much as they could.

Consumers mainly bought medical supplies, essential household itemsmostly food and toilet papers, hand sanitizers, and many others. With the increased demand for items, online stores and retailers were left sweating on how to keep up with these demands.

There are no conclusive findings on coronavirus still, but health experts believe that the virus can only survive on physical surfaces for around three hours to 72 hours. This implies that COVID-19 cannot survive on most packages from the time they're packed to the time they're delivered to the buyer.

Unfavorable shipping conditions would also make it difficult for the virus to survive, and this partly explains the logic behind the influx in online purchases during the pandemic.

THE POSSIBLE IMPACTS OF COVID-19 ON THE HOLIDAY RETAIL SEASON

The retail sales during the holiday season will be more crucial than ever before to retailers. Ideally, this is the time they'll be forced into trying to recover most of the losses incurred due to the restrictions that were imposed during the pandemic.

To some extent, it is tricky to predict whether consumers will purchase more during this season. One thing that's for sure, however, is that the retailers will be faced with new pressures adapting to the new shopping habits that will come up because of the pandemic.

CONSUMERS COULD PERSIST ON THE SHOPPING PREFERENCES DEVELOPED DURING THE PANDEMIC

Consumer behaviors are sometimes tricky to predict, but when referencing consumer psychology, one can argue that it is highly probable that consumers will stick to the new habits developed during the pandemic.

Here are two factors that could 'highly' contribute to this.

  • Fear for health. According to latest studies, shoppers are more fearful for their health. The response to this is anxiety and phobia towards gatherings or social places because of fear of contracting the virus. Due to this, many consumers would prefer ordering for items online from retail stores and wait for them to be delivered to their homes or places of work to avoid constant movement and contact with other people.
  • Convenience. Since the pandemic, consumers have enjoyed an extended spell of comfort since they don't have to move to physical stores anymore. Businesses that adopted new means of delivering products to consumers during the pandemic may not have suffered much. Since consumers in most cases prefer convenience, they're highly likely to incline more to have the items delivered to their preferred physical locations.

THE EXPECTATIONS FOR HOLIDAY ECOMMERCE SALES

Now, while numerous aspects in regards to consumer behaviors will change post the pandemic, there are a few shopper expectations that were visible before the COVID-19 outbreak. It is less likely for them to change.

According to a recent survey on shopping behaviors and the expectations in the last quarter of 2019, most shoppers were planning to shop more during the holiday season as it has been the norm. It is highly likely that these statistics will still be relevant post the pandemic.

It makes more sense to expect that the higher shopping expectations that shoppers usually express during the holiday seasons will be akin to what we're going to witness when stores reopen as we usher in the holiday season. Now, if these assumptions are correct, the only concern remains whether online retailers are equipped to handle this likely increase in sales volume.

HOW ONLINE RETAILERS CAN HANDLE SALES VOLUME DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON POST CORONAVIRUS

To sufficiently manage the likely increases in the sales volume, retailers must focus on consumer satisfaction. Here are two primary ways that stores can achieve this;

  • Promptness. Promptness in the fulfillment of orders will be a significant factor in the success of retail stores as we get into the holiday season. Shoppers are more likely to stick to having products delivered directly to them or prefer Buy Online Pick at Curb fulfillment options. Because of this, retailers must come up with creative ways of fulfilling these varied user needs.
  • User Awareness. Customers are more likely to pay more attention to hygiene during this season. This isn't a new trend either as most shoppers generally prefer shopping from 'cleaner' stores. To avoid impacting user experience negatively, retailers must also work on their presentations. It would help in demonstrating to customers that you care for them and build trust.

MAINTAIN HIGHER USER SATISFACTION POST COVID-19

An increase in demand is always a piece of good news for retailers. If you don't have a contingency plan, however, it may backfire on you. As a retailer, your primary focus should always be to maintain higher customer satisfaction. One of the best ways of achieving this is ensuring that you're prompt in fulfilling orders.

With increased demand, achieving this can be a backbreaking tussle for most small stores. There's always a solution, though, and your best way moving forward would be to partner with a leading 3PL provider to give you a helping hand. Be ahead of your competitors by partnering with a leading 3PL like Rakuten Super Logistics. Contact us today for a quote on fulfillment services.

Want to learn more tips for preparing for the holiday retail season? Download the free eBook, "Success Tips for Your Holiday Ecommerce Season".