The Covid19 eCommerce Industry Town Hall

Your central resource for what’s happening in ecommerce during Covid19, and how it applies to your business. 

This Week’s Recap (April 17, 2020)

Here’s a summary of what’s happening in eCommerce related to Covid19 for the week of April 17th, 2020. 

  1. Facebook ad performance is up
  2. There is growth in non essential areas of ecommerce
  3. Visitors are assuming ecommerce stores can’t fulfill orders
  4. Proactive communciation with fulfillment partners is key
  5. The government relief money has run out, but you should still apply. 

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The eCommerce Town Hall Resource Library

We’ll summarize the key resources over time that you need to be aware of as the Covid19 crisis evolves. 

Resources on how to deal with Shipping & Fulfillment issues due to Covid-19 like shipping backlogs and delays, government regulations, etc.

  • Work Closely with Fulfillment Partners – Amazon de-prioritized fulfillment of non essentials in late March. While some 3PLs have followed suit, most are working to keep shipping stable. If you fulfill your own products, ensure your warehouse meets state requirements. If you use a 3PL, proactively communicate with them to understand their status week to week and rely that in your communication to customers. Also, if you expect a spike in orders (medical etc.), notify them in advance as they might be operating at capacity. (source: Klaviyo)

Resources on how to deal with Marketing & Advertising issues due to Covid-19 like decrease in traffic, advertising cost, retargeting, etc.

  • Facebook Ad Performance UP (4/7/20) – The middle of March was a bloodbath for most categories, but as of early April vs the first week of March the metrics are very strong: revenue is up 56%, spend is up 19%, ROAS is up 27%, CPM is down 13%, CPC is down 18%, and CTR is up 8%. The general theory here is (a) massive retailers have pulled budget, dropping ad costs (b) people are browsing more since they’re stuck at home (c) and they’re still buying across many categories. (source: common thread collective). 
  • Visitors Assume eCommerce Stores Closed – Many ecommerce stores are being affected, and some are even shutting down temporarily and not able to ship orders. We’re seeing this cause much uncertainty in ecommerce buyers, even if stores already have notifications of “not shutdown / no shipping delays”. It’s best practice to (1) have prominent banner sitewide (2) clarify this on product pages and checkout (3) and have your team live on live chat to reassure visitors you’re still shipping as of today. (source: HelpFlow post)

Paying attention to the overall context of what’s happening will help you make the right strategic moves to navigate through this time, and even come out stronger. 

  • Growth / Decline of Various Categories (3/31/20) – Not only has the economy shifted a ton, but buying habits have too. Yes, people are buying a lot of toilet paper and canned food… but they’re also buying a lot more items while they’re stuck at home and feeling uncertain about the future. Near essential categories like work from home equipment is crushing (+172%), but so are non essentials like home fitness products (+307%) and even in home sporting goods (ex: PingPong +89%). While you would assume beauty and fashion would be getting crushed right now, focused beauty products like hair coloring are starting to spike significantly (+115%).  And of course there are obvious categories that have declined such as event supplies (-55%) and camping (-39%). The takeaway? People aren’t just buying essentials and sharp brands are repositioning their products to fit the current times. (source: Stackline

Resources on business strategies that you can use on special cases like the Covid-19 — covers Financial, Growth and Operational strategies.

  • Gov’t Relief Funds Delayed / Exhausted (4/16/20) –  In March, the US launched the PPP program to provide essentially free money to pay employees / rent for 2 months. Unfortunately, many banks have been significantly delayed in providing these funds due to compliance and technical issues and the funds were exhausted as of April 16th. The media expects additional funds to be approved by the government quickly, but as of now the emergency funding many businesses need have not been received. Based on what we’re seeing, the best option is (a) work with your personal banker if you have one (b) apply from multiple sources so you can get approved and funded by one (c) apply quickly so you’re in line as the funds are replenished. (source: WSJ)
  • Big Changes in Sick Leave Req / Layoffs (4/1/20) – At the onset of the pandemic, the US government passed the Families First Act. This is intended to support workers with additional paid sick leave due to corona virus. But with the application to all businesses under 500 employees, the up to 10 weeks of paid sick leave effective April 1st caused many businesses to proactive implement layoffs and consider bringing employees back rather than waiting it out (source: DOL.gov, CNBC)