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How Coronavirus is Affecting Ecommerce: Stats

How Coronavirus is Affecting Ecommerce: Stats


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With the COVID 19 pandemic ongoing in 2021, we look at how online shopping behaviour has been affected, with a look at some of our data and online shopping stats.

It’s an unprecedented situation, and one which will continue to change in the coming weeks and months and perhaps even years.

Our data from the 2021 Ecommerce Report looks at cart abandonment rates and other metrics across several different sectors. We look at 12 month statistics from 2020 and the first 2 months of 2021. Our pandemic data allows us to create a picture of ecommerce and look at online customer behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cart Abandonment Rates

In usual circumstances, abandonment rates are affected by factors like the length of checkout process, price of products and how long customers research purchases.

Other factors such as seasonal trends and sales and busiest retail months online can affect abandonment. For example, abandonment rates often fall during events like 11.11 and Black Friday sales as shoppers are keen to take advantage of promotions.

Lower abandonment rates can reflect increased demand for certain products or services. For example, abandonment rates in the Gardening and DIY sector are down 10% while Sports and Outdoor is down 9%. 

Abandonment Rates by Sector

In other sectors, we know that demand is up, and abandonment rates were higher than usual in March 2020. However, a year on in March 2021 and we can see that abandonment rates are lower by around 9%. 

Take grocery for example. Ocado, a well-known online grocery brand, illustrates the demand for this sector as people look for home delivery.

However, we saw higher abandonment rates in the grocery sector, almost 8% more than usual in March 2020, when the pandemic was becoming more widespread. 

This may have been due to the difficulty customers have in finding some items as people panic buy, as well as website performance under unprecedented levels of traffic.

In March 2021, however, we noticed that grocery abandonment rates have decreased by over 20%. As online shoppers become used to shopping online and experiencing the new normal abandonments have improved. We can also assume that website traffic has slowed down with shoppers going to physical stores as restrictions began to ease.

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Average Order Values by Sector

Looking at average order values (AOV) by sector, we can see that consumers seem to be spending more than usual.

The total average order value in the ecommerce sectors selected we can see the AOV has increased by 75% as online shoppers take to digital transactions.

So we see grocery, sports and outdoor and general retail AOVs being much higher as people buy the products they need in the current situation.

Average Order Value by Sector

Conversions and Sales Uplift by Sector

We’ve also pulled some stats on specific sectors to show the impact of COVID-19 on certain types of site. Here we look at ecommerce trends in 3 different segments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abandonment rates in all 3 segments have improved, with groceries abandonment statistics decreasing significantly. 

Grocery sites are an obvious area to look for an impact, and we can see increases in AOVs and online sales too. We can also see a dramatic increase in AOVs in the Sports and Outdoor sector at 196%. 

Grocery Sector Stats

Looking at sports and outdoor sites, we can see a big impact on average order values, which has increased almost 300% during the pandemic. We can also see that abandonments have also decreased due to the strong buying intent and necessity. 

Sports and Outdoor Sector Stats

Pharmaceuticals is a sector that has already seen an impact from people spending more on vitamins and health products.

It’s a sector that traditionally picks up in January and around winter but demand has obviously increased given the nature of the pandemic.

Pharmaceutical Stats

In Summary

With major retailers like John Lewis, Selfridges, Schuh and more closing stores temporarily, we’re likely to see a huge shift to online shopping in many retail sectors and perhaps an increase in conversion rate optimisation services. Although the government has produced an exit roadmap, the shopping experience and anxiety of the virus will still affect stores opening. 

Retailers will face different challenges at this time. Some may see reduced traffic, so it can be about making the most of the traffic that comes in, and working hard to increase conversion rates. Of course, there are many tactics brands can use to increase their conversion rates on mobile and desktop, such as optimising their ecommerce mobile form design or sending post purchase emails to retain their customers.

We also understand that some sectors are thriving and some are not, whatever side of this the site is experiencing, converting browsers into buyers is absolutely key.

SaleCycle data finds 43.8% of users will view website products and 14.5% will add items to their cart, suggesting that there is clear buying intent. It’s important to tempt users back, so sending browse abandonment emails to your users could be the push your customers need. We’ve created a complete browse abandonment email marketing strategy with examples to help.

Other sectors will need to adapt to increased customer demand, and try to maintain stock and delivery performance in difficult times.

Reviewed by Brad Ward
Written by Graham Charlton
— Updated on 24/03/2021


2022 Ecommerce Stats & Trends Report

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2022 Ecommerce Stats & Trends Report

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Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.