eCommerce Corona Effect by Category

Thursday April 9, 2020 | Posted at 2:17 pm | By Paul Dicken
April 9, 2020 @ 2:17 pm

We wrote recently about the turbulent month of March 2020 in ecommerce. With the landscape changing so dramatically we thought it useful to update you on the latest ecommerce figures across the Volo Origin platform, and share some intel on the best performing and worst performing categories at the moment.

As before, we’re using a ‘same set’ of established customers across all categories to track the growth, so that we can better isolate the growth to the corona effect, rather than have the number skewed by new customers coming on board over the last few months.

Week commencing 30th March was a further 3% up on the week of 23rd March, which was itself up 2% on the enormous spike week of 16th March. The first week in April was almost double the same week in 2019, with a 97% increase. We’re forecasting these customers to have increased the total GMV for April by 87% compared to the year before. We would expect to see strong natural growth rates in a world before Corona, but again the scale of the upswing continues to be remarkable.

We expect that many sellers who aren’t in the ‘essential’ or home-based categories are currently considering if they can get into them, given they have the systems and infrastructure in place to trade far more quickly than those starting without any ecommerce presence.

A report came out recently from the US by Stackline which paints a detailed picture of the ecommerce fallout by a list of drilled down categories. It’s dated 31st March, so the data is little more than a week old, and we think that US categories and US activities provide a pretty good proxy for what’s happening in the UK.

The article draws very similar conclusions to Volo in terms of the enforced period people are spending at home, and the cancellation of travel plans, weddings and holidays. The top 5 performing categories, comparing March 2020 to March 2019 are:

  • Disposable gloves, up 670%
  • Bread machines, up 652%
  • Cough and colds medicines, up 535%
  • Soups, up 397%
  • Dried grains & rice, up 386%

The top 80 categories doubled their year-on-year performance, and even the 100th performing category, safes, was up 67% on the same period last year.

The biggest losing categories make for grim but predictable reading:

  • Luggage & suitcases, down 77%
  • Briefcases, down 77%
  • Cameras, down 64%
  • Men’s swimwear, down 64%
  • Bridal clothing, down 63%

Coming in at 100th place was climbing & hiking bags, which still experienced at 28% reversal on March 2019’s figures

Have a look at the lists and see how your sub-category or -categories stack up. Perhaps there are not too many surprises, although our eyebrows were raised at ‘cell’ phones appearing at number 60 in the list of worst performing sectors. In the UK, where many mobile phone retailers have shut their physical outlets, the demand has jumped ship onto the virtual outlets, and in some cases in eye-wateringly large numbers.

If you’d like to discuss your ecommerce and marketplace strategy in these extremely challenging times, you’re welcome to get in touch here.

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