The predicted boom in online shopping has seen some sectors witness sales increases of nearly 350% but not everyone is laughing all the way to bank; others are reporting that their business is actually falling.
New data from Fresh Relevance, the real-time personalisation and optimisation platform, indicates that, overall the evolving Covid-19 pandemic drove a revenue increase of 60% for online retail in March.
But the findings, taken from a sample of 278 businesses within Fresh Relevance’s client base, document how the introduction of social distancing measures impacted consumer purchasing habits week-on-week.
While online sales increased moderately in the first week of March, revenues jumped in the second half of the month when the UK Government introduced the stay-at-home rules.
Yet, whilst online retail as a whole saw a rise in revenue across March 2020, the impact varied by vertical. Toys and games e-commerce businesses have seen the greatest growth, with a rise in revenue to 341%, followed by food and drink and the tobacco and vaping sectors, both of which rose to over 200% of their normal revenue.
Other sectors that have experienced significant growth include home and garden, technology and sports and hobbies, with revenue increasing to between 150% and 200% of what it was at the beginning of the month.
For the health category, however, there is a mixed story. While there was a steady increase in revenue at the start of the month, this began to drop mid-month, before levelling out.
For the office supplies, jewellery and luxury goods, insurance and finance and automotive verticals, the changing consumer habits have driven a fall in average revenue.
Fresh Relevance chief executive and co-founder Mike Austin said that while the impact across the retail sector has been varied, the temporary closure of many physical stores and self-isolation of consumers has created opportunities for a number of e-commerce verticals.
He added: “For most of us, the home now serves as a place for work, schooling, exercise and relaxation, and shopping habits in March were hugely reflective of this as everyone was forced to adapt.
“With the situation constantly evolving, brands need to put convenience and relevance at the heart of their marketing strategy to help consumers navigate these unprecedented times. New habits and ways of shopping are occurring now that could extend once the stay-at-home orders lift.
“So online retailers also need to start planning a path forward, and ensure to have marketing tactics in place that deliver ROI while enhancing the customer experience and building loyalty in a post-pandemic world.”