On Apr, 2 2020
The global lockdowns put in place to stop the spread of Covid_19 have had a varying effect on businesses all over the world. Some industries, such as hospitality or brick-and-mortar retail, face the difficult reality that they must shut-up-shop until it’s all over. But for businesses in the e-commerce industry, the next steps to take are not so clear.
Every e-merchant faces a unique situation based on where their suppliers are based, how their customers are being affected, and what products they sell in their online store. The last of these factors is particularly important - customers’ needs and wants have changed drastically over the past few weeks and e-merchants need to adapt both their production and marketing strategies to stay relevant.
In this article, we put ourselves in the mind of the consumer to uncover products that are set to become best-sellers over the next few months. If you don’t see any of the products you sell listed don’t worry, our list is far from finite. Simply put yourself in the same ‘quarantined consumer’ mindset and take a deeper look at your own product catalog to identify your own lockdown essentials.
In times of uncertainty, long-life food products are always the first to fly off the shelves. The stockpiling of long-life food comes from customers’ instinctual need to be prepared if food production chains shut down. Covid_19 has been no different, with supermarkets all over the world running out of pasta, rice or canned foods.
The way our current crisis has differed to those before it is that people are stock-piling in a more health-conscious manner. While ten years ago customers would have rushed for the bags of frozen chicken nuggets or tins of chili beef, customers are now looking to stock up on health-foods.
In fact, a search trends report showed a 348% increase in the popularity of the term ‘Oat Milk’, a 68% increase in ‘Dried Beans’, and a 10% spike in searches for hipster health drink ‘Kombucha’.
Customers are responding to the global pandemic by working to improve their own health and give their immune system a much-needed boost - and e-merchants in the food industry need to take note.
Just because your customers are stuck indoors it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re sitting on the couch watching Tiger King all day (I’m sure some of them are, but not all of them, and not all of the time).
People want to spend this forced home-time in a productive way, be it:
- Learning a new skill
- Making something from scratch
- Or preparing for upcoming product shortages.
The most delicious way to tick all three of these boxes is by baking your own bread or making homemade pasta.
Appliances needed for these activities are already seeing huge jumps in popularity, with the term ‘bread maker’ increasing its search percentage by 465%, and a pasta maker jumping to 2nd spot on Amazon’s movers and shakers list.
In a similar vein to the point made above, gardening offers people under lockdown the chance to learn a new skill, create something from scratch, and prepare for any imminent food shortages.
So it should come as no surprise that both gardening equipment and vegetable seeds have already seen a boost in sales around the globe. There has also been an increase in visits to blogs and websites giving people advice on how to grow vegetables and other edible plants.
When looking at both this trend and the one above it is abundantly clear that customers worldwide want to learn how to take control of their own food production. If your e-commerce store can cater to this new need in any way you should be able to boost the profits in your online store!
Customers all over the world are getting creative and spending their new-found spare time learning a skill. One particular skill that people have been gravitating towards is learning a musical instrument!
The instruments that are seeing the biggest spike in sales are the guitar and the ukelele, which comes as no surprise as they’re easily the most practical in our current situation. Both are relatively cheap (compared to other instruments), easy to ship, and seemingly simple to learn.
One of the strongest trends we’ve seen emerge over the past couple of weeks has been the sale of, and search for, at-home fitness products. Dumbbells and resistance bands have been two of the most consistently trending search terms since the lockdowns began, with ‘dumbbells’ seeing a 726% increase in searches and ‘resistance bands’ receiving 381% more searches than before Covid_19.
It seems that most* people aren’t willing to let the lockdown take its toll on their fitness or physique (*although I can say from personal experience that some certainly are).
The Covid_19 lockdowns have seen office workers all over the world pick up their laptops and start working from home. This means they’ve had to turn their kitchen/living room/ bedroom into a makeshift office. While working in your pajamas from the comfort of your own bed sounds great at first, the realization soon hits that you’re missing many of the office amenities that you once took for granted.
You quickly start missing the back support of your ergonomic desk chair was, you notice how tiny the laptop screen is compared to the monitor in your office, and suddenly you find yourself searching all corners of the internet for products that will help you mimic your old working environment.
So, what office products are the new ‘work from homer’s’ needing most? Internet search trends have shown queries about ‘external monitors’ jumping 160%, ‘standing desk’ searches have increased 87%, and ‘mouse for laptop’ has risen 120%.
Electronics are essential for an enjoyable lockdown. Whether you’re trying to up your productivity in your home office or set up an amazing home entertainment system, electronics are a must.
The particular electronic products that have shown the strongest growth in online searches are routers (+23%) and DVI cables (+106%). These search trends show that people want an increase in at-home connection, whether they want to improve their internet connection so that they can stream movies in every room of the house, or want to connect their computer with their laptop with their TV with their projector screen to create the ultimate ‘smart home’ set-up.
These electronic products are used to enhance many of the other trends shown on this list. This shows us that it’s important to not just look at the newly trending activity, but at the often forgotten products that make this activity possible.
Possibly the most predictable of all the trends on our list, ‘at-home entertainment’ has seen a huge surge in sales over the past few weeks. Netflix is on track to double its predicted yearly growth rate, Nintendo has said they can’t make enough Switch consoles to meet demand, and PC gaming platform Steam set a record the most global users at one time, a whopping 20.3 million users.
While all these statistics are impressive, they don’t immediately seem useful for anyone outside the online entertainment industry. Savvy e-merchants need to look at these statistics through another lens to work out how their business can benefit.
Think about how the products you sell in your e-commerce store could enhance customer’s entertainment experience. People don’t want to simply ‘watch Netflix’, they want to slip into a comfy onesie, make themselves some popcorn, then curl up in a beanbag and press play. There are so many products that make at-home entertainment more enjoyable, now’s the time to have a good think about the products you sell and start marketing any that fit this niche.
Health and safety
Products that help people stay healthy and feel safe during a pandemic are flying off the shelves, both physically and online. As we all know, products like hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, face masks, and disinfectants have sold out in every corner of the globe. Additionally, products that give your immune system a boost, like vitamin supplements and gummies, are seeing unprecedented sales, with the search ‘vitamin C tablets’ growing 285% in recent weeks.
What e-merchants should now do is look to the future. What effects will the increased use of such products have on your customers? The constant use of hand sanitizer and gloves will surely cause dry and cracked skin, so people may start looking for hand creams and lotions to counter this. The overuse of aerosol disinfectants will leave a strange smell throughout the house, so customers may start looking for scented candles to mask the smell.
E-merchants need to think not just about what customers need right now, but what they will need in the coming weeks and months.
With face-to-face social gatherings banned in most countries, technologies that help people communicate both visually and audibly are seeing a huge rise in use. Offices are holding meetings using Microsoft Teams, friends are having mass catch-ups over the House Party app, and many people in older generations are embracing Skype and Facetime to communicate with loved ones.
This trend is particularly prevalent in nations with the strictest quarantine laws in place such as Italy, where time spent in group calls has increased over 1000% this past month.
E-merchants need to think about how the rise of such technologies could help them market their products and engage with customers. Could you host a workshop or class with your customers over Skype? Is there a way you could demonstrate the usefulness of your product through a live video? Get creative and use the rise in social technologies to your advantage.
One of the most wholesome ways that people have been spending their time in lockdown is getting creative with DIY projects. DIY projects are fun, rewarding, and most importantly for our current climate, time-consuming.
Searches for ‘sewing tutorial’ have jumped 160% in the past few weeks, and ‘knitting’ has increased 17%, showing that people around the world are rediscovering these long-forgotten skills and pastimes.
E-merchants who stock anything that customers can design or build themselves need to direct their budget toward marketing these products. Think:
- Design products like wool, fabric, thread or needles
- Crafty products like colored paper, glitter or glue
- Pre-made build-it-yourself kits like ‘At home candle making’ or ‘Build your own board game’
And remember, this list is far from exhaustive. Think about your own products from the perspective of a buyer in lock-down and identify any you think would be necessary, useful, or just plain entertaining!