Corona brought a lot of new customers to online stores

Noora Pasanen Written by Noora Pasanen - Sep 18, 2020

With the corona crisis, online stores attracted a lot of customers who were shopping online for the first time. This was revealed in a study by Columbia Road, which was reported in Kauppalehti, a Finnish commerce-oriented newspaper.

According to the survey, most of these first-time purchases were for clothing and accessories. The survey also shared that during the pandemic this spring as many as 55% of Finns bought items online that they had not previously.

During the spring it has been reported that in addition to clothing, online grocery stores in particular had quite a lot of growth. Demand for food grew significantly, virtually overnight and e-commerce grew as stores increased their supply. Naturally restaurant deliveries also increased significantly. For example, in May Kotipizza had the highest sales of its entire history.

Presumably, in the case of clothing purchases, it's the transfer of demand from physical stores to online and not an actual increase in sales.

However, thanks to the crisis, many businesses and even industries found new business opportunities online. Many of these are likely to remain permanent, even if people return to brick and mortar stores and restaurants.

Businesses go online to overcome losses

As Kauppalehti highlighted in its article, when the pandemic hit many companies made a real digital leap. This of course is good, but the downside is that many of shoppers more accustomed to shopping online are already quite demanding customers. Online businesses are expected to provide good service, a functional user interface and comprehensive information. A lot of the businesses were forced now to set up their online store in a hurry. In the future, however, those who really invest in e-commerce will succeed. Therefore, many new online stores still have quite a lot to do online in order to get real added value.

Although corona caused a significant change in buying behavior, it is not really an unexpected upheaval in this respect, but a sudden acceleration of processes already in progress. Efforts were made to make up for lost business that were partially successful through online sales, and as a result, people learned new, easier ways to buy. For example, online grocery stores were a rising trend that now broke through all at once. It is likely that many who have learned to shop online will continue to after the crisis subsides.

On the other hand, efforts to make up for lost business has brought entirely new items and product groups to e-commerce, such as online coaching types that were previously mainly face-to-face interactions.

The third aspect is completely new businesses who have responded to the opportunities created by the pandemic, above hand sanitizers and face mask businesses.

The crisis did not bring paralysis

It is obvious that the corona crisis has not only meant positive news for e-commerce.

Industries that have significantly decreased are tourism, public transportation and event ticket sales. Although event organizers in particular have innovatively created a wide range of digital events and sought to minimize their losses with them, the volumes haven’t come close to the amount lost.

From the point of view of event organizers, a thin silver lining is that the development of digital events can hopefully generate additional sales channels in addition to the physical events to be held in the future. However, it is difficult to see a very significant economic impact with these at this stage.

On the tourism side, some online stores have already started to see a small increase in sales but are still nowhere near to normal.

Based on e-commerce statistics, it is difficult to estimate the development of consumer purchasing power in these circumstances. What is clear, however, is that the purchasing power of many has weakened as a result of layoffs. Moreover, these uncertain times have caused buyers to become cautious. However, our statistics do not show the actual paralysis stage at the beginning of the crisis, but businesses started to go online very quickly. People learn quickly and want to go on with life unchanged as much as possible. This is a comforting message to the businesses and especially online businesses.


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