What demonetization did to digital payments, COVID-19 is doing to eCommerce

Updated: Jan 11

We are now at the end of week 3 of COVID-19 lockdown in Pune. As our teams are cranking from their homes, I have spent a bulk of my time analyzing data on Shoptimize’s platform. Here are some snippets worth mentioning:

  • Week 1 of the COVID-19 lockdown saw a 32% surge in transactions on brand websites. These were mainly driven by food and personal hygiene products. All this happened while brands cut down on ad spends not knowing what to expect. This died down once the shipping was impacted.

  • After all, brands have cut ad spends completely, the traffic on our platform fell by only 21%. Time on site is up 76% and visitors are researching products online like never before. The percentage of site visits to product detail pages is up by 82%.

  • I have been on calls with leadership teams at brands we work with and they are all showing a renewed confidence in the brand eCommerce channel. Many believe that it will be their saving grace not just in the near term but for this entire fiscal year that has just begun.

  • The new VS Repeat visitor ratio went up by 14%. Newer visitors are making it brand websites while ad spends is down to zero.

The current self-isolation period is converting a lot of skeptics to regular online shoppers. For most of us, this may seem odd as we have been shopping online for a while. But given that eCommerce penetration in India is still in the lower single digits (2.9% of overall retail in 2018), there is still a lot of headroom. And transacting online is quickly becoming the new normal. Conversion ratios on one of the food brands we work with went up a staggering 250% in the past few weeks.

COVID-19 lockdown is a tough period for us all and we are hoping to get out of this crisis with minimum damage. But this period is building new habits which will stay long after the virus is gone. We are working tirelessly during this period to ensure that brands are able to leverage this shift in behavior and regain some of the lost ground on the offline front. Everything we have been building has now got a new meaning. Like everyone else, we are raring to go once things get back to normal. If this trend is going to continue, we have our work cut out.