With lock-down restrictions starting to be eased, what now for eCommerce. During the lock-down any one with a half decent seo’ed web site have seen visitors and sales soar. Depending on the industry that you have been involved with current sales are better than peak Christmas.
Will this prosperous period for online sales continue or is there going to be a slowdown in sales and profits? Whether you continue to kill it during this time is going to be pretty much dependant on hat type of web site you have and the topic it is involved with.
Boom times for eCommerce
Using one of my Amazon affiliate sites as an example. My sales since the lockdown have soared but only in the one category. For me it was educational toys such as microscopes and telescopes. Once schools closed parents were left to provide home education. Microscopes in particular have been a very good seller. If you check the main image above you can see visits and sales to the web site have soared. Sales were breaking normal levels for Christmas. This is without any paid marketing, just on normal search results.
Looking again at the graph above you can see that there was a drop in visitors a few days ago and is now picking up again. That drop coincided quite nicely with the first credible reports of lockdown measures being eased and schools going back in June. Once those reports started the sales of educational toy sales started to slip. Obviously, if schools might be heading back soon then the peak sales for educational toys will have passed.
The new uptick from the site comprises sales of camping equipment. Normally, camping sales commissions will be at it’s peak around the Easter week and just after as people buy for the new season. This year the lockdown has effectively killed any holiday and outdoor related sales. But the new less onerous restrictions in England means people are looking at getting ready for their camping trips. Tents lead the way as the expectation is that camping and caravan sites will reopen before any other holiday accommodation sites.
Sales remain strong but shifting focus as lockdown starts to relax
Looking across my range of web sites and speaking to other affiliate marketers and drop-shipping there appears to be similar patterns. It’s early days for any firm conclusions but the market appears to be shifting and moving very quickly.
During the lockdown the big sellers were stay at home type of things. Home gyms, baking supplies, games, art and crafts, educational supplies. These all did well during the lockdown but sales are now rapidly reducing. The new emerging markets with growing sales seem to be aimed at the outdoors and outdoor activities.
I’ve seen this pattern across most of my sites. Those aimed at the indoors have done well since lockdown began and now sites aimed at the outdoors are picking up. Cycling supplies have always done well during the lockdown but other things like golf, fishing, canoeing and camping were unseasonably quiet. That is now changing. The sales of inflatable canoes are improving together with tents and fishing gear. Friends tell me sales of golf, tennis and picnic items are also finally taking off as people think again about the outdoors.
Monitoring keyword trends will keep you in the moving marketplace
We’re in strange times. We could always know what products to push and promote depending on the season. Covid-19 has taken away that predictability. Now it’s about being conscious of the market and where it is at. There is no more important time than now to use tools such as Google Trends and Ask the People to see where the market is at.
Keeping an eye on the media to see what plans the government has is essential to try and stay in the marketplace as an affiliate or drop-shipper. So, for instance, electric scooter sales have never been very popular in the UK because they are illegal to use on public highways and footpaths. There was only 2 towns in the country where it was permitted under a trial scheme. Grant Shapps, when he announced £2 billion is support for new cycle lanes and footpaths also released all other towns and cities in England to allow for trials of electric scooter use. If more places lifted the ban on electric scooters then there is a new and exciting market to get into post-lockdown.
It is true to say that with every crisis comes opportunity. But to take advantage of that opportunity you have to be on the ball, think a little different and be first to act.
Will eCommerce remain booming after lockdown ends?
Post lockdown retail will definitely have changed. Ecommerce is going through a boom time as a result of the virus crisis but will that boom last. It’s unlikely. As normal shops and stores start to reopen people will go back. Ecommerce will slip back to previous. It may have a higher baseline than before the crisis but it will not maintain this current level. The realty is people like shopping. Shopping is one of the biggest pastimes and leisure activities in the UK.
So I expect to see a gradual drop in visitors and sales over the coming months. But if there is a 25% rise in the base level then I will be more than happy. Currently about 70% of my annual commissions and earnings come in the peak Christmas season of November and December. If that can be levelled out a bit it would make life so much easier.
Certainly this year will be a very profitable year. For 3 months now – which are normally quiet – I have been making Christmas levels of profit. With some form of lockdown remaining in place until September there is still the opportunity to extend this surge of demand for a few ore months. Then it is just a short time until the Christmas trade begins.
Will Covid-19 lockdown impact Christmas trading?
Which brings up the point of Christmas. Will 8 months of being on furlough for 25% of the population at 80% of income make a difference in sales and profitability in the busiest time of the year? I’m inclined to think that this Christmas could be one of the busiest for years. Yes 25% of the population has seen a substantial drop of income, losing 20% of earnings over the larger part of the year. But it is only 24% of the workforce. Many others will see an increase in earnings.
Many on furlough have taken second jobs which means they are earning more. Those on benefits have seen their allowances increased for 12 months. Single person allowance has increased by £90 a month for a year. That’s extra money to spend. Many health care and social care workers are receiving bonuses which will be spent. Over £100 billion is being spent on supporting workers. Unlike the financial crisis where all the money was given to bankers to take off-shore to tax-exempt accounts this time the bulk of the money is going in at the bottom end of the financial cycle. It’s going to workers who will spend the money within the local economy. I’m quite upbeat about the coming Christmas.
Overall, as we come out of lockdown there are still opportunities to grow profits in eCommerce if you keep ahead of the game and see where the sales trends are moving to as people change their spending habits.