The coronavirus outbreak is changing the ecommerce landscape across the globe, for better or for worse. We conducted an analysis at Pattern using data from our China and United States operations to better understand how COVID-19 is affecting ecommerce.
It’s clear from the data that ecommerce in China and the United States have had opposite reactions to COVID-19.
Across our sample of 15 Tmall categories (Tmall has 60% of China’s ecommerce marketplace), there was a median 29% sales decrease compared to the same time last year.
In the United States, where quarantines and travel restrictions have been less severe, many ecommerce brands have seen 15-20% increase in sales as people avoid public places, work from home, and prepare for the ‘coronapocalypse.’
Consumer behavior change, compared to predictions using 2019 trends (usually within 5%), appears to have been spurred by increased publicity of the coronavirus in news articles across the country.
However, the future of ecommerce health in the U.S. depends mainly on how the government will react to further outbreaks of coronavirus. Will they act as China has restricting travel and quarantine cities? Or will they continue to allow deliveries, potentially taking advantage of drone and AV technologies? The two reactions paint a very different picture.
While the United States has not yet faced major lockdowns or regulations, around 48 cities and 750 million people in China have been subjected to travel bans, curfews, and exhaustive surveillance (China has even rolled out facial recognition drones with loud speakers to track and enforce regulations).
Many businesses, such as Apple supplier Foxconn, shut down operations, adding to the 60% decline in year-over-year sales for iPhones. With people avoiding or being prohibited to visit public places, Pattern China General Manager Arthur Cheung estimates that some retail stores in China have had as much as 98% declines in YoY sales. Overall, the impact appears to be closely related to the severity of Coronavirus restrictions.
What about ecommerce? From a sample of 15 Tmall categories (Tmall represents 60% of China’s ecommerce market share), the median category saw a 29% decrease in sales compared to the same time last year.
However, some categories have seen massive spikes in sales. Masks are estimated to be selling at about 582% above last year’s levels. Overall, it looks as if ecommerce has not been hit as hard as traditional retail channels, yet has not escaped massive declines in sales brought on by the combination of regulations and public anxiety.
The marketplace experience in the United States has differed significantly from that of China. Being early in the contraction of Coronavirus, hardly any U.S. cities have experienced travel restrictions or quarantines. However, consumers have reacted strongly to the increased publicity of Coronavirus.
Taking note of the China experience, consumers have emptied many retail stores of their water, toilet paper, and other “pre-apocalypse” supplies in fear of being quarantined. (Who knew that water and TP cured Coronavirus?) And, as more people work from home and avoid public places, many people turn to ecommerce as their main supplier. Some Pattern supplement brands have had revenue 15-20% above their predicted sales.
The future impact of Coronavirus on ecommerce depends largely on how the government will respond to the spread of the virus. Retail stores will almost certainly be negatively impacted as people avoid public places and travel is restricted. Ecommerce, on the other hand, could either be boom or bust.
If, for example, Amazon is allowed to continue delivering their products, ecommerce will see huge increases in demand. But, if Amazon’s fleets are halted, ecommerce will be in the same boat as retail, waiting on the virus and travel restrictions to pass.
On a side note, drones and other automated delivery services are receiving the perfect scenario to prove their importance. We expect higher uptake as a result of the outbreak.
In preparation for future virus disruptions, brands are seeing the importance of diversity in supply chain and product holding. We’ve seen that brands that have diverse supply chains are able to transition between manufacturing countries and mitigate their risks from supply chain disruption. And, brands that are diverse in their products—with a mix of luxury and more necessity goods—are handling the disruption better than brands completely dedicated to their specific niche.
To learn more about the changing ecommerce landscape and how you can prepare for it, contact Pattern below.
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If you’re in the global ecommerce space, you are most likely aware of Amazon, and probably selling your products on the marketplace. With over $470 billion in sales in 2021 alone, Amazon stands as the third largest company in the world based on revenue. The ecommerce giant is a household name in the U.S. and working hard to grow its market share across five continents worldwide.
Having your products available on Amazon and being competitive there, though, are definitely two different things. If you want to really succeed on Amazon, you’ll need specialized insight into how Amazon works and how to make it work for you. So, for many brands, it’s a great idea to work with an Amazon Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency.
At Pattern, Amazon SEO optimization service is one of our key competencies. We understand that technology, data-driven insights and expertise are the most important tools brands can leverage to win top listing spots on digital marketplaces. With expert teams and years of experience, we help brands conquer the Profitability Death Spiral as they compete with other products and sellers online. We offer Amazon SEO agency services as a core solution to brands that need more resources to get ahead.
An Amazon SEO agency serves brands by improving their products’ rank and listing performance on Amazon. They make strategic decisions about ad spending and placement that lead to higher traffic, conversions, and revenue for ecommerce brands.
A great Amazon SEO Agency partner will:
Unfortunately, many Amazon SEO agencies profit in unfair ways from your brands’ perceived success based on the ROAS numbers they provide. This is done through including branded search terms in ROAS reports, which naturally skew listing performance.
Let’s say, for instance, your brand is called “Annie’s” and you sell lollipops. Your brand has a very high likelihood of winning the top listing spots on Amazon for lollipop search terms that are paired with “Annie’s,” your brand name. So, SEO agencies will spend your ad money on those terms and report a very high ROAS.
To avoid scenarios like these, it’s best to look for an agency that either calculates their profits on metrics other than your ROAS scores or weighs branded search terms differently in the performance metrics reports. Regardless of your Amazon SEO agency’s cost structure, you should align onbranded search terms before committing to a scope of work.
A great indicator of a high-quality Amazon SEO agency is the level of insight they can provide into your competitors’ listing positioning and how it compares to yours. Data fanaticism is so important at Pattern that we’ve developed proprietary technology to display this exact information with precise detail for every brand we work with. In fact, you can find our free version here to see how you compare to some of your top competitors based on ASIN.
It’s certainly possible to improve your Amazon search performance with blind spending strategies. But a truly great solution will help you to know where your dollars are at their most powerful and competitive.
Amazon’s A10 algorithm prioritizes customer satisfaction—it wants to show consumers the best products that align with their search intent to improve conversions and sales. So, the best way to gain momentum on Amazon is to work on incremental wins.
Improving your performance on more obscure search terms that align with your customers’ search intent is a great way to increase ROAS for the long term. A10 will reward your success with better rankings on higher-volume search terms and the virtuous cycle can help you conquer your most-coveted listing spots. And the best part? This process of gaining momentum, if done right, will naturally decrease your ad spend over time as Amazon recognizes your value and works with you to keep your products at the top of consumers’ search results.
As an Amazon SEO specialist, Pattern knows how to help your brand win better success for long-term profitability on Amazon. With our data-driven tools and brilliant teams of ecommerce experts, we help brands with listing management, content optimization, Amazon ad strategies, and more.
Contact us to learn more about our SEO optimization services.
Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.