Understanding Global Consumer Behavior Shifts Due to COVID-19

Cassandra Shaffer

June 3, 2020

COVID-19 has had a fairly dramatic effect on ecommerce globally as sellers look to tackle trends and figure out how to emerge on top. At the end of the day, the customer is always right—so we’ve broken down how COVID-19 is affecting global consumer behavior for you, beyond the obvious “people are buying masks and disinfectant,” and “people are grocery shopping online more” trends.

Consumers are staying home—which means less travel and takeout.

It comes as no surprise that the travel industry is experiencing the most adverse effects. In a white paper published March 16, 2020, SimilarWeb reported Hong Kong and Italy travel platforms had fared the worst, and as more countries in the EU and states in the U.S. impose travel restrictions there will likely be negative effects there as well. For a while, consumers searching for a bargain did continue to drive traffic to U.S. travel sites, but that didn’t last long.

According to its analysis, SimilarWeb added that spikes in travel site traffic could also be attributed to consumers making cancellations, looking for refunds, and trying to get information about current travel restrictions and guidelines. As for travel accessories—there’s been over a 50% decrease in that category.

It seems like there’s no end in sight for the coronavirus pandemic, and when it does end, it’s unlikely consumers will jump back into old behaviors, such as traveling internationally, according to a report by McKinsey & Company.

Online grocery shopping (we said we wouldn’t focus on it, not that we wouldn’t mention it) has seen exponential growth over the past few months, but McKinsey & Company’s analysis found that globally, consumers have mixed feelings as to whether or not they’ll continue to buy groceries online in the future.

Of course, the pandemic didn’t necessarily affect how we feel about cooking. In the U.S. and the U.K., SimilarWeb reported that food delivery continued to trend upward—however, the supply to meet the demand for takeout could affect that trend as restaurants face the difficult decision of whether or not to stay open. Chain restaurants that traditionally have made delivery a part of their model, such as pizza places, will likely be the big winners here.

The “new essentials”

The most interesting consumer trend to arise out of this “new normal” is the creation of a “new essentials” category, which includes things like toys and hobbies, health and beauty, fitness, and housewares. Specific categories that saw an increase in purchases during social distancing, according to a report from Gray Falkon, include: pets (35%), home and garden (52%), clothing and accessories (70%), baby products (29%), health and personal care (47%), and beauty products (30%). This trend is taking root in the U.S., U.K., China, and much of Europe.

Besides increases in purchases of shelf-stable goods (pasta to the rescue), there’s been a nearly 500% increase in purchases in the medical category. On the flip side, consumers are purchasing fewer electronics and appliances, and luxury goods (like fancy handbags, not the pricey yoga pants everyone is living in right now) are facing a loss of potentially $10 billion just this year.

“Essentially, consumers are buying anything that makes them more comfortable at home,” says Michelle Thompson, Pattern Marketplace Manager. “That being said, consumers are less focused on frivolous and unnecessary purchases, and more concerned with purchasing necessities.”

So, pasta = necessary, but Versace = unnecessary. You just can’t eat couture.

Reduced optimism, spending, and income

It comes as no surprise that most consumers in countries affected by COVID-19 are feeling less optimistic about the future. Most expect to have a decrease in income, which of course leads to a decrease in overall spending (see ya later, “frivolous and unnecessary purchases”). At least, that’s been the case across the Americas and most of Europe—McKinsey & Co. reported that China and India actually saw an increase in optimism in mid-March.

Most countries, excepting again India and China, expected to see a decrease in income, with Brazil and South America consumers leading the way with over 60% of consumers expecting a decrease in income. While this has led to consumers globally spending less on unnecessary items and more on the “new essentials,” China bucked the trend again, seeing consumers buy more than just basic items. This can likely be attributed to the fact that the virus seemed to impact China first—meaning China is ahead of the curve when it comes to dealing with the pandemic and its effects.

The “new consumer”

Not to be overdramatic, but the world as we know it has changed forever—so, naturally, consumer behavior has changed forever as well. Consumers have found new ways to work, learn, entertain themselves, spend time with others, and, most importantly for us in the ecommerce world, new ways to shop.

“Things people used to buy in stores, they’ll now buy online,” Thompson said. “For example, there are things I used to never buy online, like clothes. However, I needed a pair of shorts. I took the leap and finally bought myself clothes online, and will definitely do it again!”

Thompson said she realized just how easy it is to buy clothes online, and that returns are equally as easy, if not easier than in-store returns. Other people are realizing this as well, she added.

“Ecommerce has already seen huge gains in categories such as electronics, fashion, etc.,” Thompson said. “However, I can see categories such as everyday essentials and grocery seeing larger gains post-pandemic, now that people have experienced the ease of shopping online.”

McKinsey & Co. reported that curbside pickup from restaurants has grown in popularity in the U.S. and Germany, and more grocery stores in the U.S., UK, Spain, and Italy are experimenting with curbside pickup as well.

“People are becoming more adapted to staying at home and will become more and more reliant on ecommerce and delivery service,” Thompson said. “I see a slow return to brick and mortar stores.”

The lack of “frivolous spending” will probably also continue post-pandemic, Thompson said, as the economy rebounds but also as part of a shift in consumer preference.

Another trend to be aware of when it comes to consumers is the emergence of social selling. This trend began pre-pandemic, but as consumers are spending more time online and on social media, brands are going to have to get on board with it, Thompson advised.

“I can absolutely see more and more consumers purchasing on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, as this is where they’re spending more time,” she said.

Wondering how you can appeal to this “new consumer” or how to navigate social selling? Contact our experts here at Pattern by filling out the form below.

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Sept 27, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/amazon-drives-renewable-energy-push-with-71-new-projects-2022-09-21/) Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/26/prime-early-access-sale/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/shopify-launches-new-localisation-tool/) Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News](https://uk.news.yahoo.com/etsy-600-million-on-marketing-ceo-154054219.html) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/22/meta-to-slash-costs-by-10-over-coming-months/) DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/21/dhl-partners-with-quadient-to-offer-smart-locker-delivery/) The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/online-fashion-market-worth-e175-billion-in-2025/)
Sept 22, 2022

How an Amazon SEO Agency Should Be Serving Your Brand

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. 

What is an Amazon SEO Agency?

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:

Prioritize Your Success

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.

Provide Detailed Competitive Insight

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.

Reduce Your Ad Spend Over Time

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.

Amazon SEO Optimization and More

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.

Sept 20, 2022

4 Ecommerce Marketplace Consultant Must-Haves

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. 

What is an Ecommerce Consultant?

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.

1. Brand Obsession/Specialization/Passion

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. 

2. Proven Results

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.

3. Wide Range of Marketplace Expertise

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.

4. Network of Resources

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.

Achieve Your Ecommerce Goals With Pattern

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.