By Emmanuel Nwachukwu
There’s no refuting the fact that Covid-19 has had a huge impact on every facet of human endeavour. Its economic impact was felt globally. Though the pandemic itself didn’t cripple the economy; its accompanying restrictions hindered the people whose activities ran the economy.
According to analysis from Australian National University, the global economy could lose up to $14.7 trillion in 2020, provided the world is able to prevent a second wave of the pandemic. The worst case scenario could see the loss rise to about $21.8 trillion.
It is an open secret that the pandemic will leave in its wake some trends that may become part of human socio-economic life for some time to come. For instance, businesses are fast embracing a remote working model. Global social media giants, Twitter announced that some of its employees could permanently work from home. In a firm decision, search engine brand, Google announced that the company employees will work from home until at least the summer of 2021. Sony Music, Amazon corporate, and Royal Bank of Scotland have also told their employees to work remotely till 2021.
However, one major impact the pandemic will leave on global activities are new consumption trends, shopping culture, pattern, and consumer preferences. While some of these trends will affect some sectors, recent events and trends have shown that ecommerce is, and will be one of the biggest gainers of the pandemic realities.
The pandemic is subtly enforcing a change in consumer behavior as people are becoming more hygiene and safety inclined. Despite the fact that restrictions are being lifted and economic activities reopening, the new normal is emerging with signs that online purchasing trends formed during the pandemic may see permanent adoption. Consumer shopping survey conducted in the U.S by Sensormatic Solutions in June showed that brick and mortar patronage is on the decline. “As consumers are becoming more intentional with their shopping visits, in-store experiences were less important in June (11%) compared to April (13%) – a 15% decrease month-on-month,” the report read.
While brick and mortar retailers are having hard times, the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon hired 175,000 people in the height of the virus as demands soar on the platform. The company also reported revenue high of $ 88.9billion for the first time in its 26 years history.
On the African continent, the pandemic boosted ecommerce patronage to an all-time high. Many observers of the market were of the opinion that the ecommerce trend will witness slop in the post covid era. But if feelers from industry operators are anything to go by, a new buying culture is emerging instead, as companies and individuals are visiting online platforms for tools and other necessities needed for remote working.
“As people started going out more and more in the last few weeks, we have seen historic top selling categories; furniture, phones, laptops, and other essentials needed for remote working as people and companies start the new normal business and personal lives,” said Jumia Nigeria CEO, Massimiliano Spalazzi.
The change in consumer behavior is also leading a reaction from global brands. The last few weeks have seen many sellers and buyers shift their attention from offline to online for strategic partnerships. Leveraging e-commerce platforms some global brands including Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Mastercard etc moved their products and services to the Jumia platform, either showcasing their products on the Jumia Mall or advertising their products on the Jumia Marketplace and benefiting from the Jumia’s wide reach and logistics operations.
Small retailers who had to embrace the online store platform during the lockdown are also experiencing a continuous shopping trend by customers. A seller on Konga platform, who identified herself as Abimbola said she is currently getting more orders online compared to her offline shop. “I think Coronavirus has opened the eyes of many to what they thought might not work initially. I myself had my doubts about the likes of Jumia and Konga until I was almost running out of business during the lockdown. The interesting part for me is that I currently make more sales online than my own store. I am beginning to consider stopping my shop rent,’ She said.
While sellers like Abimbola are taking advantage of the cost-effectiveness of ecommerce platforms, it is believed the increasing need for customers to save more will also sustain the online shopping culture for some time. According to Abimbola, “Sellers online do competitive pricing which means customers can get products at cheaper prices. Trust me, if customers know that the cost of buying online is the same as shopping offline, they will keep buying online. And the way small companies are filling the logistics gap, complaints about late delivery are reducing. So online shopping might just keep booming after the pandemic.”
It can thus be safely said that as the world embraces the reality of living with Covid-19, the shopping culture imbibed in the heat of lockdown promises to form part of the new normal, with technology-based businesses as major benefactors.