How will the coronavirus outbreak affect eCommerce businesses?

Many different sectors are experiencing their own unique challenges in response to the global concerns about coronavirus. However, drops in trading and increased working at home are universal issues that are sure to have an impact on many businesses now and in the near future.

For online retailers, the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus is creating a great deal of uncertainty. Supply chains face potential disruption and it may become difficult to carry out regular deliveries to both trade clients and consumers.

To make things even more challenging, as more people follow distancing advice and remain at home, many are turning to online shopping for groceries and essentials. Such a sudden and sharp spike in demand will ultimately have an impact on a retailer’s existing operations, forcing them to adapt quickly.

Last week, online supermarket Ocado announced that it was completely shutting down its website until the weekend. This was to allow the retailer enough time to make changes to their online service, increasing their availability, maximising delivery capacity and ensuring the website doesn’t become overloaded.

How are businesses feeling?

As the global situation is rapidly evolving, it’s difficult to see at this point just how big of an impact it will have on daily life and commerce overall. In fact, a survey of over 300 US retailers earlier this month found that about a third of respondents felt it was too early to tell how much they’ll be affected.

How will the coronavirus outbreak affect eCommerce businesses?

The biggest concern for many retailers, however, was not to do with their ability to trade, but the impact that the crisis would have on consumer confidence. As many as 58% of those surveyed by Digital Commerce 360 expressed concerns over whether customers would lose faith in not just them, but also other retail businesses in general.

These figures offer a strong indication that businesses will need to be a bit more proactive in the coming weeks and months to prove to customers that they can stay on the ball. It could be a significant challenge for retailers and traders to keep on providing their usual services as much as possible, especially with staff working remotely.

The pros and cons for eCommerce

Contrary to other industries, however, eCommerce businesses may find themselves handling the disruption a little better than others as home-workers continue to operate in a digital environment. This should allow eCommerce managers to keep the wheels turning smoothly as they can handle sales and enquiries fairly easily.

How will the coronavirus outbreak affect eCommerce businesses?

The main pressure points that online traders and retailers face will be real-world issues like manufacturing, stock replenishment and deliveries to consumers. Such concerns could potentially have a knock-on effect on growth in the eCommerce sector, particularly if consumer demands outweigh levels of supply.

It’s almost inevitable that all industries will face some key challenges in the weeks and months to come. Staying pro-active will help eCommerce business to combat the negative effects on daily operations and the wider economy. That’s why it’s important to go above and beyond for customers as much as possible, rather than sitting back and taking a “wait-and-see” approach.

Financial support available

In response to the unprecedented effects of the coronavirus spread, the UK Government has pledged £330 billion to help businesses large and small to weather the storm. How this money will be made available is yet to be clarified, but cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 should go some way towards alleviating concerns over potential losses in the coming months.

How will the coronavirus outbreak affect eCommerce businesses?

On top of that, retailers also operating out of bricks-and-mortar stores will have one less thing to worry about as footfall dwindles. Business rates on commercial properties are to be scrapped for 12 months, allowing managers to increase their focus on eCommerce channels without suffering any major drawbacks.

All in all, eCommerce merchants – whether trading with other businesses or public consumers – will certainly face some significant ups and downs like never before. By remaining vigilant, responsive and adapting to changes as they come, you can ensure that your online operations continue to run as smoothly as possible and generate a steady stream of revenue in the meantime.

If you need additional support to optimise, or even expand your Magento store now or in the near future, speak to Klova to find out how we can assist you and your business going forward.

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