We have experienced a huge spike in ecommerce sales in the 3rd Party Fulfillment industry over the last few months. It’s similar to Peak season and in some cases even greater in order volume. I have been thinking a lot about what’s next, when it comes to this new buying behavior. At some point, when Covid becomes an unpleasant memory, what will shopping look like?
A study from Stackline.com analyzed and compared U.S. ecommerce sales in March 2020 vs. 2019. The result: luggage and briefcases as well as cameras have been the fastest declining product categories in the current crisis so far. All kinds of clothing and outdoor products dropped significantly as well. At the top of the list from this study were disposable gloves, PPE, cough medicines and bread machines. Also, within the top 25 items were all kinds of hygiene products, power generators, and personal protection items. As we move further into a recovery phase of course this mix will certainly change.
What became very clear in this crisis is that companies that were prepared for the old buzz word… “Omni Channel” marketing techniques, specifically within the ecommerce channel and those able to adapt to the new buzz word… “digital transformation”, are thriving and wondering when or if it is all going to end. “Digital transformation” is defined as “companies making their relevant offers and services consistent with a focus on customer experience with ecommerce being the main element in keeping the business thriving.” The previous investment into ecommerce is keeping businesses alive.
The consensus and my personal belief is that ecommerce will remain the center of the retail experience. This pandemic was the catalyst that took it from greater than $602B in 2019 annual sales, now rising in the range of 20+%, as Bricks and Mortar fall by approximately 14%.
We cannot be sure what the retail segment of physical shopping will look like in the future. However, based on consumer adaptability and behavior models, along with the onset of more shopping convenience from companies investments in digital transformation, we now have become much more hooked with this new norm. This will be what drives the bottom line for many retailers.
AMS Fulfillment is poised and ready to support this new shopping norm with ongoing re-engineering operational improvements, always supporting those focused on digital transformation.
One thing I believe the pandemic didn’t change is that most of the leading companies will always differentiate themselves based on the experience that they deliver to their customers.