How Social Distancing Guidelines Increase Online Shopping
By Emmanuel Nwachukwu
An event that has dictated the pace of the world for over five months will definitely leave its mark on time. It is an open secret that the post-COVID-19 world will not be the usual terrain. As social and economic activities gradually resume, and the world gradually heals from the torment inflicted by the virus, integral aspects of human activity that will be redefined are business, commerce and customer behaviour. These aspects will be greatly impacted by new trends.
Lockdown and restrictions during the pandemic brought new customers onboard the e-commerce train. Hence, the emerging post covid era is proving to be a period of boom for e-commerce globally and on the African continent, as more small and medium scale businesses are moving online. Months ago, when guidelines were stricter, consumers stayed home and did their shopping online, many customers have however kept the trend going, resulting in increased e-cart checkouts.
Global brand Amazon reported net income of $5.2 billion in Q2 2020, while total revenue grew by 40%. Asian market leader, Alibaba recorded 34% revenue growth and net income of $6.b billion. In Africa, leading e-commerce platforms Jumia also recorded more orders and patronage. For instance, when Jumia released its 2020 Q1 report, the scorecard showed that the company thrived during the pandemic and is optimistic of a positive Post Covid era as its losses begin to shrink.
Competitive pricing which contributes to customers making huge savings on online marketplace like Jumia appears to be a driving force in their recent performance. They not only provide unlimited products, but also offer lower prices which proves useful for consumers at a time like this. There are several options available to compare prices from different stores and manufacturers. Jumia also democratizes the prices of products on its platform by championing a healthy competition among the sellers.
Aside from the comfort and low price offerings being major catalysts, mobile commerce culture also received a boost, which is to the advantage of ecommerce platforms. According to Statista, mobile commerce is expected to account for 72.9% of all e-commerce by 2021. The projection is already proving a possibility, as more customers become comfortable
with the new options available on their smartphones. Recent reports showed that transactions on Jumia’s fintech product, JumiaPay reached 2.4 million, a year-over-year increase of 36%, representing 35.6% on-platform penetration in terms of orders. The majority of the orders were via mobile application.
Another major aspect that ecommerce has benefited from the pandemic is the hygiene culture. Governments around the world are gradually easing restrictions to revive economic activities, but are still very skeptical about the numbers in gatherings and physical stores. The implication of this is that businesses that prioritize hygiene measures and integrate sanitation with operations will gain customers’ trust and patronage.
“The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the first quarter of 2020 brought about a complex combination of health, economic and operational challenges. Our first priority was to help our employees, consumers and communities stay safe. On the operational side, we took prompt action to ensure business continuity and adjust our logistics to meet high standards of safety and hygiene,” said Jumia’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeremy Hodara. Many customers are still conscious of the threat of covid19 and thus opt for ecommerce which gives them shopping experience from the comfort of wherever they are.
From all indications, Covid-19 and the social distancing guidelines will leave behind a new business order and customer behaviour which will be driven by digital processes. Shoppers across the country are looking for online marketplaces that can provide the best savings, as offline shopping continues to prove difficult in view of the social distancing regulations. Already, Jumia has carved a niche for itself by consistently providing consumers access to a wide array of products at the most affordable rates similar to offline markets, and in some cases better than offline markets.