With the first death in the UK from the coronavirus being reported today at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, the world of ecommerce is starting to take exceptional steps to mitigate risk from the virus and manage expectations. In our Coronavirus ecommerce update we cover the main impacts sellers might be facing and steps marketplaces are taking.
Realistically we’ve not yet seen the worst in the UK yet and cases are likely to peak in perhaps 4 to 6 week’s time with outbreaks continuing into the early summer. This means that you may face staff shortages as employees self isolate and it’s also worth noting government legislation to pay Statutory sick pay from the first day of sickness rather than from the fourth day of sickness.
Research carried out by Veeqo has revealed that 1 in 4 online retailers turning over £1m+ in revenue in the UK are expecting to see an increase in their sales performance due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Merchants selling across ecommerce websites and on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay reported a sales increase of around 25% – with some experiencing growth of up to 150%.
People choosing to shop online rather than visiting shopping centres and retail stores was cited as the main reason for an increase in ecommerce sales although that hasn’t stopped some consumers from raiding their local supermarket shelves with products as mundane as toilet roll being totally sold out in many stores.
However there is a downside to the uptick in sales, 80% of those Veeqo surveyed said they had experienced difficulty sourcing inventory since the coronavirus outbreak – with delays in supplies coming from China cited as the main reason for this. However, retailers who purchase inventory from the UK supply chain have enjoyed a competitive advantage over their retail rivals who source products exclusively from China but this might not last long – with trade disrupted even products manufactured in the UK often rely on components or raw materials from abroad and many of these will originate in China.
eBay Coronavirus ecommerce update
eBay in the US have now totally banned the sale of certain products having previously warned against price gouging. You can no longer sell the following on eBay.com:
- Masks including N95/N100 and surgical masks
- Hand Sanitizer/Gel
- Disinfecting Wipes
eBay are blocking new listings and starting to remove existing listings for these products as well as removing any listing that mentions COVID-19, coronavirus, 2019nCoV (except books) in the title or description.
Hermes Coronavirus ecommerce update
Hermes has announced it is to make a £1 million pound fund available for its self- employed couriers, to help support them if they need to self-isolate as a result of the coronavirus. It follows concerns about their welfare as self-employed people are not eligible for sick pay. Hermes will also support them in finding someone to deliver on their behalf if they do not have a substitute and guarantee that their rounds will be kept open for them for when they return. This initiative is supported by the GMB Union.
“This is an extraordinary situation and we have taken the decision to help support our couriers financially if they need help and also ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus. It is simply the right thing to do and I hope that other organisations will follow our lead.”
– Martijn De Lange, CEO at Hermes UK
Amazon Coronavirus ecommerce update
Following the revalation that one Amazon Seattle-based employee has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, Amazon is encouraging all employees to work from home if possible. They’re not messing about – they’ve said to steer clear of the office until the end of March so long as your line manager authorises remote working.
Facebook, Microsoft and Google are also encouraging their employees to work from home.