Thursday, March 5th 2020 – 12pm GMT
LONDON, UK: Research carried out by Veeqo, the inventory and shipping platform for retailers, has revealed that 1 in 4 online retailers in the UK are expecting to see an increase in their sales performance due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Retailers from a broad spectrum of different retail businesses turning over £1m+ in revenue participated in Veeqo’s survey. 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%.
Sellers from the worlds of skincare, cosmetics and health supplements all reported an increase in sales since the outbreak – whilst those selling automotive parts, stationary and clothing accessories were more likely to report a decrease in sales performance.
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. Other merchants reported sales increases for specific products and SKUs, as consumers seek to protect themselves from contracting the virus.
“We sell an amazing hand sanitiser called ‘Jao’ that makeup artists have been using for years,” said Alice Lennon from cosmetics retail business The Makeup Armoury. “Our sales for this product have been on the rise ever since the Government started telling everyone to keep their hands clean.”
Despite the increase in online sales, 80% of those 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.
“There’s no impact to our own e-liquid brands, as all raw materials are sourced from the UK,” said Jon Outram from vape retailer VGE. “However, we’re starting to see issues sourcing some of the hardware products we resell – as these are almost exclusively produced in Shenzhen, China.”
Steven Woodcock, Head of Ecommerce at Maidenhead Aquatics warned that customer expectations could be impacted if the government’s projections on staff sickness are accurate.
“Should we get to the point where 1 in 5 employees is off sick, we will not be able to keep up with demand,” he said. “Our ecommerce sales are likely to increase by up to 25% as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, but we currently have no additional resource to help with fulfilling customer orders if staff sickness becomes an issue.”
Some retailers are considering how they can help limit the spread of coronavirus as part of their day-to-day operation. ”We are changing our dispatch processes to ensure staff can’t pass on any viruses when packing,” said Simon Cavill from skincare company Bee Good. “We’ve started to wear disposable nitrile gloves when handling products, and are asking staff to monitor their temperatures during their shift.”
With the coronavirus outbreak still very much in its early days, many retailers fed back that it’s simply too soon to know for sure what the full impact will be.
Whilst the overwhelming feedback was that sourcing products from China is already a big problem for the UK retail industry, it could be many months before the full impact to online ecommerce businesses is known.
At Veeqo, we are on a mission to help retail brands provide the best experience to their customers everywhere. Our software helps retailers pick, pack and ship a high volume of orders to customers all over the world, and our omnichannel inventory and order management functionality keeps stock levels across multiple warehouses accurate & reliable.
Veeqo’s barcode scanning hardware provides digital picking and packing capabilities that result in a paperless warehouse where every order is shipped quickly and accurately. This, along with advanced software and smartphone apps are providing enterprise-level inventory and shipping functionality to retailers of any size.
For more information, visit www.veeqo.com
Duncan La Barre
Head of Marketing, Veeqo