How COVID-19 will change ecommerce and drive greater adoption from brand leaders to meet changing consumer behaviour

By Josi Mathar


The current landscape is united in one picture: the empty supermarket shelf. Consumer behaviour is changing at unequalled speed with growth in online shopping putting unprecedented strain on supply chains. The time is now for brand leaders to take action and understand how to increase online product visibility. Understand the levers and action you can take today for your brand to capture and grow market share.



Demand for online grocery is accelerating


Looking at Google Trend data for the UK over the past seven days, key words such as online shopping and food delivery peak in light of growing public awareness to avoid outdoor spaces and larger group gatherings. Nielsen’s most recent analysis mirrors the observation: along six consumer behaviour thresholds, the reachers have identified early signs of consumer spending trends for health supplies or pantry staples as well as the changing nature of purchases being made. 

What’s more, these changes are observed across multiple countries and are believed to last well beyond the current crisis; even Southern Europe is discovering online shopping while living under quarantine. Signs of online shopping going mainstream was also noted by research firm Gordon Haskett: American shoppers surveyed on March 13th, one in three had bought food online compared to the previous week with 41% that had been surveyed doing so for the first time.



Stress test for the retail supply chain

Further trend analysis shows that online shopping is being adopted consistently indicating a move beyond just a first time shop. Retailers are acting fast to meet demand and invest in the infrastructure to cope with increased yet accidental stockpiling. According to Kantar’s research, shoppers are adding only a few more items each time they shop rather than the perceived bulk buying behaviour for example, only 6% of liquid soap and 3% of additional dry pasta respectively had been taken home in unusual quantities. With decreasing appetite to eat out, a large proportion of food consumption will be picked up by supermarkets both in store and online.

panic buyers stress test retail and online digital shelf space.


How brand strategists can increase product visibility on the digital shelf

Navigating the digital landscape brand managers and business owners alike are challenged more than ever before to make informed decisions. However, where to get the right data is often the first obstacle. With ecommerce analytics, C-suite leaders will understand their brand’s visibility online and determine the actions needed across their teams to increase the likelihood of being found on the digital shelf. Put simply, knowing how your brands perform across individual retailers websites is imperative to the success of your business in today’s buying climate.  

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Enable your front line staff to be effective omnichannel warriors 

Fast shifts in buying behaviour has seen brick and mortar shops experiencing a shock to their internal systems. The omnichannel shopper is a reality that requires staff to transfer their in shop knowledge to meet the mounting demand of online grocery shopping. Empowering your Key Account Managers to have full visibility to make effective decisions must be one of the key goals for business leaders driven to win online today. From product compliance to appearing in shoppers search results on retailer’s websites, the relevant category insights software can help you maintain commercial performance in times of volatility. 



Why understanding your brand's performance online matters

Do you currently have a complete picture of how your brand is doing across the internet? How certain can you be that people looking to buy groceries online find you with their first search on Tesco, Amazon or Carrefour? As a leader you want to ensure that your sales and marketing teams reach brand consistency online collaboratively to maximise profit. Yet without a detailed overview of exactly how your products perform online, brands increase the danger of preventing sales and de-valuing brand execution especially with newbies to online shopping. 


Don’t underestimate the role of the shopper’s feedback: a survey conducted by messaging platform Podium has shown that around 60% of consumers are looking at online reviews at least weekly, with a staggering 93% stating that online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. Zendesk, a customer service platform, concluded that 86% of shoppers' decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. Online grocery enables brands to foster relationships with their consumers more than ever. Monitor reviews, react to feedback imminently to diminish any negative impact; use reviews to scale sought after items or resolve product issues flagged. Additionally, these insights can prove to be an optimisation goldmine to any NPD launch you may plan now or in future. NPD can also be closely monitored with e.fundamentals’ Execute your Category Vision enabling a quick glance view of new product performance drivers. 

Download now: Free NPD Toolkit for a truly distinguished product launch 


The short term fixes you can implement today


  1. Understand your brand’s product availability. As the demand for online grocery is surging, knowing what retailers have available will help you plan effectively to allocate stock accordingly. However, also develop contingency plans to determine how to reduce product lines if needed. 
  2. Invest in sponsored content advisedly. Increase your brand visibility with paid for advertising through retailers choosing the right keywords. For example, boost your brand awareness if not for the first shop consumers undertake but the second where luxury, non- essential items start to enter the basket more frequently. Anticipate that with increased cooking at home, a regular pasta pesto may soon evolve into a pasta vongole. 
  3. Assess the promotional landscape. While keeping an overview of your competitors’ product offers, stop any of your own promotions if your stock is in danger of depletion. Monitor prices across your 3P sellers to avoid overpricing - under no circumstances do you want to appear profiteering. 
  4. Take advantage of customer reviews. Smart brands know that responding to shoppers' reviews in real time can separate the wheat from the chaff. What’s more, positive reviews can act advantageous in online search sending positive signals to both search engines and customers new and retained. Negative reviews should be escalated immediately especially with new entrants to the online shopping arena. 



Acting fast, not slow 

Growth for online grocery shopping is currently outpacing supply across  many retailers as short term changes of consumer behaviour put present systems to the test. For confident members of C-Suites, recognising and acting on the opportunity to radically optimise their ecommerce strategy will serve brands well beyond a short term rush.  While the boomlet may not last for some industries, the crisis will give a permanent upgrade to online companies with fast adoption to online grocery shopping at the forefront. C-Suites need to look to invest and understand the drivers of digital shelf performance. Equipping your sales and marketing teams with the critical insights to make impactful decisions, brand owners ensure their products cut through the noise of shoppers stocking their “pandemic pantry”. 

Have you watched our latest webinar? Listen to our expert Becky Curtis-Hall and AB World Foods Alice Gheissari discuss the changes occurring in market and how brands can adapt for the medium to long term. Available to watch on demand here.

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Contact us to discuss how to get the data that you need right now and in future to outpace the competition in the race to win over your customers attention online. 


Tags: eCommerce strategy, Category Strategy, Leadership, Brand Management

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