Covid-19: How retailers in the UK and Ireland can learn from Italy’s online sales surge

As the fashion industry continues to feel the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, buying behaviours are changing, with many consumers going online to shop while they have limited access to physical stores.

Data emerging from Italy, which is considered to be several weeks ahead of the UK in terms of the advancement of the outbreak, suggests there could upcoming boom in online sales in the UK and Ireland. Between 24 February and 1 March, online sales of consumer products in the country soared by 81 percent compared to the same week last year, according to data analytics company Nielsen.

Ciaran Bollard, CEO and founder of Dublin-based e-commerce software firm Kooomo said retailers should prepare their online stores for these potential surges in customer traffic and make sure their business processes can cope.

“The impact of coronavirus on the global economy is accelerating the need to start delivering products to customers who cannot leave their homes,” Bollard said. “Retailers that have invested in omnichannel solutions and have in-store stock available online will help to ease the negative effect of no footfall on the high street. I know some retailers considering resupplying the main delivery warehouse with shop stock to help fulfil this demand.”

UK and Ireland prepare for surge in online orders

Bollard also advised retailers to be open and transparent with customers about any potential disruptions to deliveries. “Although this will put pressure on retailers, there are great opportunities for those that rise to the challenge and hopefully the UK and Irish markets can learn from the situation unfolding across Italy,” he said.

“Where the supply chain is affected for home deliveries, customers are willing to have a longer delivery window to avoid going to stores. Therefore, we would advise retailers to make sure communications with customers are accurate and transparent, as it is crucial to ensure delivery timings on an online store are updated to avoid disappointment.”

The advice on transparency echoes guidance given last week by retail data company Edited which highlighted five strategies fashion retailers could implement to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses. Edited also this week published a podcast on the same subject with its analysis director Rebecca Milne.

Bollard continued: “This is an ever-evolving situation as the world is grappling to contain the virus and there will be few regions that won’t be affected by coronavirus, but some regions are more affected than others. Stockpiling and substitute stock supplies could be a helpful move to alleviate possible supply chain problems. Smart merchandising can also be used to help retailers focus on selling with lots of stock and no issues in the supply chain.

“Although it may take some planning and changing of existing processes, online retailers may be able to mitigate the serious financial losses that are affecting their businesses and negatively impacting national economies by using the latest e-commerce technology and responding proactively to this sharp rise in customer demand.”

Click here to see the latest updates on how Covid-19 is affecting the international fashion industry

Photo credit: Mentatdgt, Pexels


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