Berlin – With the Coronacrisis all around us, we, too, see that limited social interaction changes our lives significantly. Many entrepreneurs are affected, the economic impact in the world gets bigger every day this crisis lasts. Many people ask us ‘what’s next?’ for e-commerce businesses like our clients have. To answer that question, our Managing Director Radboud Langenhorst shares our insights here.

By Radboud Langenhorst

This article shares some light on what developments we see in the German ecom market that we believe are important enough to explain since the first small business opportunities are arising. 

For this article, we have looked at cosmetics, food, fashion, apparel, home-decoration and lifestyle products as being the main sub-industries in which FSG is active. 

 Overall we see the following impact: 

  • All industries took huge turnover hits in the first  two weeks (w11 + w12) of nationwide Corona measures in Germany, except for food, which showed an immediate increase
  • In the last two weeks all of the above mentioned sub-industries are picking up (slightly) again, whereas food  and home-decoration are doing better than before Covid-19
  • For food this is mainly due to the amount of transactions, which in the first weeks had a higher share of existing customers ordering more, and in the last weeks a higher share of new customers 
  • For home-deco this is mainly driven by higher order values next to a higher share of new customers

To start top-down, we believe that the following macro-developments are the main drivers for the above mentioned: 

  • The share of people that buy online is increasing. This is a change of behavior of a smaller part of the population but still has a significant and long-term impact
  • People will buy more of the same type of products online. This is more of the same behavior of a big part of the population and has also a significant but a more temporary impact
  • People will buy different type of products online. This is also a change of behavior of a big part of the population and will have a significant and long-term impact

Let’s look at some e-commerce drivers that explain current performance further:

Overall, we see that the main reason for the turnover hits in the first weeks is less traffic to the different websites. This is understandable of course due to all major concerns and insecurities. At the same time, it is also due to some serious media budget cuts, which leads to double dipping and missing out on opportunities at hand. 

Next to that, the conversion rates for all industries stabilized or even improved a bit in the last two weeks. This is in general due to a higher online buying intention (see the above mentioned macro developments), but also due to less media spend invested in more expensive channels that are aiming more for brand awareness instead of sales like e.g. Youtube. In other words if you invest less in new traffic, your conversion rate goes up by definition, because you are left with the ones who know your brand and have shown interest before. 

Are there other metrics that back up the higher interest and online buying intention? Yes! Overall interest is increasing and can be concluded based on more time spend on all websites (except food, where it´s just about e.g. buying products NOW! ;)) and more pages viewed.

 

The only thing is that people have in fact more time and especially in Germany, this leads to more research and questions on-site, for customer service (our CS team has never been more busy!) and on social media. In addition, more competitors are being taken into consideration in the interest phase. This leads to longer customer journeys (+15%) and more touchpoints / channels in a single customer journey (+20%) throughout all sub-industries.

The fact that people have more time, is also visible when looking at some content consumption metrics. Social engagement KPI’s like shares, likes and clicks are going up significantly and also the amount of video consumption went up with almost 25 per cent! Looking at Newsletters, we see an open-rate increase of almost 20 per cent  in combination with a 15 per cent click-through-rate. So yes people consume more (non-commercial-) content and it makes a lot of sense to focus on this, especially now. 

So what to do with all this info? We have drawn the following conclusions and focus areas: 

  1. Avoid a vicious circle by cutting too much media budget, which will lead to an even higher loss of traffic. Just agree on/ and clearly communicate return-on-ad-spends that work for your business. Being present now, also through more pricey awareness channels like Social Paid or Youtube can pay off and will drive traffic, provided that you have enough relevant content of course
  2. And thus create lots of localized content for all relevant channels. Especially more general interest topics around production, fun-facts,  how-to´s, or tapping into moments like mother´s day will drive interest, engagement and over time sales. This does not have to be overproduced/ pricy, as long as it’s authentic and real. 
  3. Increase available resources for customer engagement and questions through all relevant channels. Having live-chat on the webshop of one of our clients is one of our biggest sales drivers at this moment.

As for all brands that are struggling in their home-market and are not yet live in Germany: the cards are being reshuffled now. Meaning some competitors are seriously cutting down, some are going all-in with endless promotions and some will leave the market. In our opinion we see opportunities to move in now, since all competitors will start investing again after Corona (high CPA’s!), consumers will invest more at first in things they could not do like travel and going out and retail-presence is no longer a competitive advantage, meaning if your product, webshop and shipping policies are good; you are as good or better as anyone else!

Curious on how we do this at FSG? Please reach out so that we can organize a nice chat via zoom, or hangouts, or skype, or teams. 

Bleib gesund!