Coronavirus Ecommerce Data, Impact & Resources: COVID-19 Updates

Aaron Orendorff

by Aaron Orendorff

May. 17 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has descended. And we all have questions.

To help your ecommerce businesses navigate these uncertain times, we’ve put together this repository of in-house and aggregated data.

We’ve also assembled a tactical guide with 10 examples from ecommerce brands succeeding amidst the challenges.

Here, we’ll be posting regular updates within three sections:

  1. Ecommerce Coronavirus Data
  2. Shipping & Fulfillment Providers
  3. Resources for Financial Assistance

Despite positive signs at the global level, supply chain issues and questions about what it means to be essential swirl around online retailers. In the US, recession language has shifted from “if” to “what shape?” And, fears surrounding COVID-19 have wreaked havoc on wider markets.

The good news is numerous sources all report ecommerce fairing far better as consumers turn to online shopping in the short-term.

But what exactly does that look like by the numbers? And how can it help you craft a strategy to not just survive … but thrive?

Data on Ecommerce & Coronavirus’ (COVID-19) Effects

As an index, we’ve compiled data from 20 accounts at a ~$50M annual spend rate.

All metrics have been standardized to one-day attribution and separated into two sets: Mar. 1-7 (before quarantine for a baseline) versus Mar. 8 onward (after).

As of Sunday, May 17 …

  • Revenue: +87.38%
  • Spend: +46.85%
  • ROAS: +27.10%
  • CPM: -22.96%
  • CPC: -17.95%
  • CTR: -19.09%

Below is each metric’s daily value along with percent changes compared to the weekly average during the baseline period:

These trends are not only more accurate than initial data suggested but also more encouraging.

So too was The New Consumers’ report from Rakuten Intelligence that found US ecommerce spending up ~36% YoY, “almost twice the growth rate it had been generating this year.” Similarly, The New York Times’ reported online sales rose ~38% YoY in April while ShipHero and Klaviyo put MoM sales up between 88% and 26-34% respectively.

No chart, however, hit quite as hard as 2PM, Inc’s:


Categorical data merged from a host of sources reveals both disparities as well as one overarching refrain: whether temporary gold rush or enduring step change …

Now is an unprecedented moment. Now is ecommerce’s time to act.

For a full list of sources and links, see the footnotes section at the bottom of this article

Andrew Faris, the CEO of 4x400 — Common Thread Collective’s holding company that acquires and grows DTC brands — has been sharing his front-line experiences on the Ecommerce Playbook Podcast:

Andrew Faris

“It is a fact that constraints generate creativity.

“Within this new world that we live in — for this moment, for however long it lasts — I’m trying to be clearheaded about the reality that the constraints we have are just going to force us to be more creative about the solutions that we put into place.

“What I fundamentally believe is that there will be a point where things will come back to relatively normal. I want to stay in the game long enough to get there. So I’m focusing less on growth and more on cash, more on profitability.”

The question becomes …

What to Do with COVID-19 Ecommerce Data? Strategy

Broadly speaking, the data paints a logical chain of events:

  • Consumer confidence plummeted
  • As a result, conversion rates declined
  • With traffic less valuable, advertisers pulled be spend
  • On large, auction-based networks (like Facebook and Google) as competition decreased so did prices — e.g., CPM, CPC, but not necessarily CAC

To greater or lesser degrees, these effects come to life in relation to each industry’s demand — its felt necessity in the current moment.

Still, broad trends and vertical statistics will only get you so far. What you must know is your own data.

To take hold of business-by-business metrics, we’ve created individual dashboards for each of CTC’s growth-team client with two views of their funnel.

Cost Funnel

  1. Cost per website purchase
  2. Cost per website checkout initiated
  3. Cost per website add to cart
  4. Cost per outbound click
  5. CPM (cost per 1k impressions)
  6. Outbound CTR
  7. ROAS

Conversion Funnel

  1. Website purchases
  2. Website checkouts initiated
  3. Website adds to cart
  4. Outbound clicks
  5. Impressions

In this mock-up, notice the red cells in particular — that’s where both the challenge and opportunity lies:

Cost Funnel and Conversion Funnel Examples

To do the same, pull day-over-day data into a Google Sheet from the last ~2-3 weeks. Accounts that have seen a 10% or more decrease should be able to pinpoint what day that drop began, typically between Mar. 8-10.

Divide the days into two sets: Before Drop versus After Drop. Average the daily metrics within each set in a new tab and use %-change formulas to compare them:

Comparing the two data sets will tell you exactly where your funnel is breaking: i.e., either (1) when costs per event or action jump significantly or (2) when conversion actions suddenly decline.

Cherene Aubert

“For businesses feeling coronavirus’ impact,” notes Cherene Aubert, Director of Client Marketing Strategy, “most visitors are clicking but not adding-to-cart at the same rate as before. Once they add to cart, checkouts and purchases are happening at the same rate. They’re likely window shopping and not getting much further than the home page or product page.”

“Improving add-to-carts is a top priority by:

  • Honing and crafting an enticing offer
  • Capturing emails at the top of the funnel
  • Customizing welcome emails to drive first purchases
  • And, testing the diversion of more budget to remarketing

Search Engine Marketing

“The temptation is to tighten or pull budgets as a knee-jerk reaction,” says Tony Chopp, CTC’s Director of Paid Search. “In some cases, we’re adjusting overall spend. For others, and especially for any account with automated bidding, we’re adding seasonality adjustments week-by-week.

“By manually entering previous days as conversion-rate baselines, automated bidding models stand a far greater chance of maintaining their targets.”

Shipping and Fulfillment Providers

With Amazon “temporarily disabling” non-essential products from entering its fulfillment centers, delaying non-essential shipping, and state-by-state “Shelter in Place” restrictions, we’ve reached out directly to a number of 3PLs.

None report interruptions in domestic service (last updated: May. 17, 6:00am PST). International shipping to affected countries has been suspended by the USPS and severely limited by other carriers country-by-county.

The links below will take you to each provider’s “Status” page:

Shopify Fulfillment

ShipBob

ShippingEasy

STORD

ShipperHQ

ReTrans Freight

✅ ShipHero, Promofill, and LeftBrain (confirmed via DM)

Lumi

Also of note is Lumi’s What is the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission on Packages?

While providers are still operational, we suggest reaching out directly. Work stoppages could significantly slow down delivery times and need to be communicated with customers sooner rather than later.

Resources for Financial Assistance

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

“We know that your business may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. We’ve heard that a little financial support can go a long way, so we are offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time.”

Ad Credits for Google Ads Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

“We want to help alleviate some of the cost for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to stay in touch with their customers during this challenging time. That’s why we’re giving our SMBs worldwide $340 million in ad credits, which can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across our Google Ads platforms.”

Credit Card Relief for Coronavirus Affected Businesses

“Fortunately, most major credit card issuers are responding by offering assistance to their customers. Goldman Sachs, which issues the Apple Card, is allowing customers to skip their March payments without accruing any interest fees. Amex and Capital One are following suit with similar programs for eligible cardholders.”

Shopify’s Government Relief Programs for Small Businesses

“Governments around the world are rolling out financial relief measures and programs to support small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, you'll find a list of available programs in different countries to help raise their visibility and keep you informed.”

Remote Work & COVID-19 Prevention

As of Mar. 13, all of Common Thread Collective will be working remotely.

Because the majority of our time with clients is already remote, just expect to see a few additional “screens” when you join any regularly scheduled meetings.

For your own organization, here are a few links to help you navigate:

With active members across a host of ecommerce groups — Ecommerce Fuel, Shopify Plus’ Facebook Community, LeanLuxe, and 2PM’s Polymathic — we’ll be paying attention to noticeable shifts or activity.

(Note: Many of these groups are closed, so we’ll only share anonymized commentary, tips, and links.)

Things are changing fast. We’re keeping a pulse on the best sources in the industry, distilling them, and delivering it to you as soon as it becomes available.

Sources and Links

1. ShipBob (MoM)

2. ShipHero (MoM)

3. Attentive (MoM)

4. Stackline (YoY)

5. Common Thread Collective (MoM)

6. Klaviyo (MoM)

7. Adobe (MoM)


Aaron Orendorff

Aaron is the VP of Marketing at CTC. Previously the Editor in Chief of Shopify Plus, his content has appeared on Forbes, Mashable, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, The New York Times, and more. Connect with Aaron on Twitter or LinkedIn (especially if you want to talk about bunnies or #LetsGetRejected).