In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has managed to transform how people live, shop, and interact with others. They are cautious about being socially active and disclaimer to follow social distancing, using sanitizers, wearing masks, etc. have somehow become a part and parcel of life now, gradually preparing everyone to brace for the ‘new normal’.
While the pandemic has affected business operations in almost every industry globally, e-commerce platforms are adopting new technologies in order to keep up with consumer needs and offer a hassle-free shopping experience. In India, many e-commerce furniture platforms are witnessing huge shifts in consumer behavior and frequently changing business trends. Let us explore how this pandemic is changing the e-commerce furniture industry.
COVID-19 shifting consumer behavior
According to an IBEF industry research report, Indian e-commerce was expected to grow to USD 200 billion by 2026. However, the lockdown, followed by unlocking phases saw the market landscape and demands of costumers indicating a huge rise, signifying that the sector will hit expected figures much sooner. Here are some basic consumer behavior changes that have been reported in the last few months through different surveys:
- 8 in 10 buyers have switched their shopping habits
- Over 70% of people are ordering products online that they were purchasing normally from stores
- Approximately 5 in 10 shoppers hesitate to visit stores now
- 80% of retailers believe that the virus spread has a deep impact on customer response
- 30% of businesses expect that the pandemic will cause their e-commerce establishment to grow
Among all this, a major setback being observed is a pause in production and diminished labor force after the lockdown. Some believe that these changes are temporary; with time the community will move swiftly beyond the survival mode and digital adaptation will bring huge transformations in the coming years.
New emerging world order in retail
Brands can no longer wait for the lockdown to be lifted completely and rely entirely on offline presence. They have to adjust to new norms of online marketing, a perspective that can increase sales and convert buyers. Retailers switching to online platforms should upgrade to an omnichannel ecosystem and propose innovative shopping experience by interpreting new buying behavior, and reallocate resources. So far, Coronavirus has disturbed the entire structure of how things were working conventionally. Like many others, the situation with the furniture industry is also changing.
Shutdowns, slow manufacturing, dump inventories, etc. in countries like China, Italy, and India during this pandemic have become common. Luckily, things are getting back on track as every country is recovering at its own pace from the crisis. India has stopped using, buying, and collaborating with Chinese products to benefit local brands while championing the ‘Vocal for Local’ initiative, part of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
E-commerce: A boon
E-commerce is now being widely considered a blessing during this pandemic. Companies that have an established online portal for furniture shopping gained huge benefits in fulfilling customer needs. Those who recently invested in digital platforms with an online presence are also trying to survive. According to some market survey reports, almost 33% surveyed said they avoid offline stores, while a significant percentage said they’ll avoid such stores in the future.
This is the time furniture brands, manufacturers, and retailers need to develop an effective supply chain response to alleviate risk and face any interruptions in the future.
Good time to make an online presence
The seriousness of the virus has urged people to stay home, leading to an increase in online sales. In the future, a boost in e-commerce growth rates is expected as online marketplaces will be less impacted than offline retailers. According to the SaaS platform provider, Quantum Metric, online sales increased 52% compared with the same time frame a year ago. Additionally, the number of online shoppers has increased by 8.8% since the pandemic began, pointing towards the increasing presence of online customers.
Be it a furniture brand or a retailer, it’s important to ensure that the website is equipped with features that can help in connecting the gap between online-offline like customization, 360-views, high-quality zoom-in facility, detailed shots, and much more.
Technology is boss
These days, technology is enabling working-from-home, impacting communication with friends, colleagues, and family, and becoming an integral part of online shopping. The latest addition is augmented reality (AR), an important component of online shopping through which buyers can make decisions from the comfort of home.
Alternative to the offline furniture market
The growing concerns around COVID-19 in India and other countries have induced big changes for customers and businesses. Every seller is seeking to provide a better customer experience and showcasing their products through virtual formats. Digital activities like podcasts, webinars, virtual product tours, showroom presentations, etc. have entered the realm of ‘new normal’ in the world, marking a tipping point for the adaption of e-commerce.
Today, we've learned that technology has made lives easier and better during this challenging time. With unlocking, the demand for furniture, appliances, electronics, etc. began to increase. However, people are spending money carefully and avoiding crowds, resulting in more online purchases.
In a nutshell, technology and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the global economy considerably. Every business around the globe is unfolding to accept this situation, and websites are taking over offline stores. Thus, the only available option for business survival during such times is to prioritize digital merchandising, stay strong, and mark an effective online presence.