All around the world, countries, states, provinces, counties, cities, and even towns are working together to “flatten the curve” of the novel coronavirus. The CDC has recommended social distancing and isolation to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness associated with the virus. As a result, numerous businesses have closed, and consumers are relying on online orders more than ever. Below, you can learn more about how the virus may affect the fulfillment industry in the future.
The Current Impact of COVID-19 on the Biggest Online Retailers
Amazon, which is by far the world’s largest online retailer, has made some significant changes to its operations in order to ensure the prompt delivery of everything from groceries to toilet tissue and hand sanitizer. In mid-March, the retail giant announced that it would stop accepting any product not considered a medical or household necessity to its warehouses around the world. This simply means that in order to accommodate the rise of online shopping and the global need for necessities, Amazon has decided to make room in its warehouse for the vast numbers of products required to fill the need. Other online retailers have followed suit.
How Online Retailers are Struggling
Though major retailers like Amazon have both the money and the means to make major changes like this in the blink of an eye, other online retailers who do not provide “essentials” have seen a few changes, too. Though their sales have also skyrocketed, they have experienced two serious issues: carrier delays that result in late shipments and an inability to acquire sufficient products from manufacturers and vendors due to facility closures around the world. In some situations, warehouse shelves are all but bare, and in others, retailers are warning consumers who order their products that shipments are likely to be delayed due to carriers’ struggle to keep up with demand.
How the Current Issues Might Change Fulfillment in the Future
The pandemic won’t last forever, and there will come a time when businesses and consumers can start venturing out into the world once again to shop for the things they want and need. Nevertheless, the virus may very well have a lasting impact on the fulfillment industry. Some possibilities include:
- A residual uptick in online shopping. Though more than 80% of consumers do at least some of their shopping online, many consumers have started doing most of their shopping online. It is highly likely that many of these shoppers will continue to order products online, even after the pandemic, due to the convenience.
- Small online retailers might struggle. Some of the online retailers are struggling to keep products in stock due to manufacturing delays or high demand. As a result, consumers are flocking to other, larger retailers, and it is very likely that the smallest businesses may have a harder time regaining momentum. Good marketing strategies and business skills will be required for growth.
- Companies providing essential products may see no residual effects. Many online retailers – including wine delivery, meal kits, and household essentials providers – will likely see no residual negative effects as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the uptick in online shopping is likely to remain, at least to a degree, propelling these retailers forward.
Things will go back to normal with time, but for some order fulfillment companies and many online retailers, the term “normal” may need to be redefined. Though it is almost impossible to predict the future with any accuracy, it is expected that ecommerce will continue to thrive, and it may even do so at a much faster rate than expected.