Every two weeks, we’ll ask our experts to share their opinions on hot topics in fintech. This week, Paul Marcantonio assesses the impact COVID-19 is having on eCommerce.
As I’m sure you’re aware – because no one seems to be able to talk about anything else – COVID-19 has seriously impacted the world economy, leading to a mass migration into eCommerce. From self-isolation to social distancing, we’re facing unprecedented restrictions on our favourite activities. Places to shop, eat, and get fit have been closed by the authorities for the foreseeable future.
What does this mean for eCommerce?
COVID-19 speeds up the migration to eCommerce
As the world sits at home, the commercial landscape is changing. Everything – and I mean everything – has gone online. We’re working from home, we’re learning from home, we’re even going to the pub at home. It’s not limited to eCommerce. The very foundations of our world have been irreversibly altered.
Estimates vary on how many people are working from home, but it’s safe to say that if you can – you are. In a recent episode of CNN’s Reliable Sources, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson confirmed that mobile internet volumes are up 40% on their network. Online conference calls and virtual meetings are up by over 100%.
Many companies are only now adjusting their processes to enable employees to work from home. A recent Guardian article predicts that this is the beginning of a permanent change, as “many employees for companies who have sent all staff home are already starting to question why they had to go in to the office in the first place.”
And since people are working from home, they’re consuming from home, too. According to Quantum Metrics, there’s been an 8.8% increase in online consumers since the COVID-19 crisis began.
Work hard, play hard. After a long day at the (home) office, it’s no surprise more and more people are tuning in to their favourite shows on digital streaming services and playing video games online. In fact, BBC News reports that Netflix is cutting its streaming quality in Europe for 30 days to cope with demand.
Gamers, meanwhile, have besieged Steam, with GeekWire reporting “an all-time peak number of users online during the weekend of March 14, hitting a high of 20.3 million simultaneous players on the afternoon of March 15”. In-game purchases and downloads are likely to follow these intense gaming sessions, giving the eCommerce side of things a serious boost.
Opportunities for continued eCommerce growth
Finextra reported last week that Costa Coffee has switched entirely to cashless transactions in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. We’ll be seeing more and more companies introducing digital-only payments as these new consumer trends take hold. And sooner rather than later, merchants are going to need a reliable payments partner to take advantage of the emerging eCommerce opportunities to grow their business.
Most people are creatures of habit, and the habits formed in self-isolation will stay with us long after COVID-19 fades into a distant memory. We’ve established new buying patterns, new working patterns, new learning and new consumption patterns. The possibilities are endless.