As more consumers are ordered to stay home and retailers close stores during the coronavirus pandemic, many are going to shop online.
Food retailers are seeing significant spikes in website traffic during the 28-day period from February 25 to March 23. SimilarWeb Ltd. for the 20 grocery/fresh food retailers Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 database. March 16 saw the largest increase in online traffic.
As of March 23, website traffic to grocery store chain Kroger.com has tripled since February 25 and peaked on March 16, according to data from SimilarWeb.
For the three meal kit retailers that feature in the Top 1000 – BlueApron.com, SunBasket.com and PurpleCarrot.com – web traffic has also increased as more restaurants have closed and shoppers have to cook at home from March 12, and peaks on March 19.
Jewelry retailers, however, are suffering. Website traffic for the 47 Top 1000 online jewelry retailers has steadily declined since February 25, declining 4.2% for the week of March 8-14 compared to the March 1-7 average and declining 20.3% for the week of March 15. -21 compared to March 8-14.
In total, for the top 1,000 online retailers in North America based on global web sales, which Digital Commerce 360 tracks in its Top 1000 database, online traffic has also increased since the start of the pandemic.
However, just because more consumers are visiting online retail websites does not mean they are buying. For example, data from digital marketing agency Within reveals that sales at web-only retailers are down 54% and conversions are down 43% year over year, as of March 24.
Additionally, with news and government guidelines changing daily, buyer behavior does not always follow a distinct pattern. At online musical instrument and musical accessory retailer Sweetwater Sound, for example, traffic fluctuates with current events, says chief digital officer Mike Clem. When President Donald Trump addressed the nation about the coronavirus pandemic and declared it a national emergency, website traffic to Sweetwater.com plummeted March 11-13. But this plunge did not last long.
“Since last week, traffic and sales have picked up,” Clem says. Sales and order counts are now higher than usual for this time of year, Clem says without revealing more.
Two contradictory forces are at play here, Clem says. Shoppers aren’t buying out of general fear, but online shopping is growing due to store closures, he says.
Sweetwater.com has increases in sales, especially in states where stores are closed and where there are already few stores – such as the Great Plains – and in states that were hit early by the virus, such as New York, the California, Washington and Illinois, says Clem. Sweetwater is also selling a lot more streaming gear for churches, which was already a big segment of its business.
“AOV [average order value] has gone down a bit because customers are buying low-cost accessories that previously would have been purchased locally,” Clem says.
Also, at the end of March, Amazon.com Inc.’s shipping guarantee for music gear is about 4 weeks, a far cry from its usual 2-day promise, Clem says.
The Indiana-based Sweetwater headquarters is closed, with staff working from home. On its e-commerce site, Sweetwater warns that its warehouse is operating at reduced capacity and shipping is slower than usual. The retailer, however, encourages shoppers to always submit questions to customer service for technology support as its employees are online and working from home.
So far, there has been no change in customer service demand, Clem says.