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E-Commerce & Industry Trend during COVID-19
marketing covid-19 Fri, Apr 24, 2020
Repro APAC Written by Repro APAC

E-Commerce & Industry Trend during COVID-19

The COVID-19 has knocked the usual buying behavior out of it's rail. How people shop is changing significantly as time goes by. We have seen how the sales of the different industry changed in just 30 days timeframe. For example, the online Fashion Industry has been recorded to have taken a 30% drop in March is now seeing a strong recovery with more than average sales in April. This has driven the E-Commerce industry, more than ever, the need to be fluid and more responsive in terms of E-commerce strategies and communication with customers. 

Table of Contents

Virus Fear and the changes in shopping behavior

When news of the virus first reached a country, it spreads fear among the population and triggered panic buying behavior among the population. People start stocking up essential items such as food, masks, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper. This not limited to brick-and-mortar stores, but also online stores as well. 

As more information about the COVID-19 is available, another kind of fear appears. Is it safe to shop online since the virus can live on surfaces? Will the virus be residing on the package that arrives at the doorstep? This fear, however, was not long-lasting as both the CDC and WHO announced the likelihood of the virus being able to survive the delivery journey is relatively low. 

Changes in Shopping Behaviors

As mentioned earlier, as consumer behavior is changing rapidly as the situation involved, as for now, nothing is certain at this moment. That said, we do observe more mild and stable changes in certain industries to be, such as home improvement and office supplies

Age & Changes in Shopping Behavior

Age 18 ~ 24

Compared to other age groups, this group is the highest in terms of changes in how they spend their money. This might be due to the fact most people in this age group just started working and are more concerned about their financial ability. 

Age 25 ~ 40

People in this group seem to be the most affected by the COVID-19. They repeated how COVID-19 affected their purchase decision, where and how they shop, and products decision. They are also the age group that reported the highest in terms of grocery shopping. This might be due to the fact that most people in this age group are married and have small children at home. They are also usually the age group that cares for the elderly and the young. 

Age 41 ~ 54

Those who are in the age of 41 to 54 seem to be in the middle ground when compared to the younger generation and older generation

Age 55 & Above

Those who are above age 55 seems to be the least affected by the virus in term of spending behavior. Additionally, only 8% of this age group reported that they are shopping more frequently online. The drastic difference in this age group might be due to the fact they are less likely to be concerned with money. They are also less tech-savvy, which might lead to them being less exposed to news about COVID-19 reaching them. 


Genderwise, both gender seems to be equally impacted by the virus on purchase decision and their spending habit. However, males have been found to purchase more in anticipating the further spread of the virus while they also are found to purchase more beauty products and groceries than their female counterparts. 



Although the sentiment across industries is differ depending on the countries. The difference is negligible. For example, groceries are up regardless of countries, with most grocers reporting a spike in spending across all countries. On the other hand, furnishing and appliances have been shown to fall due to the closing of retail stores and being unable to see and feel before purchasing. 

As people are moving indoor, spending on home entertainment has been shown to increase across different countries as people are spending more time at home. The sports industry is also showing an increase in sales as people are looking to stay fit while working from home.   



Source: Visual Capitalist

In terms of products, products that fall under daily necessity, health and food are doing remarkably well. Specifically, products such as disposable gloves, bread machines, cough medicines, canned soup, packaged food, and rice are flying off the shelves. Based on the current product trend, consumers behavior mindset can be categorized as:

  • Indoor Centric - Spending more on home entertainment services like Netflix and Youtube. This mindset has also lead to many products that require one to go outdoor, dropped in sales. For example, cameras, swimwear, bridal wear, drone, and coolers have seen a drop in sales. 
  • Health Centric - This can be the purchase of hand sanitizer, masks, and also purchase off-the-shelf medicines such as cough medicine, vitamins, and pain relievers.
  • Indoor Exercise Fitness - Although the overall sales for fitness goods have increased, sales of certain items have decreased. Those are the sales of athletic shoes, gym bags, and golf clubs. In other words, fitness items that are usually used outdoor are experiencing a decrease in sales.
  • Necessities items come first  - This could be the purchase of bread machines, dish washing supplies, toilet papers, and dog food.


Consumer trend in ASEAN Countries

Until now, the reports shown have been mainly focused on the United States, Europe, China, and Japan. How about the E-commerce trend in ASEAN countries? The information is unfortunately very scarce in this part of the world, or they have been mixed within the more prominent reports. 


Malaysia Ecommerce COVID-19

Source: Janio Asia

Due to the Malaysia Movement Control (MCO), Malaysian have been banned and under lockdown for weeks. Other than going shopping for daily essentials, Malaysian citizen is banned from leaving their home. Because of this, 60% of the respondent has reported they have been shopping more online when compared to Pre-COV times. 

Like the rest of the world, Malaysian have been focusing on purchasing essential products, with 69% reported spending their money only those items. To Malaysians, essential products are groceries, snacks, personal hygiene, and preventive care products such as masks and sanitizers. That said, 27% of Malaysian are still continually making purchases of other non-essential items as long they come with promotion. 


As the Singapore government raise the DORSCON level orange and recently started the Circuit Breaker period, people are highly advised to stay at home and only go out for essential. Like other countries, online shopping, especially grocery sites, are experienced exponential growth in Singapore with small local grocers jumping in the E-commerce bandwagon. Indoor sporting goods and computers are also seeing a rise as people are increasingly staying indoor. As working from home becoming part of the “new norm” for Singaporean, sales of webcams increased by 82% sales in March.

On the other hand of the spectrum, non-essential such as luxury goods, clothing, and furniture are experiencing a slowdown. 


Compared to other nearby ASEAN countries like Malaysia and Singapore, Indonesia did not experience a strict lockdown in favor of a softer control measure to sustain the economy. The consumer’s habits here are very similar to other countries with increased spending on home entertainment, household supplies, and groceries. While on the other hand, like other countries, spending on apparel and footwear has seen a significant drop. 

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