Every business today is trying to figure out how consumer behaviour will change once the lockdown opens and which products and services will see a spurt in sales to enable them to revive demand. As India opened up for business, partially in some and fully in other zones, the consumer demand gives a sense of the categories that continue to be a hit with consumers. The third edition of the nationwide lockdown started from May 4 that divided the country into three zones, red, green and orange, based on the severity of the COVID-19 spread.
People are still preferring to order online rather than going out. Therefore, there has been a spurt in online sales. No wonder, overall e-commerce sector showed a good sign of recovery in the first week of lockdown 3.0. The overall industry has reached 30 per cent of its pre-lockdown order volumes. It is important to remember that e-commerce players are permitted to resume operations in the green and orange zones, the business will continue to take a major hit as over 40 per cent of the e-tailers are based in metropolitan cities which are currently in the red zone.
The findings are based on e-commerce-focussed SaaS platform provider Unicommerce report on performance of e-commerce sector in the lockdown 3.0 phase. In fact, online fashion sector that includes apparel, footwear, bags, and accessories suffered the maximum impact due to the coronavirus pandemic. The sector is one of the major contributors to India's e-commerce volume and growth. During the first seven days of lockdown 3.0, the sector has recovered 30 per cent of its pre-lockdown order volumes.
"The sector is expected to see further growth in the current week, as it took a couple of days for retailers to get back to the business. The fashion sector is expected to see the next big jump, once e-commerce operations begin in metro cities considering all metro cities are presently under the red zone," said the report.
Electronic appliances saw a substantial increase in order volume too, with the recovery rate of 35 per cent in the first week of lockdown 3.0. It's also interesting to see a 5-7 per cent jump in the average order size compared to the week before the lockdown was announced in March.
Both e-pharma and the online grocery sector witnessed a massive spike of 100 per cent during the first two stages of lockdown, with the average order size increasing by another 20 per cent. However, there has been a negligible change in the number of orders in the last one week, beyond a spike of 7-8 per cent in the overall order size as people may have already stocked up medicines and grocery items. The lockdown is expected to result in a major boost for the sector in the current financial year.
The prescription eyewear comes under the essential category and online eyewear players continued to operate during the lockdown as well. During the lockdown, the number of orders for eyewear decreased by over 60 per cent, despite multiple promotions. However, the order volume has increased by 70-75 per cent compared to a week before lockdown 3.0. This shows how consumers were not aware that eyewear products operate under the essentials category.
As people work from home and are staying indoors, several businesses are anticipating categories like cosmetics and formal wear to see tepid growth. The report reiterates the same. In the first week of lockdown 3.0, the cosmetics sector has not shown any significant signs of recovery, the sector has only been able to regain 15-20 per cent of its order volumes. In fact, while certain cosmetics were under essentials, the order volume declined by almost 90 per cent during the time period. The sector is expected to recover but will take a slightly longer time than usual.
"Even though the government has permitted certain activities, consumers are still wary of leaving the house and have adopted social distancing as a way of life," said Kapil Makhija, CEO, Unicommerce. He added that the essentials category has witnessed a major surge during the lockdown and will continue to see increase in the overall demand.
"With certain relaxation in the non-essential sale in the green and orange zones, we are witnessing a similar growth in the other sectors. E-commerce industry is expected to see a steep increase in orders in the long run as the consumers would adjust to the new norms post the lockdown," said Makhija.