Whilst perhaps not the most surprising change in user behaviour, the huge spike in demand for online supplies, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, caught out the most established food businesses. Even the likes of Waitrose, Sainsbury's and Ocado struggled to meet customer expectations.
As their websites and apps crashed under the weight of visitors, the big supermarkets raced to make changes to their eCommerce platforms adding new functionality such as virtual queues and basket caps. Although their online stores had to temporarily close, to allow updates to the code that supports their bespoke eCommerce solutions, ultimately they were able to continue trading.
Unfortunately, many food retailers behind the curve in their eCommerce efforts, simply could not find a solution to the new challenges they faced, leaving large numbers no choice but to ‘shut up shop’. Some permanently.
In contrast, more savvy food businesses, who had the foresight to invest in their eCommerce strategy, have successfully turned adversity into opportunity. One such example is specialist flour millers and bakers Doves Farm.
With the nation confined to their homes due to the COVID-19 lockdown, a rise in home baking saw demand for flour skyrocket. With supermarket shelves bare, bakers turned online to source the key ingredient which saw Google searches for the term 'flour' increase by almost 500%.
For many producers, the issue in fulfilling this demand hasn’t been their ability to mill enough flour - but having the eCommerce capabilities to sell it.
Doves Farm had no such issues, however, thanks to the implementation of 9xb’s proprietary eCommerce platform Peracto. Despite visitor numbers to the Doves Farm website increasing by 350%, regularly peaking at a massive 1,400 concurrent users, Peracto’s renowned scalability and stability proved invaluable in ensuring their online store continued to trade..
As well as providing Dove’s Farm with the confidence that their website would withstand the huge spikes in traffic, Peracto’s flexible product management tools also enabled them to quickly pivot their product offering, helping them to ensure stock was shared in a fair and accessible way.
Whilst changes to their product catalogue reduced average order values, the overall impact saw a massive increase in customer acquisition, with transactions up 750%.
These incredible stats align with findings from consumer insight experts Nielsen who estimate that 600,000 households tried online shopping for the first time in March 2020 - many of whom are likely to make the switch permanent.
Speaking about the impact of this surge in online sales 9xb’s Marketing Director Mark Pickering said:
“This crisis has shown that consumers are prepared to buy all manner of goods over the internet, from food and groceries to bicycles and building materials. As the spike caused by Coronavirus subsidies, eCommerce will continue to grow and business without the right strategy may not survive. Putting your faith in the right eCommerce platform, therefore, is crucial.”
Lockdown, it seems, has had the desired impact on Coronavirus but, as far as consumers are concerned, the shift to online shopping continues to spread.
9xb is an experienced eCommerce agency, specialising in eCommerce store development, conversion rate optimisation, hosting, monitoring and support for leading merchants including food manufacturers including Doves Farm and English Cheesecake Company.