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Lockdown cements UK eCommerce buying habits

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Just 16 per cent UK consumers intend to return to their old shopping habits post-lockdown, signifying the lasting change that COVID-19 will have on the retail industry and the cementing of eCommerce habits.

The COVID, Commerce and the Consumer research conducted by Wunderman Thomson – which surveyed 2,000 UK consumers on their shopping experience during the COVID-19 pandemic – found that the need for safety during lockdown has resulted in a huge shift in shoppers’ habits and traits with a particular trend towards online channels.

Online purchasing accounted for 62% of all shopping during lockdown, compared to 43% before the pandemic. Although online shopping is predicted to account for over half (51%) of all spend moving forward, it will remain higher than it was before the pandemic. Fear of contracting the virus will also play its part in driving online spend with 48% of shoppers scared about shopping in-store.

Shopping habits may have had to change during lockdown, but familiar factors have emerged: 61% of shoppers identified free delivery as a key purchase driver, with availability (57%) and price (53%) coming in as close second and third choices. Yet, when asked what consumers would like to see change most in their online shopping experience, free returns (28%) topped the list.

Amazon’s share in the eCommerce market swelled with over a third (35%) of all online shopping conducted through the marketplace during the lockdown period, reinforcing the company as a big retail winner in the wake of the pandemic. One-in-five (20%) said their net intention to purchase with Amazon post-COVID-19 will increase, despite 21% of people expressing worry about Amazon’s ever-increasing dominance.

Not the sole retail winner, Tesco led the battle of the supermarkets and saw a significant 23% improvement in net perception; while the net intention to purchase post-COVID-19 rose by 9%. Competitors Sainsbury’s and Morrisons both saw a 12% net rise in positive perception respectively.

Other winners include corner shops with a quarter (27%) net increase in positive public perception as they played a pivotal role in providing essential goods. In comparison, the Government’s net change in perception decreased by 30% while the NHS is up during the COVID-19 outbreak by a significant 62%.

Hugh Fletcher, Global Head of Consultancy and Innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said: “COVID-19 was always going to have a big impact on retail, particularly on high-street brands; in many cases, retailers have had to shift entire operations online. With many consumers looking for assurances on safety and reliability, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see the likes of Amazon and the ‘big four’ supermarkets resonate highly with their ability to provide services to consumers in the way they want. They also all adapted quickly by emphasising stock availability, competitive pricing and customer safety. But corner shops played a vital role too. As consumers look to keep their purse strings relatively tight and as a more digital-first retail future materialises, the brands and retailers that are able to pivot their business models to accommodate this rise in online spend will ultimately get a greater share of shoppers’ wallet.”

On consumers’ desire for digital, one in five (21%) would like more of their products to be digital and instantly downloadable, a noticeable influence of lockdown measures as shoppers have been forced to purchase various goods without leaving home.

The impact of COVID-19 may also be a tipping point for ethical concerns with nearly three-quarters (73%) wishing that retailers and brands would offer better environmental practices. Over half (55%) of consumers say that a company’s ethics and morals play an important part in their purchase decisions, another element that retailers need to contend with as the ‘new normal’ becomes a reality.

Download The COVID, Commerce and the Consumer report

Coronavirus requires increased speed and agility in the retail supply chain

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

A major study from the University of Warwick has provided insights into how retailers have responded to COVID-19 crisis, highlighting a need for human intervention with existing processes unable to keep up with changes in the markets.

The research, conducted by the university in partnership with Blue Yonder, concludes that, going forward, future systems will need to be more robust and responsive, to increase speed and agility in the supply chain.

The pandemic means both online and physical retailers have experienced a combination of unprecedented demand for some particular products, whilst no demand for others. Many stores have been forced to close, or adapt their operations to accommodate social distancing. Where possible, there has been a shift to online shopping, but this is not always possible and presents its own operational challenges.

The study gathered insights from 105 different retailers from Europe, Asia and the Americas who offered a glimpse into their survival and navigation of the COVID-19 crisis. The study found that:

  • The majority (61%) of retailers used inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19. Supply chain processes and systems were effective, but more than half (58%) of retailers said a high degree of manual intervention was required to respond to the fluctuation in demand and supply.
  • Workforce issues were dominant issues for retailers with 59% of warehouse and 48% store operatives being affected by quarantine or illness. This often resulted in the closure of online operations and the need to recruit temporary staff.
  • Retailers were polarised in their treatment of supplier payments, with 37% delaying payments and 30% making early payments.

The survey was administered on-line by Qualtrics in late April 2020. It was targeted at senior executives in retail supply chains, in Europe, Asia and the Americas. 105 responses were received with relatively equal distribution across the regions.

Jan Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at WMG, University of Warwick, said: “Using inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19 was the most common strategy deployed by retailers. This provides the greatest certainty of supply but comes at a cost. In contrast, only just over a quarter (29%) of retailers relied on suppliers with more agile manufacturing and distribution networks, which is a potentially more resource efficient and resilient response.

“With 75 to 80% of products seeing a demand fluctuation, retailers were slightly better at responding to decreases rather than increases in demand. Whilst retailers found that their supply chain processes and systems to be effective in responding to the demand fluctuations, many were still dependent on the human touch.

“From warehouse and store operatives being affected by quarantine or illness to an over-dependence on human intervention within supply chain planning, COVID-19 has highlighted the human vulnerabilities across retail supply chains.”

Wayne Snyder, Vice President Retail Strategy, EMEA at Blue Yonder, added: “Early indications in Asia show that customers have been most supportive of those retailers they deemed to have responded best to the crisis and we’d expect that pattern to follow across Europe and the US. A critical learning for retailers is the need to invest in creating supply chains with greater flexibility, visibility and automation. Here technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a key role in helping retailers navigate future disruption, whilst still meeting customers’ expectations.”


How online shopping has developed during the coronavirus pandemic

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Once you think online shopping couldn’t get any more convenient during the Coronavirus pandemic, many major retailers have provided us with yet more ways to shop more efficiently — after all, 70 per cent of UK sales are placed on smartphones.

These additions could be understood partly as a way to combat the need to return goods once they’ve been received, and a few brands have resorted to using some savvy technology to combat the cost of reimbursing customers, as well as improving their shopping experience.   

By looking at recent research, it seems free shipping is more important to a customer than fast delivery. Because free delivery is a common option for many online retailers, this results in increased sales — and increased returns. Returns, of course, lessen any doubts you might have about potential clothes you’re interested in, ordering more to choose from in different colours and sizes.

However, for retailers, it can cost double the amount for something to be returned than it does for delivery. And if returns are balancing orders, there’s going to be a problem for retailers. 

This piece looks at different ways retailers are mitigating returns rates by helping you find the perfect garments. This is certainly important for retailers during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing is currently making returns harder for customers and retailers alike, therefore, it is important retailers can cater to customers during these unprecedented times.  

From being able to virtually try your shoes on at Nike, to using a picture on ASOS to determine where that dress you saw online is from, it has become even simpler to get the product we really want. 


Five months into 2020 and already one retailer in particular has innovated online shopping. Anyone who’s not a smaller size will empathise with the frustration that online shopping can bring. Whether you’re searching for suits or women’s dresses, almost all clothes are modelled on a textbook body type — toned and trim.   

This is perfect, of course, if you have this body shape. However, for those who are considerably taller or a larger size, it’s impossible to envision what it would look like on yourself. Material may bunch or gape in areas you don’t want, for instance. 

ASOS’ ‘See My Fit’ is a new feature which uses augmented reality to digitally map what a piece of clothing would look like on a variety of different body shapes, ranging from four to 18. Pioneering customers’ online experience, this addition is the first of its kind in Europe.  

ASOS has also been instrumental in integrating a feature called style match, where customers can essentially image search for clothing they’ve seen, for example, in real life or on social media, scraping ASOS’ stock for similar clothing they have available. This not only helps customers find products but allows them to find cheaper alternatives.  

DIY Makeup Testing

Renowned makeup retailer, Sephora have fused augmented reality in the beauty industry with Sephora Virtual Artist, which scans your face and lets you digitally apply numerous styles with different lipstick colours, eyeshadows, false eyelashes, and foundation colours to check what looks good on you. With it being difficult to gauge what colours can suit men and women’s skin tone, it’s particularly useful in reducing returns.   

Virtual Fitting Room 

An expected popular trend in ecommerce in the coming years is the ability to virtually try products on with artificial intelligence (AI). Nike is eradicating customer’s confusion around what size they should order certain types of shoes in — you might be a size nine at one retailer or a 9.5 at another, resulting in purchasing several sizes for the perfect fit. 

Well the need to do this is being removed. By standing in front of a wall and pointing your phone camera at your feet, the Nike app will scan your feet and use AI to determine what size and shape your feet are and the correct size in a specific shoe. The feature takes less than a minute of your time and has precision within two millimetres. 

Customised Shirts 

Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts is a men’s clothing brand that offer a range of choice of shirts and tuxedos on their online website to make sure they’re perfect for you. With the ability to modify website filters, you can select your style, fit, collar size and style, sleeve length, colour, pattern, weave, and fabric weight — you can purchase the shirt that meets your exact requirements. You can also customise your shirts by selecting the cuff type, adding pockets and monograms. 

The diverse selection makes it less likely you’ll return it when you’ve crafted it to meet your exact specifications. Many of us return clothes that come in one style or shape, perhaps the neck is too tight or the sleeves too short — so when you’re offered a variety of filters to craft the perfect shirt, you’re highly likely to keep it. 

Over in the States, the value of returns is forecasted to increase from $350 billion in 2017 to $550 billion in 2020. Hopefully more and more online retailers will introduce innovative features to make purchases so much easier. 


Coronavirus and the eCommerce evolution

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

As the government starts lifting lockdown measures within the UK to enable people to go back to work and the economy to click back into gear, online retailers, brands and ecommerce businesses will continue to see a huge surge in demand.

So, what factors do businesses need to consider now in order to cope with the rise in ecommerce and home delivery? And how can they remain competitive within an increasingly crowded online marketplace? Jonathan Bellwood, VP at Descartes, explains…

An irreversible shift

The imposed lockdown restrictions initiated an irreversible shift towards ecommerce as high street stores shut and people had no choice but to turn to online ordering. Online retail was booming before the crisis, but the impact of Coronavirus has caused many to change their shopping habits – probably for good.

Online grocery shopping is expected to increase by 33% during 2020. The uptake may have started with Coronavirus, but one reason it will continue is that even once lockdown ends, people will still remain risk-averse and want to continue social distancing to remain as safe as possible. They will see going to stores as an unnecessary risk, especially when they could easily have the items they need delivered to their home.

In addition, with some businesses unable to survive the fallout of Coronavirus, once lockdown ends, the high street may no longer be bustling with stores and shoppers. The experience of the high street is no longer what it once was, and is certainly not what consumers are looking for anymore. Retail has become more transactional, with consumers only buying what they need rather than spending time browsing.

There’s also the added cost and inconvenience for consumers buying on the high street: travel, parking etc.. But with consumers becoming increasingly more cost-conscious – especially those that may be furloughed or made redundant – they will try to save money any way they can. And if they can purchase the same products online, at a lower cost and get them delivered cost effectively when and where they want – why wouldn’t they shop online?

Human and automation collaboration

So how can online retailers become more efficient to cope with the potential surges in demand? One crucial element will be boosting workforce numbers. The impact from Coronavirus has meant that huge numbers of staff from the travel, hospitality and retail industries have been left without employment and will be willing and needing to work once they are permitted. There will, therefore, be a large talent pool of potential recruits available to fill up warehouses to support ecommerce companies with peaks in demand.

Some large retailers, particularly in the groceries industry, rely on automation and robotics to meet demand. But the reality is that automation is programmed to produce a consistent output and has a threshold of how much it can push out; it’s not as simple as telling the machines to produce or pick more products, faster. Automation certainly has its place, but not for processes that need to scale on a regular basis.

For warehouses that have adopted a semi-automated process, the collaboration with human workers means that in times of peak demand, they can quickly employ more staff that can be trained up to accurately pick customer orders and send them out. Those businesses that have an optimised Warehouse Management System (WMS) can rapidly increase usage on the system and bring in employees to operate it – humans can upscale and downscale very quickly to adapt to changing demands and economic conditions. But you can’t just bring in more staff without a WMS in place.

Those without a WMS that are clinging on to paper pick lists, manual processes and other unscalable warehouse practices will not have benefitted from the surge in online orders so far because they weren’t in a position to cope. In the hyper competitive online retail ecosystem, failing to meet customer expectations with slow or inaccurate order fulfilment means losing a customer for life. But despite the volume of information an e-commerce WMS handles, both in set-up and use, implementation is far from complex. With rapid turnaround remote solutions, warehouse management software can be deployed without having to physically visit a site to get up and running. If warehouse facilities are available, a logistics platform can be rolled out in a matter of weeks, not months.

Death of the high street

The decline of the high street has been well publicised for many years, with footfall decreasing and retailers shutting down increasingly year on year. The Covid-19 crisis has now accelerated that decline, so with stores having no option but to close their doors and consumer habits changing for good, we could be witnessing the death of the high street sooner than we thought.

Consumer preference and priorities have now dramatically shifted and companies like Amazon have set the standard for the ecommerce experience. Consumers don’t want or need to visit the high street for their shopping needs – people are time poor and will pay for the convenience of having what they need, delivered where and when they want it. Customer experience still reigns supreme, but the emphasis has changed to convenience.

This is why in the modern retail landscape, fulfilment delivery is now a key differentiator for ecommerce businesses – especially for those that rely on third party logistics providers. Loyalty is vital for all businesses and the impact of a poor delivery experience can significantly alter consumer perception of the brand, potentially causing them to shop elsewhere in the future. The use of technology to optimise delivery efficiency has never been more important.

Catalyst for change

One of the few positives to come out of the crisis is that it will be the undeniable catalyst for businesses to embrace adoption to the new vision of retail. Any businesses holding on to old ways of working and more traditional systems are unlikely to survive through the pandemic. We may still be living in an economic climate that is changing day by day, but there is a clear trajectory for retail that is well underway – businesses need to adapt now or risk failure.

Online shopping behavior: What COVID-19 changed and how to test it

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

When it comes to e-commerce, the current pandemic fortified the already booming position of online shopping in the daily life of an average consumer. The past few weeks have seen a change in behavior, with 45% of consumers opting for online shopping. But how lasting will these new habits be? What is different now, in comparison to how adopters of online shopping used to behave and experience it before the crisis?

Check out the full webinar here to learn more about the entire study and get all the insights!

The replicated study included 500 respondents split into 2 cells, with each cell exposed to one retailer (Amazon or Walmart) and 4 categories, both food ones (coffee, chocolate, and cereals) and one non-food category (cleaning products). They completed 2 eye-tracking & click tasks (which served to determine which products participants considered and what elements of product pages they found useful).

The first wave of the study was conducted in June 2019, and the second in April 2020.

Here’s what we found that could help brands gain competitive advantage:

Shoppers saw 36% more products compared to purchases before COVID-19!

Both prior and during the COVID-19 crisis, positioning is crucial for product noticeability, as our study showed that items placed in one of the top 10 positions on a PLP have a 34% higher chance to be noticed. Also, as a rule of thumb, the middle columns of the PLP perform better in terms of visibility than the lateral ones in a grid layout. Overall, a simpler PLP layout that is showcasing fewer products per page, with clear organization, ensures that a greater portion of content will be seen and explored.

The most significant change in the way respondents behaved was in the time shoppers spend on the retailer’s product list. It is substantially longer – from half a minute on average to almost 50 seconds! Not only is the exploration of product lists prolonged, but the average time spent per product is also higher – 0.17s more, or 11% longer. With an extended browsing time, comes higher visibility of PLPs – there’s a significant increase in the number of noticed products.

Purchase interest stays on a more or less same level – with a slight decrease in some categories (chocolate, cereals), but with leading brands remaining the same among the tested categories.

Consumers are scrolling further and noticing more on a PDP

The difference in product detail pages exploration is notable – they were explored for almost 20 seconds longer during the COVID-19 crisis. Respondents also scroll through the page much deeper, ensuring that a more significant portion of the page is seen – nearly 60% of shoppers reach the page end compared to usual ~5% who did in our other tests. This results in twice as many areas seen on a PDP, compared to the usual, pre-COVID browsing.

The areas above the fold – product image, product name, price, short description & add to cart – remain most visible and among most useful in reaching a purchase decision. However, some other areas are gaining in importance for shoppers, primarily – suggested products and customer reviews.

Basket size is the same, but its contents have changed

Pages for the four categories included in the study were all browsed longer, with coffee and cleaning products keeping the same purchase intent, and chocolates and cereals having a somewhat decreased number of considered products. Lesser-known brands that provide value at a lower price were taken into consideration for both cereal and coffee categories, while the interest for healthy cereal products and ‘greener’ packaging options for coffee increased.

In contrast, sanitizing properties and convenience of use rule our choices when it comes to cleaning products, while value packs, family, and variety packs that offer a bigger assortment of products at a competitive price in the chocolate category are two tendencies clearly influenced by the ongoing crisis.

Previous research has shown that, when unaffected by a crisis, consumers notice only a fraction of the products during normal browsing. So what are the ways you can optimize your website to gain a competitive advantage? From an online shopping strategy, or testing shopper behavior on specific websites, to tactical impact studies, know how to choose the right type of study to up your e-commerce game!

Here are the key takeaways – make sure to listen to the full webinar for more insights:

  • Shoppers spend more time browsing during COVID-19, on the lookout for new info and best value
  • This might be the right time to optimize your e-commerce strategy and assets
  • Consumer behavior is changing, so change with it!

Interested in learning more about e-commerce testing? Reach out to us at

B2B leaders in eCommerce ‘bullish about digital experience budgets’ despite COVID-19

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Despite the economic downturn, 85% of B2B organisations still expect their digital experience budget to increase next year, which will help 71% of B2B leaders who agree that the digital experience their company offers does not meet the needs and expectations of its customers.

However, facing market uncertainty brought on by the global pandemic, B2B organisations must adapt to changes in how they connect with customers as 54% of leaders in IT, marketing and ecommerce roles define their company’s customer relationships as strained, developing or non-existent.

That’s According to data from Episerver’s B2B Digital Experience Report, which says that delivering relevant, personalised digital experiences has emerged as a top priority and direct selling as the most significant opportunity for B2B leaders navigating a new reality.

The March 2020 survey of 600 global decision-makers in IT, e-commerce and marketing roles at B2B organisations indicates 41% of respondents believe selling directly to customers online is the most significant opportunity for their business in the next year, followed by expanding into new geographies (37%) and providing their salesforce with digital selling tools (36%).

“It is clear from our data and conversations with customers that digital transformation is being accelerated to address immediate needs due to COVID-19,” said Alex Atzberger, CEO of Episerver. “Direct-to-consumer sales, for example, have been discussed for years, but now the time is there to rethink your go-to-market channel. Getting in touch with customers directly and in a hyper-relevant way is business critical when in-person tactics are impossible to execute. You can’t not be digital anymore; you can’t not create content to create engaging experiences; you can’t not sell directly.”

The survey also discovered that many B2B organisations are struggling to meet customer expectations and are faced with an arduous competitor. Fifty-two percent of B2B leaders believe their company is losing revenue to Amazon, but despite those perceived losses, 52% of B2B leaders also say Amazon is seen more as an opportunity than a threat.

While technologies offer a potential solution to today’s challenges, anxieties remain around the impact of AI and automation on future job security:

  • 61% of B2B leaders fear that AI will replace the need for a human worker in their current position in the next five years.
  • 82% of B2B leaders say, however, that AI will make them better at their job in the next two years.
  • 82% of B2B leaders say better data quality is how AI will make them better at their job in the next two years.

Click here to download the full report.

Malicious bots targeting ecommerce sites during COVID-19 outbreak

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

A third of e-commerce traffic was from bad bots in February, with a surge in bot traffic on sites selling masks and sanitiser.

That’s according to findings from bot research conducted by Radware, which showed 27.7% of traffic on media sites in February was made up of bad bots and involved automated activity, including scraping.

Bots are also being used to drive the infodemic, continuing to be an efficient tool for powers like cybercriminals, nation-state actors, and conspiracy theorists. In February 58.1% of bots on the internet in February could mimic human behaviour. They disguise their identity and create fake accounts on social media sites to post their masters’ propaganda as a genuine user. With such advanced bots, spreading disinformation becomes easy for countries such as Russia.

The WHO has already warned nations to manage fake news because the impact of information — true or false — especially in times of fear, uncertainty and confusion is greater. And the EU’s European External Action Service has wanted about Russia’s aggressive exploitation of the novel virus to push disinformation and weaken western society using bots. For example, Radware expects the US Presidential Elections will be increasingly targeted over the coming months.

31.3% of e-commerce traffic was from bad bots making it the second most targeted industry by bad bots in February. The sector witnessed an unexpected surge in bad bot traffic after the rise of coronavirus pandemic. In particular sites selling masks or sanitiser were hit hard. These automated attacks are aimed at performing denial of inventory attacks, hoarding these essential products to sell in black markets, or even scraping product details to list similar products on malware-ridden sites to scam people.

Phishing in relation to CV-19 is rising as a result of fear and in the UK alone, coronavirus scams costed victims over £800,000 (the equivalent of nearly USD 1M) in one month (February 2020 – source National Fraud Intelligence Bureau).

Radware has issued a more detailed report ‘The Big Bad Bot Problem’ on the 2019 bot landscape and 2020 threats. Key findings:

  • In 2019, overall bot traffic grew by 10% year over year, of which the bad bot traffic grew by 26%.
  • Sophisticated bots that can mimic human behaviour and deceive conventional security measures increased 18% and now account for 45% of the bad bot traffic.
  • Automated attacks on mobile phones and APIs are rising. Bad bot traffic accounted for 15.4% of total traffic on mobile devices and 16.6% of total traffic.
  • e-commerce is the industry that is most targeted by bad bots, followed by travel.
  • The use of bad bots to disseminate misinformation is likely to increase in 2020 in response to events such as elections and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The increase in automated attacks on APIs is expected to intensify as more APIs are deployed to facilitate communication between web applications.

Just Eat is offering NHS workers 25 per cent off all orders

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Just Eat has announced it is offering NHS workers 25 per cent off all orders as a way of saying thank you and to show appreciation for their extraordinary work.

Clearly, following government restrictions, many restaurants and cafes across the UK have made the decision to close.

Those that remain open are only offering takeaways, making food delivery the only way many can enjoy a hot meal they’ve not had time to cook, after a long shift.

Just Eat works with more than 35,000 Restaurant Partners and delivers to 95 per cent of UK postcodes, meaning it is well positioned to support the 1.3 million NHS employees across the country.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has progressed, a number of NHS workers have had to self-isolate from their families.

Many have been relocated temporarily to nearby hotels, some of which are without cooking facilities or have closed the hotel restaurant in line with government advice.

Andrew Kenny, UK managing director of Just Eat, said: “Millions of NHS staff are working round the clock to keep us safe, help the most vulnerable and keep this country going.

“There’s never been a more important time for us to show our support and appreciation for their heroic efforts.

“We’re all in this together. In a time that will no doubt continue to put a huge strain on our front line healthcare workers and their families, we hope this gesture helps many to enjoy a hot meal and provides a small sense of normality.”

This new discount for healthcare workers comes after Just Eat put in place a £10 million emergency support package to assist its small independent Restaurant Partners, to help them maintain their operations and support their staff.

Just Eat is also offering financial support for couriers who fall ill as a result of Covid-19 or may need to self-isolate.

Here’s how NHS staff can claim the discount – spread the word:

Step 1: Go to and enter your NHS email address.

Step 2: You will be sent a verification email to this address to ensure it’s an active NHS account.

Step 3: Once the account has been verified, the discount code will appear on your screen. This can only be used once and will be valid until midnight. You can generate a new discount code every day until 13 April 2020.

Step 4: Log on to Just Eat and put the discount code in the checkout. You don’t need to use your NHS email address, you can use your usual log-in details.

The discount can be redeemed from Friday 27th March until Monday 13th April.

Coronavirus means surge in online ordering continues

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Online food shopping has seen steady growth within the UK for a number of years, with one in five UK internet users aged 18 and over buying groceries online, according to a YouGov survey conducted in Q3 2019.

However, this has surged with the outbreak of COVID-19, and supermarkets are struggling to keep up with the demand for online orders as shoppers choose to avoid bricks and mortar retail premises.

14.2 percent of UK internet users aged 18+ polled in March admitted that they had increased their online grocery shopping, according to research by RetailX Coronavirus Consumer Confidence Tracker published by Internet Retailing, along with 6.9 per cent of those polled that said they ordered more takeout online.

The demand has created its own problems, with many users left frustrated as they’re left in ‘virtual’ queues which can be thousands of people long, while new customers are seemingly barred from using online services.

Supermarket websites and apps have also taken a hit with many crashing due to the large numbers of traffic using the platforms, with a mid-March Ipsos MORI survey of adults in the UK revealing that more than 40 per cent were buying more supermarket items than they normally would as a result of panic buying across physical and online stores.

Online shoppers forced to search for alternatives has been good news for a plethora of smaller UK firms that might not have benefitted from this new attention, along with restaurants making the change from guests dining in-house to direct-to-home delivery services of meals prepared by chefs.

With the COVID-19 outbreak only getting worse, many UK businesses are fearing the worst about the coming months. However, it’s clear that for the entrepreneurial and resourceful, business specialising with online shops and ecommerce platforms have a much better chance of survival and growth in the days ahead.

Coronavirus: Tesco limits online orders

1024 301 Stuart O'Brien

Retail giant Tesco is limiting online grocery orders to 80 items only in a bid to prevent stockpiling as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Previously, the average number of products ordered online by consumers would have been under 60 products, but that figure has risen sharply in recent weeks.

The new limit by Tesco aims to allow shoppers to continue with their weekly purchasing.

According to a statement by the company: “By introducing this new limit, we can get more orders onto each van, allowing us to release significantly more delivery slots over the coming weeks, as part of our efforts to ensure all customers can access the essentials they need.”

Tesco has also requested that members of the public not at a high risk from the virus should visit stores in lieu of online shopping, giving the store more available time slots to offer those at a high risk from COVID-19.

“We know that it’s difficult to get a delivery slot for online shopping at the moment due to high demand, and we ask those who are able to safely come to stores to do so, so that we can start to free up more slots for the more vulnerable,” said a spokesperson for the company.