Coronavirus forces retailers to rely more on digital channels for wholesale needs, report finds

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Retailers increasingly turned to digital channels for wholesale orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic, finds a new report.

The HIM Wholesale eCommerce (Retail) Report 2020 notes the highest level of app usage on record during the week commencing 15 March, accelerating trial and adoption of digital ordering.

The data between March 11-25 showed a 1,308 percent increase in searches for ‘pasta’, 1,371 percent in searches for ‘toilet roll’ and almost 5,000 unique searches for ‘germs’ – up 722 percent.

“Due to consumers stockpiling essential items, such as household and grocery items, demand for certain products has soared. Retailers are having to stock up more frequently, which is clear from the significant increase in searches and increased frequency of transactional sessions on wholesaler websites,” commented Ellen Codd, insights manager at HIM & MCA Insight.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the behaviour of retailers, with a change in direction for keyword tagging instead of brand-specific searches.

“There is a definite change in search behaviour, as searches move from brand to product focused, and in the case of searches such as ‘germs’, retailers are focused on finding any appropriate products to keep stores stocked,” Codd added.

The report found that the household and non-food categories have grown their share of the top 100 search terms from just 3 percent to 29 percent as retailers attempt to keep their shelves full of items which would previously not have made it anywhere near the ‘favourites’ list.