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This article is part of a series on COVID-19 focusing on how the outbreak is affecting industries.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having an unprecedented impact on consumer markets around the world, due to the number of individuals working from home or unable to leave their homes. This has placed a tremendous burden on the infrastructure of e-commerce retailers as consumers look to purchase necessary goods from their home and remain dependent on their country’s delivery infrastructure and supply chains.
With Euromonitor International’s new global e-commerce product and price monitoring platform, Via, extracting millions of data points every day for standardised cross-comparison quickly reveals what product categories are selling out during key periods of the coronavirus outbreak as well as the dramatic implications these demand drivers are having on online retail pricing for select categories.
Using Via, we were able to quickly and easily examine nearly a million daily data observations for a three-week period across leading ecommerce retailers in China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Italy. Moreover, the data clearly shows how the availability of selected categories and their pricing dynamics has changed during this period.
For this report, a select basket of daily goods has been chosen for observation based on Euromonitor International’s industry knowledge of fast-moving consumer goods alongside local knowledge from research analysts on the ground in each market reporting on local market supply chain issues and COVID-19 impacted product categories.
Alongside category scope, the million daily data observations used for this analysis are pulled from key online retailers across each market and represent a significant portion of e-commerce availability in each country.
As the COVID-19 situation improves in China, the online price of selected products will stabilise as manufacturers resume work and promotions carried out by online platforms continue. However, some over-the-counter medicines and healthcare products will continue to see strong out-of-stock rates in China. While in Hong Kong, prices and availability are stabilising, but the impending return of overseas students could lead to a renewed outbreak, as well as higher online prices and out-of-stock levels.
In Italy, as the government applies stricter measures to limit people’s movement, e-commerce is surging, but this is also putting supply and fulfillment logistics under pressure. The share of “out-of-stock” items on e-commerce websites has increased significantly since the #iorestoacasa decree of 9 March 2020.
Physical retailers in Japan struggled to provide basic necessities to consumers between 24 February-15 March 2020. In turn, e-commerce sites also experienced a strong surge in online out-of-stock items, even with a variety of third party merchants stepping in to provide stock, with increasingly rising prices. And in South Korea, the government announced the highest alert level for COVID-19 and consumers, fearing a nationwide outbreak, began stocking up on packaged food. Thanks to the country’s strong e-commerce logistical network however, delivery capacity has expanded promptly and online product availability remains relatively stable. Overall, the Asian markets show how quickly e-commerce can stabilise after initial spikes.
The following analysts contributed to the report:
• China: Mark Miao
• Hong Kong: Daegal Leung
• Japan: Jared Conway
• Italy: Stefano Botter
• South Korea: Oryoon Lee