Top 10 Ranking: Beauty and Personal Care Product Availability during Coronavirus

Between 7th to 24th September, soap, hand care and baby wipes saw the biggest changes in online product availability and out-of-stock rates (OOS%) in the beauty and personal care industry.

Bar soap in the US saw the largest decrease in the number of online SKUs available during this period, followed by hand care in Spain and Japan. Bar soap in Spain and Japan also saw significant decreases in online SKU availability, following the recent spike in Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in both countries. The UK appears three times in the top 10 rankings for the biggest decrease in online SKU availability, for baby wipes, bar soap and hand care, which also shows increased demand for these products after a surge in COVID-19 cases.

In terms of rising OOS% however, the rates aren’t as steep as falling SKU counts for products available to purchase online. The Netherlands saw a 15% increase in OOS% for baby wipes, but the US, the UK and Japan don’t feature on the OOS% ranking, suggesting that retailers in these countries are removing SKU pages to deal with increased demand instead of listing products as out of stock.

Regarding improving product availability, hand care in Italy saw a steep increase in available online SKUs. The UAE, China, Turkey and Russia all feature heavily in the top 10 rankings of countries with the highest increase in online SKU availability, specifically for bar soap, hand care and liquid soap. Meanwhile, India, Malaysia and China appear most frequently in the top 10 rankings for decreasing OOS%, showing that retailers are responding better to increased demand and creating a more transparent online shopping experience.

Getting product assortment and availability right is challenging at the best of times. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on consumer markets worldwide, with many people working from home or unable to leave their homes.

Many consumers have turned to online shopping as the best way to minimise the risk of infection, and the pandemic also saw many consumers engaging in stockpiling behaviour which is leading to significant product shortages. In turn, this places a tremendous burden on e-commerce retailers’ supply chains and logistical infrastructure.

Some markets have been more resilient than others or already had more robust e-commerce networks in place. Looking at a snapshot of out of stock and SKU availability gives you a view of how different markets are handling the challenges that the pandemic has brought to online retailing.

When tracking product availability, it is important to track both out of stock % and number of available SKUs as they result in two very different shopping experiences. To deal with increased demand during the pandemic, some retailers removed SKU pages altogether, reducing the number of available SKUs instead of listing SKUs as out of stock. If out of stock rates are low, but the number of available SKUs is rapidly decreasing, it creates confusion for the shopper to see SKUs being removed without notification. On the other hand, if out of stock rates are high but the number of SKUs remains stable, then shoppers are more informed about the overall availability of products on a retailer’s website.

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 more than 20 million daily SKU observations across leading e-commerce retailers in 40 countries. Moreover, the data clearly shows how the availability of selected categories and their pricing dynamics has changed during this period. Use our Coronavirus: Pricing and Availability Tracker to learn more.