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Between 9th -23rd November, there was increased demand for consumer health products as cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) increase around the world and certain regions head into cold and flu season. This resulted in fluctuating e-commerce product availability and out-of-stock rates for vitamins in particular as consumers try to stay healthy at home.
Germany, Japan and South Korea saw the biggest percentage point decrease in the number of SKUs available online for Multivitamins, Vitamin C and Combination products, with retailers in these countries removing SKU pages when demand got too high. Meanwhile, Russia, Belgium and South Africa saw the biggest increase in out-of-stock rates (OOS%) for the same categories (Combination products and Multivitamins) with retailers listing products as out of stock instead of removing SKU pages altogether.
In terms of improving availability, France and Turkey take the top 4 spots for the biggest percentage point increase in SKUs available online, for Vitamin C and Multivitamins specifically. Czech Republic and Taiwan also appear twice in that ranking for the same product categories. In terms of decreasing out of stock rates, Combination products (cough, cold and allergy remedies) saw the biggest decrease in out-of-stock rates in Malaysia, Italy and India, resulting in a more informed shopping experience for consumers in those countries.
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.