Top 10 Ranking: Hot Drinks Product Availability during Coronavirus

New lockdown measures in response to increased Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases mean that consumers are back to staying and working from home. As a result, the out of stock rate and product availability for hot drinks saw big changes between 26th October and 9th November in certain regions.

South Korea, Japan and the UK appear most frequently in the top 10 ranking for the biggest percentage point decrease in the number of available SKUs online for fruit/herbal tea, instant coffee and black tea. Looking at rising out-of-stock rates (OOS%), these countries don’t feature in the ranking, instead, we’re seeing the OOS% increases across Canada, Indonesia and Mexico for black tea and fresh ground coffee pods. This shows that consumer demand for hot drinks products at home are increasing but online retailers are reacting differently to increased demand, with those in South Korea, UK and Japan removing SKU pages online and Canada, Indonesia and Mexico listing products as out-of-stock.

Black tea and fruit/herbal tea saw the biggest increase in percentage of SKUs available online, with China, the US and Germany taking the top spots and replenishing this stock online. China also appears on the top 10 ranking for decreasing OOS% for instant coffee and black tea. China seems to be dealing well with increased demand and resolving out of stock issues, resulting in a more informed shopping experience for consumers. Instead of product pages disappearing, retailers are letting consumers know that products are out of stock.

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.