The Effect of COVID-19 on Merchants and Online Shopping

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve, businesses are being negatively affected in terms of revenue. This is especially true for brick-and-mortar stores. Since these locations rely on in-store visits from customers, the health and safety practices of social distancing and isolation have decreased brick-and-mortar store traffic and business. 

According to a Coresight Research report, 47.2% of U.S. individuals are currently avoiding shopping centres and malls. Meanwhile, shops in general are at 32.7%. As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, 74.6% of those surveyed stated they will avoid shopping malls. For shops in general, it amounted to 52.7%.

When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines for mass gatherings and large events, restaurants also responded with updated delivery options and services. Data from OpenTable indicates that the percentage of restaurant reservations within the U.S. between March 8 and 15 sunk from -2% to -48%. By March 21, it was at -100%.  

Research conducted by CivicScience also indicates the steep decline for in-store visits. The research suggests that there is a correlation between the increase of online grocery shopping and the avoidance of restaurants. 

In terms of age groups, Coresight Research predicts that 85.6% of those who are 61 and over are likely to avoid shopping centres and malls as the pandemic worsens. This age group is also likely to avoid shops in general at 61.1%. 

The next leading group to avoid shopping centres pertains to individuals between ages 45 and 60 at 79.3%. Meanwhile, those between 30 and 44, as well as 18 to 29, are at 67.8% and 67.9% respectively. 

Taking each age group into account, this avoidance of malls and shops in general can be attributed to each cohort’s level of vulnerability. Older individuals, for instance, have a higher risk of fatality. Given this decrease in brick-and-mortar store visits, online solutions are on the rise. 

With the proliferation of online shopping due to the avoidance of in-person visits to brick-and-mortar stores, merchants who deal with brick-and-mortar businesses must learn to adapt quickly.  

Visa Checkout is one of such solutions where a merchant’s customers can quickly and easily make online purchases. According to Visa’s research, customers who use the payment method make 30% more transactions online. In addition, those using this method are more frequent visitors of online shopping pages. Merchants can continue to benefit from this payment method via Visa Checkout promotions, as the technique grants a 46% net in new customers. 

Along with this payment method, Merchants can also look to create their own online business. Corinne Pohlmann, who is the senior vice-president of national affairs and partnerships at the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, noted in Yahoo Finance that it is easier today compared to five years ago when it comes to opening an online store. 

Pohlmann added that opening an e-commerce store can have high costs, however. “It’s also the distribution costs, which all add up,” she said. “The situation we are finding ourselves in today is probably going to encourage some of those [businesses] to look at other options.”

Despite this, Pohlmann noted that if a business is able to find success in e-commerce, then it may continue with an online store after the coronavirus passes. This would depend on how merchants manage these businesses, as well as if the transition would continue to be a right fit afterwards.  

“It will be interesting to see how many do make that flip and how many feel that it’s something they won’t keep doing,” Pohlmann said. 

As merchants keep up with the demand for online shopping and work to optimize their e-commerce stores, it is integral to have reliable payment processors. Merchant Broker takes pride in its ability to deliver more working capital to businesses across the globe. Coupled with a personalized approach when it comes to working closely with new and current clients, Merchant Broker is always ready to take businesses to the next level.  

To contact Merchant Broker, send an email to info@merchantbroker.com.

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