What the first french lockdown taught us to prepare the second.
The impact of lockdown on trade
At first glance, the equation seems simple, as physical shops are closed, consumers go online to do their shopping. But observations of shopping behaviour from the confinement are actually more complex and certain trends have impacted e-commerce in the long term.
Internet users were initially looking for new product categories. To limit their outings, they preferred to order online products that they were used to finding in shops, such as groceries, baby products or children's games.
Other categories also grew significantly as consumers had to find ways to keep busy at home. This new trend has therefore increased the appeal of board games, video games, books and also sports equipment.
The standardisation of home office has increased sales of computer and office equipment.
The post-lockdown period for French retailers
Some of these trends continue after the lockdown because new habits have taken hold: sporting goods are keeping a certain breadth. Consumers are reluctant to go back to the gym and prefer to equip themselves at home. Moreover, some gyms are closed again. They continue to equip themselves for home office because the return to the office is still partial and a new way of working is being adopted.
These new trends on the consumer side also create new challenges for the companies that market these products.
First of all, there is a challenge for brands that market their products both in physical shops and on an online shop: converting "physical" customers into Internet customers.
What difficulties have e-merchants had to face?
- Slower logistics for some structures due to lack of staff or difficult to comply with sanitary measures in warehouses.
- Overloading of transporters and therefore delays in deliveries, which can cause customer dissatisfaction.
- Stock shortages and difficulties in restocking goods imported from abroad.
What happened to Cdiscount?
On the Cdiscount site, these trends were reflected and new categories were researched and purchased by customers. New Internet users discovered and bought on Cdiscount to compensate for the unavailability of physical shops.
Cdiscount also supported VSEs and SMEs in difficulty during this period. A facilitated procedure for registering and opening a shop on the Marketplace was put in place.
60 million masks were delivered by Cdiscount to French companies.
Sanitary measures were introduced in the warehouses and the logistics department managed to maintain an optimal delivery time with the possibility of next-day delivery for a large part of the products.
Cdiscount.com has become, during the confinement, a real alternative to the physical supermarket for certain first and second necessity goods. Consumers delivered quickly and satisfied with their experience have therefore maintained certain consumption habits, even after the reopening of the physical shops.
Second lock down and shopping season
Everything we experienced during the first phase has allowed us to be better prepared to face this second phase of french lock down. We know what consumers might need and we know how to optimise our response to demand.
However, this time there is an additional parameter, as we are entering the most intense period of the year for e-commerce with the end of the year commercial operations. Cdiscount has therefore put in place a system to best support French VSEs and SMEs who wish to join the marketplace, with notably the reimbursement of commission fees for orders collected in shop (click and collect).