Countries around the world have all been impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the implications that it is having on various industries have been profound.
Many consumers turned to online shopping as the best way to minimise the risk of infection, but the pandemic also saw many consumers engaging in stockpiling behaviour which led to extreme product shortages. In turn, this placed a tremendous burden on e-commerce retailers’ supply chains and logistical infrastructure.
Some markets were more resilient than others or already had more robust e-commerce networks in place. Examining out-of-stock rates and SKU availability by industry gives you a view of how different markets handled the challenges that the pandemic brought to online retailing.
Key findings from the report
Globally, tissue and hygiene SKU availability has fared well during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although available SKUs experienced large declines in important markets like China and the UK, overall, at a global level, available SKUs at the end of September were above pre-COVID-19 levels. Strong availability growth in countries including Brazil, Russia, Turkey and South Korea balanced out contractions in available SKUs in other key geographic markets.
Out of stock rates (OOS) began rising as early as February 2020, and peaked during mid-March. Despite much variation week-to-week over the six months to September, rates never rose above their March peak of just below 9%. China has been the market most significantly affected, beginning the year at very low OOS, averaging just 0.5%, and then rising to 30% by the end of September. Conversely, Brazil and Russia experienced reductions in OOS rates over the 9-month period to September.
Only South Korea, Poland and Indonesia were able to maintain stable supplies between January and September, with low OOS rates and increases in SKU availability. Among the tissue and hygiene categories, only paper towel products retained strong supplies throughout the period.
Large international brands reduced exports of tissue and hygiene products to China, leaving a massive white space of unmet demand. International brands, including Johnson & Johnson, Kao and Unicharm, have focused on servicing their home markets and scaled down exports. Local Chinese brands like C&S Paper Co and Qingfeng have struggled to meet pent up demand.
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.