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How COVID-19 has impacted buying patterns on Amazon: Update April 2020

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Two weeks ago, we published an article about how the Coronavirus has impacted online buying patterns. Although we aren’t likely to see shifts as dramatic as those that occurred during March, more subtle changes are certain to occur. As people settle into lockdown, and eventually society returns to normal, Sellers looking to tailor their strategy to match customer demand will need to adjust their tactics. 

Working closely with Amazon Sellers as data analysts, we have a lot of information about Amazon buying trends. To help, we are going to start a monthly round-up series looking at the top search terms per week. This month, we are going to focus on UK search data. 

Looking solely at Amazon in one geography also allows us to get into details about the top-performing ASINs, their click-share and conversion figures. Interestingly (and un-interestingly) USA search patterns have remained stagnant — focused on toilet paper, face masks and hand sanitizer — not so in the UK. Next month, we are going to make some international comparisons.  

Our goal is to not only provide insights into how buying patterns change during lockdown, but to look at the competition for those terms and help Sellers address the volatility in different markets. Social distancing means ecommerce is more important than ever, the surge in Amazon sales shouldn’t be surprising.

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Trend #1: Seasonal purchasing continues 

Seasonal buying patterns shine through. Despite the pandemic, people celebrated Easter and variations on ‘easter egg’ dominated three of the top five spots during the second week of April — actually displacing ‘face mask’ down to ‘position three’.  It’s also interesting to note that people started buying sun loungers as soon as a few hot days had passed.  

Sellers shouldn’t immediately jump to the assumption that all seasonal buying patterns will re-emerge. It’s hard to imagine that there will be a lot of ‘team sports’ this summer. But it’s likely that broad seasonal trends will persist, and that people will still make holiday-related purchases. For example, fan purchases are likely to rise as summer rolls on. Be prepared for Halloween, and American Sellers should gear up for the 4th of July — the pandemic may keep us in our houses, but life continues. 

Trend #2: People are settling into quarantine life

Starting in April, it looks like the UK public got bored, realized they needed haircuts and decided that working out was important. You can see ‘hair clippers for men’ rise to the second most searched position by the third week of April. Resistance bands, jigsaw puzzles and legos all make an appearance. 

Sellers should recognize that people are beginning to look at quarantine as a long-term reality, and realizing that they need amenities other than toilet paper and face masks to be happy. It’s likely that as lockdowns continue, new items could surface to help replicate normal activities within our homes. For example, we might see board games, books, video games or musical instruments cracking the top search lists. Even if they don’t make it that far, it’s good context for rising demand. 

Trend #3: The same products aren’t dominating the same search terms 

Although some of the search terms are present on every one of these lists — face masks particularly — the same ASINs and product listings aren’t the number one seller every week. This indicates that supply chains remain an issue, particularly when it comes to high demand products. 

Sellers need to keep a strong eye on their access to products and customers. In the current climate, the ability to supply products and fulfill them is a competitive advantage all its own. Make sure that your advertising strategy aligns with your logistics — it will help your clicks and conversions.

Trend #4: Click share and conversion share are pretty much in lockstep 

With shipping times at record highs, we might expect to see more variation between click share and conversion share. If shoppers click on a product only to find out that shipping times are three weeks, they aren’t likely to make a purchase. However, if you look at the click share and conversion share for the different products, they are nearly identical. There are a few outliers (top listing resistance bands and sun loungers consistently under-performed in terms of conversions), but most are within one percentage point.

As a refresher:  

  • Click share is the aggregate percentage of clicks any given ASIN receives compared to the total number of clicks for that search term. 
  • Conversion share is the aggregate percentage of the purchases a given ASIN receives compared to the total purchases made for a given search term.   

Some variation might be hidden in the raw numbers. Looking at percentage shares won’t reveal people who clicked on a product and then never made a purchase. However, the synchronization between clicks and conversions would indicate that the best Sellers on Amazon have taken point three to heart — they are doubling down on the products that they can fulfill within a reasonable amount of time. 

Understanding your customers is more important than ever

Buying patterns have changed, the amount of disposable income people have has changed — and you need to be able to adapt. Although a historical understanding of your customers will help, unprecedented circumstances mean that getting real-time updates is more important than ever. 

Analytics tools can help you spot long-term patterns and craft new customer lifetime value trajectories. However, if you want some more basic information about how to understand your customer data on Amazon and master Amazon Brand Analytics, check out our eBook — it’s free.  

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