As digital sales grow to meet the needs of health-conscious consumers trying to avoid unnecessary shopping trips, many opportunities have opened up for eCommerce and especially mCommerce as mobile device usage grows and consumers become more comfortable making purchases through mobile apps. In particular, hygiene and healthcare categories of products have seen significant growth in sales in certain categories that meet the demands of people with limited access to stores. Online businesses should do their best to understand the current conditions and address the shifting trends in consumer behavior.
The most basic change taking place is the increase in overall ordering of products online. While nearly all sectors of retail have declined, non-store purchases including eCommerce are up 22%. New customers are starting to use online commerce, and existing ones are starting to buy categories of products they would have bought in-person before now. In addition, customers are stockpiling necessities by buying in bulk. There are several reasons why this trend is rising: uncertainty about products remaining in stock, savings from buying in higher quantities and reducing shipping costs, and unwillingness to wait days for new orders to arrive if they run out and can’t go to the store to restock. Not only are health and hygiene products among those whose sales have shot up, but they are ideal to sell in large quantities since they can be stored for long periods even if they aren’t needed immediately.
In direct response to the pandemic, personal protective equipment (PPE) has risen in demand. The month of March saw a 670% rise in disposable gloves ordered online. Masks are becoming a requirement as many public places reopen. These kinds of equipment will be needed for the foreseeable future, and it is likely that they will be purchased not only by individuals, but by businesses who want to provide them to public-facing employees as well as other organizations with similar interests. Any digital retailer who sells to businesses may find PPE to be as normal an expense as office supplies, meaning that even sellers who don’t stock a full line of healthcare products might want to list protective equipment for sale. Apparel companies have also moved to offer non-medical grade face shields and masks.
In addition to direct prevention, consumers are now interested in improving their health in other ways, making sales of other kinds of health and hygiene products rise. Shoppers hoping to improve their immune systems to resist infection have invested in vitamin C and D and other nutritional supplements. With less availability of medical professionals, interest in self-care of other health conditions is expanding as well. The public consciousness is now more concerned with recommended personal health practices, leading to more utilization of cleaning supplies and hand sanitizers.
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The closure of personal care businesses such as hair and nail salons has also been a factor in the increase in digital sales. Online sales of self-care products jumped 24% in the first quarter of 2020 and stand to rise even further as consumers look for at-home solutions or substitute for personal care. Grooming, skincare, and beauty products have now become digital purchases on a larger scale while they were previously bought at pharmacies and drugstores. Sellers with mCommerce stores can appeal to customers who are looking to fill this gap in services by providing a quality selection of hygiene products.
Online sellers should expect health and hygiene products to remain a top-selling category in the future. Specific trends for prevention and good health habits are sure to evolve over time, meaning that having an app that can support a large and rapidly changing inventory is essential to appealing to customers seeking to buy health products conveniently from their mobile device.
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