Online retailers are quickly adapting their operations as a result of the coronavirus disease, also known as COVID-19. Retailers are encouraging consumers to shop online as well as heavily cleaning their stores and potentially closing them.
Ecommerce sales in many product categories have already spiked, including an 817% increase in online sales in the virus category (products including hand sanitizers, gloves, masks and antibacterial sprays), an 198% increase in cold and flu products, a 152% increase in pain revilers, 186% increase in toilet paper, 69% increase in canned goods and 58% increase in shelf-stable products, according to data from Adobe Analytics, which compares February 2020 online sales data with January 2020. The research firm bases its data on more than 1 trillion visits to more than 4,500 retail sites and measures transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers ranked in the Top 1000.
Many retailers have communicated with their customers via email or with a message on their website about how they are adapting to the coronavirus. For example, some retailers, such as bulk-shopping grocer Boxed Wholesale (No. 339 in the 2019 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000), have alerted shoppers that because of a surge in orders, they are wiped out of some products—like disinfectants—are putting limits on the quantities of items shoppers can buy, and shoppers may have a delay in shipments.
Luxury goods company LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE, which owns brands such as Louis Vuitton and cosmetics retailer Sephora, also joined the fight to help combat the coronavirus in France by making large quantities of hand sanitizer. The luxury goods brand said Sunday, March 15, that three of its cosmetic facilities would begin manufacturing hydro-alcoholic gel to be delivered to French health authorities for free starting March 16. The gel will be provided for as long as necessary, according to Bloomberg.
“LVMH intends to help address the risk of a lack of product in France and enable a greater number of people to continue to take the right action to protect themselves from the spread of the virus,” LVMH said in a statement.
Retailers in the Top 100 that have temporarily closed stores* because of the coronavirus include:
- Ulta Beauty
- Urban Outfitters
- Warby Parker
- Under Armour
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Lush Cosmetics
- Abercrombie & Fitch
- Williams Sonoma
- Crate and Barrel
- Victoria’s Secret
- Hudson’s Bay
- L.L. Bean
- Neiman Marcus
- Restoration Hardware
- Lands’ End
- American Eagle
- Calvin Klein
- Ann Taylor
- Ralph Lauren
*Updated as of March 19
The move is an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, retailers say.
Other retailers are discontinuing some store-based services, such as cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty (No. 91), which says it is stopping its skin, makeup, brow, lash and waxing services. Most retailers are encouraging more shoppers to shop online or in their app and to take advantage of omnichannel offerings. They are also enhancing store cleaning procedures and updating sick time policies for employees. Some retailers, however, have no operations hiccups.
Here is the latest update from retailers:
Walmart Inc.: The retail giant is reducing store hours in an effort to keep stores bettee stocked. It is also encouraging shoppers to shop on Walmart.com and try buy online pick up in stores services. “Many of you are already taking advantage of these services,” the retailer wrote. “If you’re not, this could be a good time to try online delivery or our store pickup options or to use the Walmart Pay feature of our app when paying at the register.”
Target Corp.: The retailer on March 7 limited the number of items shoppers could purchase for items such as cleaning products, medicine and non-perishable food, according to its website. Target also suggests shoppers use its omnichannel features, which include Drive Up, Shipt and buy online pick up in store.
Warby Parker: In light of closings its stores, the eyeglasses retailer is encouraging its shoppers to head to WarbyParker.com for its digital services. Its “prescription check” app, which allows shoppers to check and update their eyeglasses prescription, will remain live. The home glasses try-on program is still in operation, and for an alternative method, Warby Parker offers a virtual try-on tool on its mobile app, the retailer told customers in an email.
1-800-Contacts Inc.: The contacts retailer told shoppers that there haven’t been any disruptions to its supply chain since its contact lenses aren’t manufactured in China, and inventory shipments are still on schedule. It currently has more than 45 million contact lenses in stock. “If you need to order new contacts but have an expired prescription and want to limit unnecessary travel, you can use our online vision exam to renew your prescription from home. It’s free, only takes about 10 minutes to complete, and you’ll receive a new doctor-issued prescription within 24 hours,” 1-800-Contacts told shoppers in an email.
Lush: Before it temporarily closed its stores, the soap retailer offered free hand washing with no expectation of purchases. Now, however, it is telling its shoppers that “we have made the decision to keep our online business running so that our loyal customers can still access Lush products such as soap, which can be helpful during this critical time. With the reduced capacity across the business, our digital orders may take extra time to reach you and we appreciate your understanding and patience with our teams during this transition.” It is also offering free shipping on orders more than $40 through April 30. The retailer updated its shipping page to reflect this and does not list its previous free shipping threshhold.
Best Buy Co. Inc.: The electronics mass merchant encourages shoppers to shop online. “If you don’t feel well, or choose not to visit one of our stores, of course we are ready to serve you at BestBuy.com or through the Best Buy app,” Best Buy said in an email to customers.
Sephora: The cosmetics retailer is offering free standard shipping for online orders through the end of March because “we recognize you may choose to shop from home,” the retailer said in a note on its site. In addition, Sephora is not closing stores as of yet, but it is suspending all paid and free in-store services, makeup and skincare applications until further notice. It encourages shoppers to how to use its tools such as its Digital Makeover Guide and Virtual Artist for the time being.
Framebridge: The custom eyeglasses retailer is encouraging shoppers to head to Framebridge.com or use its mobile app. “We have a design team waiting to assist you virtually with any of your wonderful projects and gifts,” Framebridge said in an email to customers.
Fee People: The apparel retailer in an email encourages shoppers to “visit us via our website and app and chat with us through our social channels.”
Walgreens: The drug store retailer is offering free delivery on any purchase on Walgreens.com with no minimum purchase until further notice. Its usual threshhold is for orders over $35.
Ann Taylor: “We are also ready to serve you at every moment online,” the apparel retailer, owned by Ascena Retail Group, told customers in an email. “Our teams in our distribution centers across the country continue their daily cleaning to maintain a safe environment. Our contact centers are available to help answer any questions you might have about your experience. And our websites, Facebook and Instagram accounts are always available for inspiration—sometimes we all need a short break from the news.”
Boxed Wholesale: Due to a surge in orders, the bulk supplies retailer is seeing delays in shipments. On its site, a banner at the top says customers’ orders could be delayed for four or more days.
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.: The home goods retailer has implemented limits on purchasing certain items and encourages shoppers to use its reserve online and pick up in store option, it said in an email.
Buy Buy Baby: The baby supplies chain, owned by Bed Bath & Beyond, in an email told customers that it has implemented limits on certain purchases of in-demand items, such as food and diapers. Buy Buy Baby also suggests taking advantage of its reserve online pick up in store option.
Office Depot Inc.: The office supplies retailer suggested in an email that customers may want to shop on OfficeDepot.com and then pick up items in store or have orders delivered to their home.
Macy’s Inc.: “We are here for you 24/7 through Macys.com and on our mobile app,” the retailer said in an email.
Stella & Dot: Through the end of March, accessories retailer Stella & Dot is donating 20% of its net proceeds to No Kid Hungry Campaign, which works to end hunger and poverty for kids in the U.S. and abroad, due to school closures around the country. It is also waiving standard shipping fees through the end of March on StellaDot.com and Ca.StellaDot.com, it said in an email.
Elements: The Chicago-based gifts retailer is giving shoppers the opportunity for a private tour of its store using Facetime so shoppers can see daily new arrivals and pick out gifts, it wrote in an email to customers. Elements will ship small items for free or deliver to shoppers personally if they are located within Chicago.Favorite