Online retailers continue to change and adapt their operations because of the coronavirus—called COVID-19—outbreak. 71% of the 62 retailers in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 100 that operate retail stores have closed all their stores due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is up from 50% on March 18. Digital Commerce 360 ranks the top North American retailers based on their global ecommerce sales.
Plus, 75% of retailers in the Top 100 have a coronavirus-related message on their site. That’s up from 60% of retailers who had messaging on their site on March 18.
While most retailers have a banner on the homepage to alert shoppers as to what they’re doing to support customers and employees during the outbreak, Restoration Hardware (No. 57 in the Top 1000) has gone a step further. A message from its CEO Gary Friedman overtakes the entire homepage:
Digital Commerce 360 staff checked the ecommerce sites of the Top 100 retailers today from 9 a.m.-12 p.m CT, but even during that time retailers posted changes. This information is up to date as of 12 p.m CT, March 23.
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
- Game Stop
- Gap Inc. (Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta, Hill City)
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
- J. Crew
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Follett Higher Education
*Updated as of March 23.
Last week, Target Corp. (No. 16 in the Top 1000) and grocery chain Albertsons Marketplace (No. 204) gave senior citizens and shoppers with health concerns dedicated times to shop. Now, Target is giving its store and distribution center employees a dedicated time to shop in the hour before the store opens every Monday, Friday and Saturday.
“Setting aside time for our team members to shop for household essentials is one more way Target is investing in our team during a pivotal time,” says Arthur Valdez, chief supply chain and logistics officer. “This is a recognition of our team’s incredible dedication, and our commitment to help all families.”
In addition, Target plans to invest more than $300 million in added wages, a new paid leave program, bonus payouts and relief fund contributions. All full-time and part-time hourly team members working in stores and distribution centers will receive a $2-per-hour wage increase through at least May 2.
Retailers add curbside pickup
13% of the retailers in the Top 100 offer curbside pickup. While that is part of some retailers’ normal practices, such as Walmart, some retailers are implementing the service for the first time as a response to the pandemic.
As of March 22, only Game Stop (No. 46) employees are allowed in its stores as the video game retailer institutes its own version of curbside pickup called [email protected] at all store locations in the U.S. After shoppers place an online order for pickup at their local store and their order is ready, they must contact the store directly to let a store employee know they’re waiting outside.
Fabric retailer Joann (No. 394 in the Top 1000) and crafts retailer Michaels (No. 249) also have implemented curbside pickup for the first time (although they have not closed their stores at the time of publication). The retailers instruct shoppers to order buy online pick up in store, call the store upon arrival and provide their name, order number and vehicle make/color.
“As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Retailers like Michaels and Joann have made it possible to do business with them in these unprecedented times,” says Lauren Freedman, senior consumer insights analyst at Digital Commerce 360. “I tested the two craft retailers and both were flawless. In the case of Michaels, my order was ready in 32 minutes. The needs of shoppers remain and retailers are putting a positive spin on a dire situation to help save their businesses and meet the needs of shoppers.”
But there are retailers who are taking this perk away as they close stores instead. Nordstrom, for example, normally has curbside pickup and buy online pick up in store, but it has temporarily suspended this service since all its stores are closed.
Barnes & Nobles Booksellers (No. 94) has closed its stores but is still advertising curbside pickup on a large banner on its homepage.
Best Buy encourages its shoppers to “pick up your order at your local store and we’ll bring it to your car.” Additionally, curbside pickup, “also extends to returns and exchanges, the period for which has been extended on most products so that you have more time.” This means shoppers can return products from their cars, even though the electronics retailer is giving them more time. Purchases made March 1-April 15 at Best Buy now have an extended return period through April 29.
19% of retailers in the Top 100 have changed their return policy. They’ve either extended the time shoppers have to return items or, in the case of Kroger, suspended it entirely.
“Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and our inability to monitor products that have left our stores, we are declining all returns (including refunds, store credits and product exchanges) for the safety of our customers and associates,” Kroger wrote on its site.
Game Stop also is not accepting returns, exchanges or video game trade-ins through its [email protected] program, citing safety issues.
Kohl’s is among retailers extending their return policies. Usually, the store accepts returns within 180 days, but it is extending it to 30 days after the stores reopen, even if it is outside that 180-day window. Additionally, it’s Amazon Online Return Centers in stores are temporarily closed while its stores are closed.
Retailers amp up philanthropy
A few retailers donating funds or supplies to charitable causes during this troubling time. 10 of the retailers in the Top 100 are providing support to a cause, including:
- Walmart Inc. (No. 3) announced it and the Walmart Foundation will donate $25 million to organizations responding to the outbreak. That includes $5 million to support global efforts to help countries prevent, detect and manage the coronavirus; $10 million to support food banks, school meal programs and organizations that provide access to food for underserved populations; and $10 million to support efforts in local communities in the United States and international markets. Additionally, two federal sites located in Walmart Supercenter parking lots opened in the Chicago area to serve first responders and healthcare workers who have potentially been exposed to the coronavirus.
- Target says The Target Foundation will be giving $10 million to expand relief and assistance to its employees, as well as local, national and global organizations responding to the pandemic. And it plans to set up temporary testing locations for consumers who think they may have the coronavirus, the retailer said. “We’re currently working with officials and task force partners to identify select Target real estate that can serve as temporary testing locations, and on the specific testing details,” Target wrote.
- The Kroger Co. (No. 17) says The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation is committing $3 million to “support our neighbors in this critical time of need.”
- Lowe’s Cos. Inc. (No. 23) is committing $25 million to support its associates, customers and communities, which includes a $10 million donation in essential protective products for medical professionals.
- HP Home & Home Office Store (No. 61), which sells computers, printers and office supplies, says it is donating millions of dollars in technology to help students, families and communities. It is also “mobilizing our 3D-printing team and HP’s digital manufacturing partner network to design, validate and produce essential parts for medical responders and hospitals. This includes parts such as ventilator valves, breathing filters and face mask clasps, as well as entirely new parts such as plastic door handle adaptors which enable easy elbow opening to prevent further spread of the virus,” the retailer wrote in a press release. “We will make available any HP proprietary design files for these parts so they can be produced anywhere in the world.”
- Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1) says it is investing $20 million to accelerate diagnostic research, innovation and development “to speed our collective understanding and detection of COVID-19 and other innovate diagnostic solutions to mitigate future infectious disease outbreaks.”
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