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East Vs. West: What Marketers Can Learn From Consumers' Response To The Pandemic

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While most businesses suffer hardships from time to time, the pandemic has only increased the frightening dominance of giants like Alibaba and Amazon. Many people are relying on online services right now, and e-commerce businesses have seen strong competition in both the East and the West markets.

When analyzing e-commerce opinions around the world, my team at Revuze witnessed some differences in how retail and e-commerce have adjusted across Europe and North America vs. Asia-Pacific.

In this article, I will cover the similarities and differences of e-commerce strategies for the East and the West amid the pandemic, and what marketers can take away.

The Impact Of Covid-19 On Businesses Around The World
The pandemic is shaking up businesses and consumer behavior (subscription required) on a massive scale. Around 20% of small and medium-sized companies may have to close their businesses for good, according to Marion Jansen, chief economist of the United Nation's International Trade Centre.

Meanwhile, the pandemic is pushing industries to e-commerce. Businesses that can embrace digital transformation on time can actually benefit from the pandemic. For example, traditional businesses and plenty of stores are moving online (subscription required), and more can learn from the retail giants and start to use digital platforms to serve their customers.

The impact of the post-pandemic economy on businesses worldwide is inevitable. In both the East and the West, the pandemic has taken a toll on the fashion industry, with an expected 27% to 30% (subscription required) decrease in global revenue in 2020. But there are also some differences between e-commerce in the East and the West.

E-Commerce In The East
Overall, Asia has seen significant growth in e-commerce since the pandemic began, as many consumers have preferred to shop online under lockdown. In fact, more than half of consumers planned to do more of their shopping online due to the pandemic.

The gross merchandise value on Shopee, one of the largest Southeast Asia e-commerce platforms, for example, reportedly increased by 74%, reaching more than $6 billion in the first quarter of 2020. And in Shanghai, China, a shopping festival in which many e-commerce platforms participated made $2.2 billion in 24 hours.

In Hong Kong, leading banks and card companies launched new campaigns to capture the online shopping trend. For example, Visa launched a package in partnership with local e-commerce platform Boutir to help small merchants sell online and expand their revenue sources.

E-Commerce In The West
According to a report by eMarketer, e-commerce is expected to increase by 18% this year in the U.S. amid the pandemic. The report explained that e-commerce sales are now largely driven by a click-and-collect approach, allowing consumers to make purchases with minimum human contact.

For instance, Costco Wholesale expanded its e-commerce offerings, including same-day delivery and click-and-collect options for most of its locations. Other brands, such as Walmart, have tried to stay competitive by providing value-added services — more options for consumers to take more actions on their platforms.

There's also a great change in consumers' behaviors in Germany, the United Kingdom and the U.S. While they have reduced their spending on out-of-the-home entertainment due to Covid-19, they're spending more on health and hygiene products, cleaning products and home entertainment.

Marketing Lessons To Take Away
Though the pandemic has had negative impacts on most businesses, many are working toward creating opportunities for themselves. So, what can you learn from these global examples?

1. Embrace e-commerce platforms and partnerships. Learning from the East, the sooner you utilize e-commerce platforms, the easier you can keep your business running in spite of external factors that are out of your control, such as the pandemic. Partnering with other e-commerce companies can enable you to reach a wider range of customers.

2. Adapt the click-and-collect strategy. While the click-and-collect strategy is definitely a trend because of this global pandemic, in the long run, it still makes sense to expand your offering with curbside pickup. With more and more consumers looking for a fast and convenient shopping experience, this will likely continue to be an effective selling model.

3. Put more marketing emphasis on necessities and at-home entertainment. It's also time to put more emphasis on products that are considered necessities to consumers. For instance, health and well-being are topics lots of people care about these days — how can your products align with these needs? Further, what can you offer to keep your consumers entertained while at home?

The future is still bright if you can shift your business mindset quickly enough and adapt to the latest trends and consumers' needs, no matter where you're running your business.