Through the recent decade, analysts from all over the world are providing us with research and statistical data saying about the rising revenues for merchants in top e-commerce niches and the continual increase in the number of online shoppers for them. No doubts, these researches help startupers and merchants to assess the competition and make thought-out decisions for further business development.
The Whidegroup team is no exception. We always keep an eye on the fresh data coming from respectable sources (e.g. Statista, GlobalWebIndex, and others) to see the state of e-commerce industries as well as e-commerce software trends projections and apply the hottest trends to our clients’ e-commerce stores.
Recently, the e-commerce market has experienced dramatic changes that have somehow affected the habitual development of online businesses in popular e-commerce niches. We’ve analyzed 20+ respectable sources/articles, posted at the very end of 2019 year and related to e-commerce niches and trends, and came to the conclusion that none of them has much to do with reality these days. That is why we decided to have a bird’s eye view on the situation and provide our readers with up-to-date information on the state of the world e-commerce market.
Why Did Trends in E-commerce Niches Change?
Most of the existing e-commerce businesses in different niches experience a critical decrease in conversions while others claim their sales skyrocketed by 200%, 300%, and even 1000%.
Dramatic changes we are going to discuss in this article are all happening due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that took place in early 2020 and now continues to spread throughout the world. Today we see the new world with closed brick-and-mortar stores, with no restaurants to have dinner at, with no open sports complexes, and people who are forbidden to leave their homes without an emergency.
These changes forced small and medium-sized retail businesses to rapidly switch from local sales to online retail. Consumers, in their turn, have to change their purchasing habits and overestimate their purchasing power. As a result, thousands of businesses all over the world try to stay afloat during these hard times by urgently transitioning their local retail activities online, and consumers spend more and more time online for both shopping and entertainment.
One of the recent surveys, conducted by Statista among retail business owners, showed that almost 50% of US business owners expect a significant drop in sales. And only 14% of respondents said that they expect no downside revenue implications.
Another way to see the real state of e-commerce is to analyze customer behavior and to understand changes in the traffic to online stores operating in different niches.
Below you see the graph provided by Ubersuggest and showcasing the changes in traffic in several e-commerce niches that have occurred as a result of an epidemic.
Although this graph does not show the full picture of the changes taking place in all existing industries, it can be taken as a basis for a general understanding of the worldwide e-commerce market situation.
While somebody might say that starting an e-commerce business right now is far not a good idea, we at Whidegroup claim that every crisis can be taken differently. You either go with the flow and just wait until the crisis is over and everything falls into place, or you grab the opportunity, adapt to the situation, analyze the market, and make your services meet increased demand in the market.
Below we will review the top e-commerce niches and product categories that deserve the most attention today.
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New TOP 4 E-commerce Niches on the Rise NOW
Looking back at the graph by Ubersuggest, we see 5 categories of goods the flow of traffic to which has grown significantly over the several past weeks. These are: finance, food, media, healthcare, and pharma. Unfortunately, we do not know the details about the services provided or products sold by online stores related to each represented category. In addition, Whidegroup does not have direct access to large amounts of traffic and conversions data from a large sample of online stores. However, to find out which particular product categories are now on-demand, we do not need all this. Actually, it is not so hard even to guess the top selling products online. So let’s give it a try and consider the most popular products to sell online from March, 2020.
#1 Food delivery
Food is not just valuable, but a vital commodity for every person. In terms of online shopping, this niche has always been seen as an opportunity for restaurants and local cafes to organize courier delivery of dishes from the menu. Much less often, consumers used grocery delivery services from the local supermarkets. However, today these services are gaining immense popularity and become a great opportunity for retailers as well as startups to reshape their business processes and fulfill the rising market demand.
Different large to small-sized businesses operating in the consumer goods industry report huge spikes in demand for the grocery delivery. For example, according to Rakuten Intelligence, the order volume from the full assortment grocery stores rose by 210% between March 12 and March 15. These stores include Amazon Fresh service, Instacart Inc., Walmart To Go, and others.
The BOPIS (buy online pickup in store) model has also become increasingly popular and now is a great opportunity for businesses willing to meet the demand and follow e-commerce trends.
Currently, the grocery giant, Walmart sees the historical rise in demand for its product delivery services. Since March, 1 the level of interest in Walmart delivery services around the US has increased more than four times, from 23 to 100 points.
As for the United Kingdom, Morrisons has faced an unseen spike in popularity, specifically its food boxes delivery services.
At the beginning of March, when the epidemic reached Europe, and the USA, panic buying of essential products was observed in most retail grocery chains. Now when the population has become convinced that there are no problems with the product supply and when the store shelves are full again, the majority of the population have the opportunity to self-isolate and order the necessary products online. So let’s see the big picture of what the consumers have been looking for.
Here is the graph showcasing the worldwide popularity of the “food delivery” online requests over the past year. According to Google Trends, this request has the highest interest in Singapore. The next 4 places in the popularity rating are occupied by the USA, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the UK, respectively.
The same we see with the “online grocery” query. The highest level of interest is observed in Sri Lanka, UAE, Philippines, Qatar, and Singapore.
Using this methodology, we can get an overview of any query people all over the world might be interested in and, taken seriously, these trends can give you a priceless idea of how to adjust your business for the current changes.
To underline the aforementioned facts, we would like to add that if you want your business to prosper during these hard times, you should grasp all the challenges in online grocery business and make sure to set-up a strong online store prepared for high traffic loads and a reliable back office team ready to process the rising number of orders.
Another dramatic change in popularity has occurred in the e-learning industry. Resources like Coursera, Kaltura and the like, are quite popular. For example, according to Semrush, in March 2020 the amount of traffic to Coursera, the platform providing online training and courses from top institutions, has reached 1,06 million which is about 100 thousand visitors more than in January 2020.
However, the upcoming changes will mainly affect resources and online learning platforms that provide distance learning opportunities for schoolchildren and students. Due to the closure of full-time institutions for an indefinite period, millions of students around the world as well as their teachers and professors are massively switching to online education.
“If this had happened 10 years ago, the whole system would be crippled. We didn’t have phones with cameras on them, for one,” – said Jeff Maggioncalda, the CEO of Coursera in one of his interviews.
Indeed, 10 and even 5 years ago none of the technologies would have withstood the flow of online users that we observe today. Just look at the spikes in the interest for the “learn from home” and “learn online” options available online:
However, there are still numerous issues to be fixed and features to be improved within existing e-learning software and technology. Such need has become obvious after numerous tutors claim that none of existing platforms meets all their needs, and that they have to use several types of software to fulfill every need of e-learning. There are too many hurdles the distance learning will have to overcome. For example, Erol Kepkep, the lab manager at a large lab course, Bio1AL, says:
“There are a lot of hurdles. And that still does not address how to have exams, which have typically been in-class multiple choice. It’s going to be a challenge to fairly test what students have learned, while coordinating with everyone in different time zones and (with) variable internet connectivity.”
Today it is hard to define the best online learning platform or online courses. There are too many of them offering both free and paid classes specialized for numerous industries and niches.
The upcoming shift to online education is a great opportunity to develop an online tutoring platform that will take e-learning to the next level.
#3 Toys & Hobbies
Today people all over the world spend more time at home than ever. The consequences of such changes are particularly acute for families with children. Kids stopped attending sports sections, kindergartens, and all types of learning and developing activities. As a result, parents have to not only work from home but at the same time take an active part in the development and education of their children, as well as come up with exciting activities that children should be engaged with, while their parents are working.
Obviously, educational toys, kids craft kits, and all kinds of toys keeping children busy for a long time are taken as a salvation of the problem. As a result, online stores offering the widest selection of toys are pushed into the lead and get hundreds and thousands of new customers in a matter of days. According to Semrush, Wowwee has lately seen a total of 20% spike in traffic to the website. Their search traffic increased by 85%, and paid traffic increased by 479%. Impressive, isn’t it?
Just take a look at the growth trends of online toys sales taking place in South Korea during the pandemic outbreak:
Adults, in their turn, also need to have a rest and change their activities. Someone chooses game consoles, others switch to handicrafts or embark on the implementation of long-conceived DIY ideas. We can observe these trends on the graphs below.
However, there is one challenge that precedes all these activities – finding an online store to quickly inexpensively and safely buy the necessary stuff from. Numerous stores like Swingdesign and ScrapYourTrip are now seeing 30% to 225% spikes in traffic.
So if you have been thinking about starting an e-commerce business in the field of handicrafts or creative arts supplies this is your chance to implement your boldest ideas.
#4 Coffee Shops
Although coffee shops are related to the Food & Drinks industry, we want to highlight them as another best niche for e-commerce in 2020. Coffee is a whole culture that has lately been actively developing around the world. Thousands of coffee shops and coffee houses greeted their visitors with unique varieties of coffee beans, as well as special methods of roasting and brewing gourmet coffee drinks. At any time, anyone could visit their favourite coffee shop and treat themselves with a favorite drink while enjoying the cozy atmosphere and a pleasant conversation with a friend.
With the advent of the pandemic, this possibility has disappeared. But on the other hand, coffee lovers have not gone anywhere. Most coffee houses still provide take-away opportunities, and coffee suppliers, in their turn, offer gourmets the services of coffee beans roasting and delivering them directly to the customer’s door.
In Australia, for example, as a result of such changes in the market, online coffee sales grew by 48% and coffee has become one of the most popular products during the pandemic, along with flour, frozen vegetables, cooking oil and other essentials.
If we consider each online coffee shop separately, we will see that not everyone is seeing impressive spikes in traffic and sales. Some online stores are losing ground and customers. For example, Happy Mug Coffee, a wholesale company providing coffee for resale as well as selling different coffee roasts and blends direct to consumer through the website by both subscription and one-time sale model, has lately seen a great spike in traffic. Namely, 95% more search traffic and 381% more visitors from referral traffic.
At the same time, Mistobox, an online coffee shop providing coffee roasting and delivery services on a subscription model, are not so lucky. Over the past month, the flow of visitors to their site has fallen markedly. Their organic traffic decreased by 40%, traffic from advertising fell by 43%, and direct traffic decreased by about 22%.
As in any business, with an online coffee business, there are many reasons for success or failure. However, your UVP (Unique Value Proposition), the advantages that the client receives when buying from your store, and customers’ loyalty which you can maintain implementing customer loyalty programs, have always been and remain the fundamental factor of success. In addition, the e-commerce website structure, design, and performance play an important role as well. So if you are interested in an opportunity of starting a coffee business online but don’t know where to start and how to make it profitable, feel free to contact us anytime.
Despite the fact that small and medium-sized businesses are suffering the most, and some of them are not able to stay afloat during these hard times, we can see how the e-commerce market is changing and make our own conclusions on how to survive. An in-depth analysis of the e-commerce market makes it possible to identify the most profitable e-commerce niches and product categories in 2020. A competitive analysis of these niches helps to identify the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, and form a unique value proposition, which will help to attract the maximum number of potential customers.
There is a single obvious conclusion – today, for retail businesses operating in any industry, the only way to survive is to build a strong online presence and use the maximum of available tools to reach their customers. Just launching an e-commerce website is not enough. You should think several steps ahead and be prepared for the new market fluctuations that we will most probably face in the nearest future.
So if you need a more indepth information about the recent e-commerce market trends or need some assistance with building or improving your online store, feel free to contact us at any time, and we will do our best to help you not only survive hard times, but also to build a strong and scalable online representation for your business ready for further growth.