Managing Unseasonal Spikes in Online Buying in Light of COVID-19

The coronavirus crisis has impacted the world’s economy in an unprecedented manner. GlobalData predicts the UK retail industry will see a loss of £12.6bn this year due to retail stores being forced to closed.

UK supermarkets saw a record sales increase of 20.6% during March, as members of the public stocked up for the lockdown. The main reason this figure isn’t higher is due to the ability to shop online.

Short-Term Impact on the E-commerce Sector

E-commerce businesses have seen drastic changes in online traffic due to the lockdown. Non-essential high street stores have closed, resulting in a boom in internet shopping. Moreover, even when buying items available from retail outlets that have remained open, consumers are minimising contact with others by shopping online.

Traffic to online retail stores such as Tesco has shot up by 161% since 16th February 2020. Customers are fighting for delivery slots and putting a strain on the logistical capacity of these businesses.

Due to the nature of the sector, the supply chain for many e-commerce businesses remains unaffected. Factory workers are still packing orders and delivery drivers are out on the roads.

Long-Term Impact on the E-commerce Sector

This lockdown period may result in the e-commerce sector stealing some market share from high street stores. It is likely that some consumers who never used to shop online will continue to do so after the lockdown ends. This may come as a blow to the UK’s already struggling high street.

Tips for New Businesses in the E-commerce Sector

In the e-commerce sector, user experience is crucial. If a consumer doesn’t like your website, they may go elsewhere. Unless you have a unique product, you risk losing customers if you don’t follow these tips:

  1. Use SEO to bring more traffic to your website.
  2. Engage with your customers by using social media platforms and live chat to answer queries.
  3. Improve user experience by enhancing the usability of your website and the ease of checkout.
  4.  Ensure your delivery lead time commitments are realistic and provide tracking links where possible.

How to Scale Up Your Operations

It is important to focus on your logistical capacity to ensure you can always meet customer demand. However, due to the nature of some seasonal businesses, combined with the current uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, it can be difficult to handle spikes in demand.

Scaling up your operations to meet these spikes is important to ensure your customers are satisfied and remain loyal to your brand. Investing in more staff or a larger warehouse will allow you to increase throughput. However, this invariably involves a significant financial investment.

Using a 3PL partner may be a sensible alternative option.

Benefits of Using a 3PL Partner

  1. Save money – using a 3PL provider eliminates the need to invest in warehouse space, technology, transportation and staff.
  2. Free up time to focus on other activities.
  3. Benefit from industry expertise – 3PL partners can leverage discounts and have an established resource network.


EC Group provides bespoke logistical support that you can rely on, backed-up by exceptional customer service support. Partnering with EC Group will allow you to quickly react to spikes in demand, whilst saving you time and money to spend on other core business opportunities.

To find out how your business could benefit from a 3PL provider, please contact EC Group to discuss your logistical requirements.