The impact of the COVID-19 virus has affected every part of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) and retail industries and the net effect is that it’s forcing businesses into a digital transformation. In one of our last blog posts, we addressed some ways you can futureproof your CPG business with digital practices. Well now, brands and retailers left and right are leveraging new technologies to keep moving forward during this crisis. Below we’ll cover some of the ways companies are transforming their businesses with the help of technology. 

E-commerce Boost

With billions of people on lockdown or ordered to stay inside to help prevent the spread of the virus, the number of web orders has significantly increased since the beginning of this year. In the United States and Canada, web-only retailers have seen a 52% increase in orders and primarily brick-and-mortar retailers have seen a 56% increase in online orders. This number grew even higher for grocery retailers as consumers stocked up on essentials before the quarantine, and continue to do so. Total online sales for grocers over the past month have increased by 233% since August 2019 while store traffic has fallen by 45%. Consequently, businesses in the CPG industry that may have once been primarily brick-and-mortar are seeing the value in a digital transformation and building out their e-commerce websites to support sales. 

Delivery Services Slammed with Demand

Delivery apps have seen record downloads and are in high demand during this crisis. Consumers want to limit their exposure to other people and delivery apps can provide no person-to-person contact as most deliveries are left on front doorsteps. And this is especially true for grocery delivery apps such as Instacart, Walmart Grocery, Shipt. In comparison to downloads just a few months earlier, Instacart, Walmart Grocery, and Shipt have seen their daily downloads surge by 218%, 160%, and 124%, respectively. Normally, Instacart and Walmart Grocery see as many as 20,000+ downloads per day. But in early March, Instacart saw over 38,500 downloads and Walmart Grocery saw nearly 54,000 downloads per day. Target is another major retailer seeing an increase in their app downloads. Target’s app saw more than 53,100 daily downloads; a month ago, it was seeing an average of 25,000 downloads. 

Brands will continue to lean on retailers (and their own e-commerce sites) and retailers will continue to lean on delivery services to get products to consumers. But with high demand for online orders, retailers and delivery services are experiencing delays in how quickly they can get products to customers. 

Virtual Events Save Sourcing

Travel restrictions and large gatherings are prohibited, trade shows and events continue to get canceled or postponed, but several companies have shifted to virtual events or digital content to support their business goals. We’ve seen retailers continue their discovery of products, despite trade show cancellations, by turning to digital technologies. For example, retailers, distributors, and trade organizations can host online product sourcing campaigns in place of trade shows that have been canceled as Thrive Market, KeHE, Fresh Thyme, Albertsons, Meijer, and several other retailers have done so far. Another way retailers and brands can connect are through leveraging technological conferencing for virtual face-to-face opportunities. Companies like ECRM are leveraging virtual technologies, such as their Efficient Supplier Introductions (ESIs), which is are virtually hosted events in place of their in-person events. Who knows, if both retailers and brands prefer these virtual events, it might become the go-to strategy moving forward. 

A New Marketing Element

That leads us to another important contribution to your marketing strategy in this digital transformation–social media. Social distancing is keeping people home, and subsequently, is affecting the amount of time consumers are spending on social media. Facebook reported that in countries where the virus has hit the hardest they’ve seen a 50% increase in total messaging and 70% more time spent on their apps. That includes Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. In the United States alone, on average, 50% of people are using their phones, 42% are watching TV, and 35% their laptops. Now, more than ever, companies should boost their digital marketing strategy and leverage social media in several ways for better engagement. There are multiple strategies for doing so, such as allocating resources to increase the number of paid social media ads your company has and getting creative by producing more educational content opportunities across platforms on how to use your products. 

The digital transformation of the consumer packaged goods industry is happening. Brands and retailers are committing full force to new technologies to keep the industry moving forward and keep up with demand and retain customer interest. Stay tuned as we will explore each of these topics further and share more information on how leveraging technology right now can benefit your business during this challenging and changing time.

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