The state of the world economy is tumbling due to the Coronavirus pandemic of 2019 and 2020. In the past month, the American stock market has lost roughly 35% of its total value (and we predict it will lose more). Streets are empty. Restaurants have closed worldwide. Mom and pop retail stores have shut their doors. Companies in sectors like the aviation and hotel industries are unfortunately on their way to either bankruptcy or bailouts. However, the eCommerce industry is one sector where merchant businesses will benefit from the Coronavirus pandemic. In fact, small online businesses are currently seeing surges in order volume, and several shipping software companies have reported doing holiday-level volumes over the past week.
Some Independent Small Online Businesses Are Seeing a Boost from the Coronavirus Pandemic
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are staying home and working remotely than ever before. This means they’re spending more time online, and consequently, spending more money online. That’s good news for online merchants, since they have the ability to process and fulfill orders from within their own homes.
Small Businesses Lean on the Shipping Carriers to Deliver Despite the Pandemic
Despite the current outbreak, all three major shipping carriers are still delivering in the United States (minus some small operational disruptions). In fact, the government just deemed all transportation and logistics companies “essential” during this time. As a result, all companies in this sector are to remain operational. This includes the US Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx—the three carriers that make the wheel of American eCommerce go round.
One way small businesses can still operate during the Coronavirus pandemic is to use the internet and shipping carriers to their advantage. For example, online shipping software companies allow users to purchase and print discounted shipping labels from home. In addition, people who use specific USPS shipping software can even schedule free pickups from their local letter carrier. Therefore, they can still run their businesses and fulfill orders while practicing social distancing and, in some extreme cases, self-isolation.
Simply put, using shipping software is the best way for businesses to stay open and remain “contactless” during this time.
While Pandemic Fears May Help Small eCommerce Operations, Amazon-Based Businesses Will Hurt
While some small online merchants are seeing increases in order volumes, businesses that rely on Amazon are now in a tough spot. Amazon announced on Tuesday that it is suspending shipments of all non-essential items to its warehouses until further notice. That means nothing gets sold and shipped on Amazon except items like toilet paper, food, medical equipment, and water bottles. This suspension will singlehandedly cripple small businesses that exclusively use Amazon’s marketplace to sell their products.
“Amazon just put tons of businesses out of business. Destroyed thousands of jobs amidst a crisis,” one seller wrote on Amazon’s Fulfilled By Amazon forums. “Horrible joke. Absolute joke. No warning. Expect major lawsuits coming from sellers who now will go bankrupt.”
On the other hand, the gap this suspension creates is an opportunity for other merchants that don’t rely on Amazon’s marketplace to benefit from the Coronavirus pandemic. Independent merchants who use separate platforms like Shopify, Etsy, and others can now step up and fulfill the demand for online orders.
Pandemic or no pandemic, people need goods. There is no getting around that. However, “shelter in place” orders now prevents them from going outside to get them like they normally would. As a result, there is more demand now for online orders than ever. Thanks to the fully operational logistics and shipping industry (and Amazon locking out non-essential goods), independent eCommerce businesses may be positioned to uniquely benefit from the “stay at home” culture the world now finds itself in.