Coronavirus: retailers taking a digital approach to wholesale, says HIM

Usage of wholesalers’ apps hit a record high in the week commencing 15 March, as the coronavirus outbreak caused more and more retailers to give digital ordering a try. That’s according to the new HIM Wholesale eCommerce (Retail) Report 2020.

The report also suggests Covid-19 has caused a significant shift away from brand-specific searches by retailers using digital wholesale channels. Data collected between March 11-25 showed:

  • A 1,308% increase in searches for ‘pasta’
  • A 1,371% in searches for ‘toilet roll’
  • Almost 5,000 unique searches for ‘germs’ – up 722%.

This represents a change in direction for keyword tagging. The household and non-food categories have grown their share of the top 100 search terms from just 3% to 29% as retailers attempt to keep their shelves full of items which would previously not have made it anywhere near the ‘favourites’ list.

Ellen Codd, Insights Manager at HIM & MCA Insight, said: “Due to consumers stockpiling essential items, such as household and grocery items, demand for certain products has soared. Retailers are having to stock up more frequently, which is clear from the significant increase in searches and increased frequency of transactional sessions on wholesaler websites.

“There is a definite change in search behaviour, as searches move from brand to product focused, and in the case of searches such as ‘germs’, retailers are focused on finding any appropriate products to keep stores stocked. It is important that products are tagged with alternative terms, such as hand sanitiser and hand gel, to ensure the correct product is returned after a search for similar keywords.”

The report was conducted using retailer web analytics data derived from over three million web sessions between March 2019 and March 2020 from three major GB wholesalers, together with customer app analytics derived from wholesale retail customer usage between March 2019 and March 2020 from five major GB wholesalers.