Alas, all is not lost as we start to head towards recovery. Although the world of e-commerce may recover faster than other sectors of the economy there is still a lot to look forward to. We are starting to observe a lot of different types of innovation especially in the e-commerce space and these developments are going to be good for consumers and the rest of the economy too. If this crisis has taught us anything it has taught us that online businesses and physical businesses can work in a more closely aligned way.
Based upon our observations here are some companies and segments that are innovating and succeeding as we start to head towards recovery from COVID-19.
First, Home furnishing products, especially specialty lifestyle products are soaring. Despite the fact that many folks are unemployed those who are still employed and homebound are spending money on their homes, home offices, gardens and patios.
This pandemic is boosting pre-summer buying cycles that retailers in this segment already experience. Companies catering to people‘s needs in this area are doing really well in this crisis. They are also positioned to do really well for a long time afterwards.
Take a look at SoloStove.com and Ooni.com. The first is a bonfire / firepit product that is super easy to use and portable and the second is a portable pizza oven.These are two product companies that provide a lot of joy to people that need to be staying at home and entertaining family and close friends. Both have exceptionally easy purchasing experiences in which the products are bulletproof. Since the number of backyard bonfires and backyard cooking experiences are only going to grow, even as we head out of recovery, these two single product companies that really only sell online are positioned to do fantastically well in the months to come.
Health and Wellness
Next, although medical health procedures and health and wellness procedures that are elective have taken a hit over the last few months we see a huge rebound coming fast and coming very soon. In addition as people come out of their quarantine cocoons there is going to be a big push for exercise and getting in shape, so exercise equipment and nutrition supplements that are healthy and all natural are going to take off.
We have one client that has two sites that supplies the massage therapy business. Bodyworkmall.com and massagewarehouse.com are both positioned to do extremely well as the recovery begins and as consumers catch up on their elective health needs.
We are not at all surprised that nutrition and health adviser Noom.com is reporting surprisingly good numbers even since the Covid-19 crisis began.
Start up fitness apparel companies like No Bull are also poised to capitalize during the recovery. People are outfitting their home gyms with new equipment and exercise apparatus in record numbers.
Once you compare the numbers of attending a Pella Thahn (Read: Peloton, in a Boston accent) class versus buying your own machine and thinking about the risk of attending a class in person it’s really not a question of if but when more people are going to purchase high-end in-home equipment that also allows the ability to be a part of a community.
Next think about the attention all of our four-legged friends are getting as a part of this crisis. People are walking their dogs more; people are buying things for their cats more than they have in the past, and one of the more positive stories to come out of the pandemic is that shelter in place has created an environment to enable a ‘boom’ in animal adoption, leaving many animal shelters empty for the first time ever.
As a result, pet supply companies with a strong online presence are booming – whether they are the large e-commerce supply firms that have been successful for a long time supplying large box large volume quantities to consumers (like Chewy) or whether they are the smaller specialty brands this segment is soaring, online. The overall pet supply segment numbers are down during the Covid-19 crisis but that is because physical retail stores have been closed. We see a huge rebound across all parts of this segment as soon as stores begin to re-open it will balance nicely with the online surge.
Dining Out, While Staying In
Last but not least, let’s talk about a segment of the economy that has been hurt drastically. Obviously restaurants in commercial food prep have been seriously seriously damaged. But there is a lot of hope on the horizon. There is a lot of innovation that we already see and believe is going to happen in the space that will require new transactional experiences and applications. While restaurants may not be able to seat as many people as they move out of the recovery, what is going to happen is the ability of consumers to plan special gatherings and events that are still providing restaurants with revenue. When is someone going to invent an app that allows you to set up a dining experience at home with your favorite restaurant including waiters and bartenders serving you? Some examples of how this is already happening include:
- Converting dine-in venues to enable drive through pickup
- Adapting the business model to sell food in bulk meal boxes, and
- Bakeries and Pizzerias offering DIY at home baking-kits and pizza-making kits instead
For more details on restaurant innovations, check out this great article from Forbes.
However it happens, we predict that the restaurant industry will evolve to serve many more consumers at home and that will be happening as soon as this Summer. Perhaps the big players like GrubHub and EZCater will first take advantage of this need but there’s plenty of room for other niche players to get involved here.
The Bottom Line
We are just beginning to see some of the innovation and the creativity which is lending itself to an incredible rebound in the e-commerce space during the COVID-19 recovery. Both while states remain in lockdown and as companies start considering ways to re-open as these shelter-in-place restrictions start to relax, there’s no doubt that the ‘new normal’ being forced on the world with force innovation and business model changes that technology and e-commerce will be a large part of enabling.
Let us know if we can help field your ideas with thoughts on how to make execution happen! We’ve been encouraged with some of the positive news we’ve discussed in this blog and we look forward to more positive observations in the weeks to come. Good luck and stay safe!