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COVID-19: E-Commerce Trends & Tactics

Introduction:

Attentive is a personalized mobile messaging platform that works with over 1,000 leading brands, including many of the top online retailers in the world, generating billions of dollars in online sales. We have been closely monitoring the effects of COVID-19, and we feel it is important to gather and share analytic insights from our data—as well as provide some actionable tips—to better help businesses execute strategies. This in-depth content hub will be continually updated with trends—organized by sub-vertical, including new sub-verticals for apparel—to ensure that you feel confident as we navigate a particularly dynamic time.

We understand that these are uncharted times—both as professionals and as individuals. Attentive is here to support you and to keep your business growing—no matter what. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for additional information or questions. Attentive is here to help at every step. To stay on top of the developing trends, sign up for our COVID-19 E-commerce Trends & Tactics text channel. You’ll be the first to know about any updates for your vertical, and we can answer any questions you may have. Plus, we’re donating $10 to Feeding America on behalf of each subscriber (help us reach our goal of $25,000).

Revenue trends by vertical:

The following charts are provided from anonymized Attentive data, updated as of end of day Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

All Verticals

This week, we’re taking a comprehensive look back at month-over-month data from the past 30 days to understand the shifting trends that have dominated online sales recently, and where e-commerce may be headed. Online sales over the past month have continued to trend upwards—even after a significant spike in sales and deals offered in April—as shoppers are relying on e-commerce to make the bulk of their purchases. Over the past month, online sales for May are pacing up 14.29% compared to April. “Discretionary” purchases—like beauty and home decor items—are continuing to see a rise in sales. Meanwhile, “staple” categories like Pets have begun to plateau now that consumers have adjusted to ordering essentials online. Memorial Day weekend promotions appeared to have helped consumers take action on limited-time deals.

Consumers remain very value-driven. Brands that offer incentives—especially in discretionary categories—are continuing to see an increase in sales. Plateauing sales in “staple” categories indicate that consumers have adapted to a “new normal”—they’re shifting their purchasing habits almost entirely online and have determined what they need to feel comfortable at home. These trends should also be analyzed in the context of how long consumers have sheltered in place. Some people have now stayed at home for three or more months, and may be growing restless. Consumers are no longer strictly thinking about how to stock up and get comfortable. Instead, they’re starting to look forward to what’s to come. They’re making more purchases now to use in the future, rather than to ease the current moment.

Month-over-Month Sales: +14.29% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +33.14% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Auto, Beauty, Health & Wellness, Home, Sports, most Apparel - see charts below for details Trending Down: Electronics, General, Pets, some Apparel - see chart below for details

After a significant spike last month, online sales continue to trend up overall. Total online sales have climbed 14.29% this month, May pacing compared to April, while sales increased 33.14% April compared to March. Sales in what could be considered more discretionary categories—such as Auto, Beauty, Health & Wellness, Home, and Sports—continue to climb. Meanwhile, sales in “staples” categories—like Pets—have begun to plateau as consumers have finished stocking up and have determined their necessities. Finally, as we begin shifting into spring and summer, consumers are purchasing items for warmer weather. Shoppers have begun to purchase seasonal items like casual t-shirts, shorts, and swimsuits—shifting away from items such as coats and jackets.

Apparel - Overall

Month-over-Month Sales: +24.38% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +23.19% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Swimwear, comfort clothing, fitness-related, men's shirts, children’s and babies’ apparel, loungewear, luxury dresses, casual summer apparel Trending Down: Shoes, formal men’s apparel, cold weather clothing, bridal, fast fashion

Apparel - Men's

Month-over-Month Sales: +39.19% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: -2.70% (April compared to March) Trending Up: T-shirts and most comfort apparel, fitness apparel, button-down shirts, golf-related apparel Trending Down: Some comfort apparel, dress pants, suiting, business-casual apparel, men’s streetwear

The noticeable uptick in sales in this category could be contributed to a combination of brands running promotions, as well as resuming messaging that is closer to the “old normal.”

Apparel - Women's

Month-over-Month Sales: +20.46% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +5.64% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Comfort apparel, tops & blouses, maternity, dresses, swimsuits, casual summer apparel, formalwear (potentially opportunistic purchases due to deeper discounts during this time) Trending Down: Coats and jackets (likely due to seasonal shifts), dress pants, business casual apparel, fast fashion and clubwear (like dresses) Swimwear sales were particularly strong over the past month. This trend is aligned to consumers entering an “escapist” stage as lockdowns continue across the US. Consumers are looking for ways to escape and plan for the future, and vacation-oriented items like swimwear are particularly popular. And, because states have begun to loosen restrictions and open restaurants, consumers may be feeling optimistic about traveling this summer.

Apparel - Children & Baby

Month-over-Month Sales: +14.25% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +40.56% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Home-focused items (bathrobes, comfort onesies, pajamas), discounted apparel, seasonal & holiday-related clothing, baby gear (bassinets and cribs, strollers, carriers) Trending Down: High-end children’s clothing & accessories, shoes

Apparel - Luxury

Month-over-Month Sales: -9.02% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +65.89% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Discounted luxury brand items, casual styles, handbags, dresses Trending Down: Resort wear and travel-focused accessories, coats & jackets (potentially due to change of seasons), eco-friendly/sustainable clothing While it appears that luxury sales have fallen pacing compared to April, it’s important to recognize that sales in this category spiked significantly in April. This was likely due to deeper discounting campaigns, which have plateaued somewhat since.

Apparel - Intimates & Basics

Month-over-Month Sales: +25.56% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +32.40% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Discounted items, women’s comfort bras, men’s undergarments, socks Trending Down: Lingerie

Auto

Month-over-Month Sales: +11.68% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +39.67% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Tires, car maintenance parts, commercial truck parts & accessories, performance & racing parts Trending Down: Classic restoration/sports cars parts & accessories It is interesting to note that daily sales cycles in this category have been extremely consistent. These dips in sales on Saturdays and Sundays may be due in part to consumers wanting to order items in time to use over the weekend.

Beauty

Month-over-Month Sales: +18.69% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +36.68% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Skincare, hand creams, “self-care” items such as face masks, clean beauty, hair styling tools, perfume, hair care and styling products Trending Down: Some cosmetics (such as lip color), nail care, at-home hair color, body care

Electronics

Month-over-Month Sales: -21.44% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +47.60% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Personal audio accessories, entertainment-related electronics (gaming), home office, portable accessories, recreational electronics such as drones Trending Down: Photography cameras, speakers, internet

General

Month-over-Month Sales: -4.58% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +6.62% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Crafts, toys, music, gift boxes and flower delivery (likely for celebrating holidays like Mother’s Day remotely), photography printing, fabrics Trending Down: Sewing accessories, stationery

Health & Wellness

Month-over-Month Sales: +4.25% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +49.09% (April compared to March) Trending Up: at-home oral care, water dispensers & bottles, suncare, diet-related supplements Trending Down: Corporate-related, home gym equipment, health supplements, home fitness programs & virtual training services

Home Furnishings & Supplies

Month-over-Month Sales: +26.14% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +62.80% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Furniture, home accessories & non-seasonal decor, mattresses, bulk supplies, kitchen items (particularly coffee accessories), entertaining, novelty, cooking equipment, art Trending Down: Seasonal decor, pillows & bedding, china

Pets

Month-over-Month Sales: -0.82% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +44.44% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Treats, toys & accessories Trending Down: Pet food, pet health medicine & supplements

Sports Apparel & Equipment

Month-over-Month Sales: +12.37% (May pacing compared to April) Prior Month-over-Month Sales: +16.80% (April compared to March) Trending Up: Cycling equipment, mountain biking equipment & gear, golf equipment, team sports uniforms, professional-focused sports apparel Trending Down: Some individual sports like skateboarding & surfing equipment, some team sports gear (like soccer cleats)

Messaging examples around COVID-19

What types of text messages should marketers be sending at this time? Most Attentive partners are maintaining their planned campaign message calendar to engage subscribers as they spend more and more time on their mobile devices at home.

COVID-19 & Its Impact

“Feel Good” & Community Building Messages

Deal-Driven Text Messages

Text message content analysis: 2020 word usage frequency

We analyzed the text messages sent by our 1,000+ customers throughout 2020 so far. The two charts below show the top words used in one-time text messaging campaigns.

The first chart indicates the top words consistently used from December 30 through May 25. The second chart indicates trending words that have emerged due to COVID-19 messaging, peaking after the week of March 2. The sudden burst of COVID-19-related word usage—like WFH, stay, safe—lasted about two months, but now are rarely being used. We’ve seemingly entered into this ‘new normal’ marketing era.

One-Time Text Message Content - Consistent Top Word Usage

One-Time Text Message Content - Changes Influenced by COVID-19

What's next?

The metrics that Attentive has pulled from our 1,000+ clients signal to us that consumers’ sentiment—particularly around e-commerce—is still holding strong. We will continue to monitor, update metrics, and share new insights as events progress.

Stay on top of these developing consumer trends by signing up for our COVID-19 E-commerce Trends & Tactics text channel. We’ll share updates on your vertical as soon as they go live, so you can rest assured knowing you have the most relevant information. Plus, we’re donating $10 to Feeding America for each new subscriber (help us reach our goal of $25,000).

Above all else, Attentive is here to help and support your business at every step—however you need. Please let us know if you have any questions, or if we can provide any assistance. Attentive clients have access to a dedicated Client Strategy team member to help plan and execute a mobile messaging strategy for their brand. Please use our team as a resource—we want to ensure that you feel confident during this storm.

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