28.07.2020 - Company

The rise of omnichannel retailing

In July 2020, Kantar revealed its latest Winning Omnichannel report, which explores how COVID-19 has affected the FMCG and retail sectors worldwide.

As we’ve discussed before, the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the way we shop from the outset – from the initial panic buying of products such as toilet roll, to a shift to e-commerce.

In fact, this report reveals, the upheaval to everyday life is set to continue for some time, affecting buying behaviour in the long term.

Kantar believes that it’s difficult to predict what the post-COVID retail landscape could look like as lockdown restrictions continue to ease around the world.

This new environment is called Liquid Retail, ‘a fluid space where the lines are blurred between home delivery, ecommerce, in-home and out-of-home.’

FMCG and retail continued to grow at a sluggish pace in 2019, with 2020 expected to follow suit. However, the coronavirus turned those predictions completely on their head.

Here are the four key trends we can attribute to growth this year:

Stockpiling before lockdown 
When lockdown loomed, shoppers were expected to add more to their baskets in the face of more restricted movements and the risk of being isolated. In the UK, this led to widespread news coverage showing empty supermarket shelves, with items such as toilet roll, pasta and tinned food being snapped up at an alarming rate. We discussed this in some detail on our previous blog.

  • Out of home transfers to in home
    The closure of our pubs, restaurants and cafes meant that out-of-home experiences stopped overnight. According to Kantar, it is estimated that in the UK an extra 503 million meals – mainly lunches and snacks – will be prepared and eaten at home every week for the foreseeable future. But interestingly, this shift to in-home hasn’t facilitated growth, due to price differences: shoppers generally spend more out-of-home than they do in-home, so a volume increase doesn’t mark an uplift.
  • New occasions outside of core moments
    As we’re spending more time at home, our habits are changing. For example, the morning commute has been replaced with a renewed focus on eating breakfast at home. From a WEPA UK standpoint, more time at home means more time in the bathroom, which it’s fair to say increases toilet roll consumption somewhat.
  • Heightened focus on health and hygiene
    The government’s public health messages during this pandemic have put huge emphasis on health and hygiene. In the UK, we’ve bought hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes and toilet roll like it’s been going out of fashion. One interesting fact from Kantar is that hand soap has made its way into more homes globally than Coca-Cola—the world’s most chosen brand. This shows how shoppers’ concept of what’s essential has truly changed.

Channel shift
Another key driver of growth this year has been e-commerce. Lockdown severely limited our movements, so shoppers have turned online out of necessity.

This is particularly noticeable with older and rural shoppers apparently. According to this report, Q1 in the UK saw e-commerce penetration among the over-65s rising from 13% to 20%, with rural shoppers growing from 23% to 30%.

It’s believed this trend is likely to continue, as online shopping becomes the “new normal” for many people.

What’s more, the economic turmoil resulting from the pandemic is seeing more people looking to save money, which will likely affect the private-label market, as shoppers turn to discounters and non-branded products.

At WEPA UK, we supply private-label paper products, including toilet roll and kitchen roll, into the main supermarket and discounter channels. We’ve witnessed first-hand the huge demand for our products and envisage this to continue at a strong rate.

The key things to watch out for will be further social distancing measures and the rise of unemployment, which will both affect shopping habits significantly.

Only time will tell how we ride out the rest of the pandemic, but one thing’s for sure, the retail environment is undergoing change like never before.

Click this link to watch the webinar on the main findings.

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