April 7, 2020

What the Fastest Growing & Declining Categories in E-commerce Tell Us About Doing Business in a Recession

You’ve probably seen this list making the rounds this week. It’s from Stackline, which is a retail intelligence and software company in Seattle that some of the world’s biggest retail brands use to guide their e-commerce strategies.

It’s an infographic called: The Top 100 Fastest Growing & Declining Categories in E-commerce: March 2020 vs. March 2019.

First, take a look at the list. A snapshot is below, but it’s really worth your time to read it all the way through.

What does this all mean?

Today’s needs dominate.

Reading through the list is a bit like scrolling through the top ads on Facebook and Google right now.

How Can Content Help with Ecommerce and Online Sales?

Disposable gloves… bread makers… cold remedies… canned foods… dried foods… work-from-home tools… and the list goes on.

We all know why this is the case, as much of the world’s ongoing battle against the novel coronavirus and Covid-19 involves improving sanitation, stockpiling food and working from home. Naturally, that’s why e-commerce companies are swooping in to meet these demands.

But this lesson applies to the rest of us as well.

Service providers and other businesses don’t operate in a vacuum. We’re part of the same world that includes all of today’s out-of-work restaurant workers, barbers, retail employees and more. And so are our clients. It’s important not to forget that fact, and it is driving how we navigate this time in our own business.

We might not sell bread makers (yet), but we are adjusting to meet today’s needs.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Yes, it’s expected to see disposable gloves and hand sanitizer at the top of this list, but desktop computer monitors? Dried fruits? Coffee beans? Puzzles?

It makes sense. I might be the last person on earth who has a full-size computer monitor on his home desktop already, but I can definitely understand the need for one among employees who are suddenly working from home. And their bosses need to order them for their teams too.

That’s what I really like about this list.

It’s crazy long and includes all sorts of different Covid-19 impacts that I never would have considered. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and start selling to one of these categories, but it’s a good reminder that in the midst of this I don’t fully know what my clients are thinking and needing.

There’s always another angle.

What’s hot today might be cold tomorrow (and vice versa).

Who ever would have expected that the market for luggage & suitcases would fall off a cliff, down 77% in the last year?

After all, more than a few startups have launched in the last few years focused on improving this legacy category. (Remember the robot luggage that would follow you through the airport?)

With the end of travel has come the end of luggage, though.

But not forever. We will travel again. We will need new bags. We will come back to those segments.

Just think about what the puzzle people are feeling right now. Puzzles never went away, but all of a sudden they among the hottest things going. There’s a lesson in that for all of us.

Want to learn more about what we’re seeing? Reach out at tim@wearelayup.com and let’s talk.

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