While demand for work from home products (WFH), consumer electronics and personal care may reflect the new normal in the current scenario, a spike in sales in some categories such as immunity boosters, musical instruments, hobby items and gourmet food products have taken some of these firms by surprise.
Amazon India has seen growth in several categories, ranging from work from home (WFH) essentials to toys and a significant spike in demand and sales of dishwashers and vacuum cleaners.
UrbanBotanics, which sells beauty and personal care products, along with dumbbells, musical instruments and office chairs to be used at home have witnessed big growth too for the e-commerce firm. Discount Bazaar India, a seller on Amazon India, has seen 3x growth in gourmet products.
“There is a certain change in demand patterns and it’s interesting to see spike in growth in certain unusual categories. Sellers are also coming up with creative products like cloth masks that match the shirts and reacting quickly to what customers want today," said Gopal Pillai, VP-seller services, Amazon India.
Large Indian e-commerce firms such as Amazon and Flipkart have also been stepping up to provide increased support to their seller ecosystem, in order to ensure business continuity, after the lockdowns heavily impacted the operations of small and medium-sized businesses.
Walmart-owned Flipkart, which has see a 9x spike in the number of sellers and MSMEs resuming business last week compared to the first week of lockdown, said demand has doubles for mobile phones, tablets, laptops and televisions. It has witnessed an increase in searches for kitchen appliances including hand blenders, microwave ovens and induction cooktops, with higher demand from metro cities, compared to Tier 2 cities and beyond. With temperatures soaring across the country, Flipkart sellers are also seeing quite a significant spike for fans, air coolers and air conditioners.
“As people continue to maintain social distancing, fashion choices have become more functional. Inner-wear and lounge-wear are seeing an increased demand, with women's sleepwear witnessing a very good growth," a Flipkart spokesperson said.
Sale of non-essential products were opened up earlier in May, after nearly two months of lockdown when e-commerce firms were allowed to sell only essential items.
Since the government allowed delivery of non-essential items in all zones barring the ones under containment, Paytm Mall has seen a surge in searches and the sale of mobiles, masks, trimmers, laptops and other consumer electronics and a 1.5X increase in sales as compared to March.
Besides personal grooming, consumer electronics and education-related stationery,
kidswear and toy categories are also doing well.
“...While there is a pent up demand due to the on-going lockdown, we believe that the overall trend of ordering online is going to remain strong due to social distancing norms. Many of our users are from tier-III and Bharat cities who are now ordering groceries as well as non-essentials routinely on our platform," said a Paytm Mall spokesperson.
For e-commerce firm Snapdeal, demand in non-metro markets has grown faster and the sales volumes are now 80% of pre-Covid levels while in urban markets, sales are also growing and are now about 65% of pre-covid levels. More than 80% of the orders have come from non-metros and the demand is highest from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
“...The growth of immunity boosters, though expected, was a surprise. This new sub-category has shown strong growth, week-on-week for the last 5 weeks," said a Snapdeal spokesperson.
These include health supplements, traditional products like Chyawanprash, and herbal products like fish oil, Moringa, amla juice, herbal teas, Brahmi tablets, karela and jamun juices, clove powder, and Ashwagandha. Traditional items like dry ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric are selling higher volumes in the spices category, the spokesperson said. It has also seen a huge pick up in hobby items such as gardening supplies, knitting accessories and painting items, which have traditionally been niche categories.