In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world appears to have changed dramatically. But remember: we're all in this together.

With hundreds of Shopify apps and agencies around the world joining forces to make a difference, there are plenty of free resources available to help you stay afloat and try to get a handle on what to do -- and what comes next.

In this post we look at where merchants can turn for help, share some resources for honest projections about the industry, and ask what the crisis really means for ecommerce, especially Shopify stores that rely on subscriptions for revenue.

Ecommerce trends

John Kenneth Galbraith once said that the function of economic forecasting is "to make astrology look respectable." In the wake of the chaos invoked in markets by the novel coronavirus, nobody knows for sure what will happen, but there are many in the ecommerce world who are looking closely at the data on a daily basis to figure out where the overall trends might be.

At Littledata, we've been analyzing our own benchmark data in more detail (see our open access ecommerce benchmarks), broken down by industry sector. In our first round of analysis we found that around 30-35% of Shopify stores overall are actually seeing an uptick in revenue & order volume, especially in the Food & Drink and Health & Fitness sectors -- even if revenue is growing at a slower pace. This matches Klaviyo's findings below, where about a third of ecommerce sites were seeing higher revenue after the first month of stay-at-home orders and social distancing.

Yet there are still a few unknowns, as well as a range of outliers in certain verticals, like seemingly random successes in online fashion during the crisis. That said, the major unknown in my view is still the supply chain timeline:

  • When will we feel the first major "supply chain hit" across sectors?
  • As brands adapt wholesale strategies to the new environment, will over-discounting or confused omnichannel strategies come back to bite them?
  • On the flip side, can independent warehouses like Perishable Shipping Solutions (PSS), which focuses on food and beverage, and even Shopify's own fulfillment network, handle the major uplift in demand?
  • Even if customers adapt to purchasing gift certificates, exclusive pre-orders and other "delayed" products, will restaurants and retailers be able to fulfill the demand once things open up again?

And some labels are flexible. Pantry staples are growing in several categories and there's been a lot of industry chatter about "DTC pantry" products, especially among millennials and wealthy urbanites.

But this is pretty broad. What defines a DTC pantry staple? Subscription coffee brands like Dripkit and Groundwork should obviously be there, but what about adult beverages like Kin?

A note about Littledata and COVID-19

So maybe it's not actually about the sector at all. Brands that have paid attention to truly speaking directly to consumers (not just in their product marketing but literally in their messaging) -- along with those who have moved production and fulfillment closer to home -- are doing the best right now. Maybe they'll even give Amazon a run for its money.

Key resources for ecommerce news during the pandemic

Perhaps it's ironic that there actually is a lot of fake news out there.

And that's not the worst of it. Everyone on Facebook is suddenly an armchair epidemiologist, and economists are changing their predictions every few minutes.

So where can you turn for accurate ecommerce news?

In addition to essential ecommerce newsletters like LeanLuxe and 2PM, these five online resources are absolutely essential for brands that want to stay on top of Shopify news and ecommerce trends during the crisis:

Shopify's COVID-19 response page

Shopify's COVID-19 response has been really amazing.

They're offering $200 million in small business funding, a community forum, plus extended features like gift cards and localized delivery options. They have also set up a dedicated weekly email newsletter for case studies and insights relating to COVID-19 (You can sign up on the main page linked above).

Shopify and COVID-19

Klaviyo insights

Klaviyo is a popular email marketing tool used by many of our enterprise customers. Through surveys and analysis, Klaviyo is "taking a daily pulse on what’s happening in the ecommerce world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic". The best part: you can submit your own info to take part in the analysis. See daily trends and how it all fits together.

Are your sales being affected - Klaviyo ecommerce research

Modern Retail

Modern Retail always does a stellar job keeping track of major trends, especially for larger DTC brands and innovators. And that reporting power continues through the crisis. They are paying attention to everything from warehouse conditions to high-ticket DTC exercise brands and the remarkable surge in alcohol delivery in the US (it's been a long time coming).

Modern Retail online ecommerce blog

Flow.io blog

As we see an increasing number of merchants moving toward multi-currency sales, Flow Commerce has become an essential Littledata integration partner. Flow's blog is an excellent resource for anyone wondering how international payments, shipping and supply chains will be affected by COVID-19.

Flow Commerce Blog

WeMakeWebsites blog

WeMakeWebsites isn't just one of our favorite agency partners, they're also insightful analysts of their own data as one of the best-known Shopify Plus agencies in London and New York City. On the WMW blog, they have been paying special attention to purpose-driven brands are differentiating themselves in the current climate.

we make websites blog

How we're adapting at Littledata

At Littledata we've always been a remote-first culture, but now, like many, we've gone totally remote. We're dedicated to sharing as much of our knowledge as possible via this blog and our ebooks and other public resources, like our podcast interviews and help center.

Shopify merchant getting advice from a Google Analytics consultant.

We've made some significant changes very quickly:

  • Extended free trial from 14 to 30 days on all plans
  • Free consultations for merchants on any platform
  • Involvement in multiple agency relief programs for struggling brands and the Offline2On initiative, helping merchants get online fast
  • Curating lists of brands giving back during coronavirus (is your brand doing something unique to help? Get in touch!)

During the time of coronavirus, we're adapting our products, services and work culture, and supporting our customers and employees in every way possible.

Find out more about Littledata's response to COVID-19.