The market for in-home consumption of alcohol saw rapid growth across the board during lockdown and, with people being forced to stay at home, online was a natural beneficiary.
A survey by Censuswide for Molzi, a company which advises brands and businesses on maximising their sales on Amazon, showed that 3.3 million shoppers bought drinks using the site for the first time during lockdown.
Early evidence suggests the reopening of bricks and mortar retail won’t see the sales balance between physical stores and online return to pre-Covid levels.
Molzi’s survey shows that 97% of those who have purchased any product for the first time on Amazon during lockdown will continue to use it for those sorts of purchases, and that 15% won’t return to the high street at all.
The latest iteration of the regular IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers, also indicates that shoppers who went online in lockdown might stay there.
It said that multichannel retailers – those who have physical stores and an online presence – saw a record 71% increase in online sales for the week that they were allowed to reopen shops, compared with the corresponding week last year.
Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant for retail insight at Capgemini, says: “Multichannel retailers saw online sales go from strength to strength despite a hypothesis that the ability to spend in reopened stores would decrease the reliance on online shopping.
“It appears that moving retail front-of-mind is also potentially causing a halo effect in digital sales.”
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, adds that where shoppers are returning to the high street they are “visiting stores in much lower numbers but with a clearly focused intention to complete a purchase, as opposed to just browsing”.
Molzi says 42% of those surveyed had a better impression of Amazon since lockdown, compared to just 5% who said their perception of the site had got worse.
The major plus points were speed and ease of delivery, but 36% said they valued being able to fi nd products that weren’t in local shops, and 32% thought there was more choice.
Charlie Merrells, chief strategy officer at Molzi and a former Amazon BWS head, says: “People often think millennials or Generation Zs are more likely to purchase goods online, but lockdown has shown that older generations have now become much more familiar with online retail.
“Alcohol has often been viewed as a category slightly behind the curve on Amazon, but you could see how much the coronavirus had aff ected Amazon drinks sales right from the start of lockdown, just by the sheer number of products out of stock. From middle to-late March onwards, Amazon was struggling to get enough inventory in place, due to the sharp increase in sales.”
Merrells says spirits have proved especially popular on the site. “Gin and whiskey in particular appear to be in demand,” he says, “as the Amazon search rankings increased signifi cantly when comparing the March data to the latest June numbers.”
Merrells says the biggest issue for businesses selling through Amazon was building up trust to gain higher rankings. “The mistake which many Amazon sellers make is thinking ‘all I have to do is list it and it’ll sell’, but if you’re not on the first, or maybe second, page, people won’t fi nd it and it won’t be bought,” he adds.
“Quality images, comprehensive descriptions and good reviews all lead towards boosting product credibility and landing the product on the first page of search results.”