eCommerce niches that are growing during the global pandemic

by Damir Šerbečić

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity” – Albert Einstein

As we progress into the 5th month of the global pandemic, we can’t help but notice fear among entrepreneurs across almost every industry. Restaurants closing down, tenants not paying rents, millions of people getting fired.

Facebook, whose main revenue comes from ads, since late January lost over $150 billion in market value. Same story with many other publicly traded companies.

On top of that, on March 16, Amazon announced it will temporarily suspend shipments of “non-essential” products to FBA centers.

But is everything that bad?

According to tinuiti, Facebook and Instagram CPM have dropped meaningfully. This shouldn’t surprise us as more people are browsing the web and spending time on social media. Facebook has confirmed that users are more active than ever across its platforms. Some advertisers have paused their campaigns due to low conversion rates, freeing up even more ad inventory. This means more inventory where ads can be served, which ultimately leads to cheaper ads for advertisers.

Search behavior has changed. Here you can see the latest search trends on Google that are associated with the coronavirus. For example, searches for how to dry clean at home and instant noodles have reached the all-time highs. Logically, this behavior shift had to leave its traces in the eCommerce industry as well.

While some are unfortunate to have an offer that can wait for a while, others have products that are in high demand right now.

In cooperation with GoodData, the company Emarsys launched a free COVID-19 Commerce Insight tool to help businesses understand trends of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on online retailers. Information is gathered from over a billion users and 400 million transactions worldwide while interacting with over 2500 brands.

Over the past 7 days, pure eCommerce shops in the home & leisure industry have grown 144% in the US. This includes niches that are related to indoor activities such as food & beverage, home & garden, health & beauty, pet care, home office.

The fashion and accessories industry, which includes clothing & accessories, baby, childrenswear and toys has grown 20% in the US. While sports and hobbies have grown by 6%.

Since January, the biggest growth was definitely in the home & leisure industry, and this shouldn’t surprise us as more people have moved their shopping habits to the online world.

Across Facebook, Google and Amazon ad platforms we have noticed a drop in CPM rates. WordStrem has noticed the conversion rate drop of an average of 21% across 15,759 US-based advertisers on Google. However, as I said previously, every industry is impacted differently and sees different results. Here you can see Google Ads current benchmarks so you can check it against your campaigns.

Which niches are booming?

In the UK, for example, we can see that customers have shown an increased interest in home appliances and gardening tools, while other indoor products such as sportswear, yoga mats, board games and crafts equipment are gaining in popularity.

We’ve launched Ccinsight with the goal of putting up-to-date consumer data in the hands of business owners, economists and policy makers to help them by giving them the actionable insight they need to navigate this economic crisis”, Emarsys founder Hagai Hartman says.

Health and medical supplies are seeing a tremendous increase in conversion rate that goes as high as 47% for pharmaceuticals.

Beauty and personal care, specifically soaps and hand sanitizers have noticed over 20% increase in conversion rate.

Grocery sales on Amazon have grown by 103%, while apparel has declined by 28%.

Due to many stores shutting down their operations, even more customers are turning to Amazon to do shopping of essential and non-essential stuff. During March, Amazon’s traffic has grown by 9.4% according to SimilarWeb.

The general trend is that economic uncertainty has discouraged discretionary spending. Meaning that people buy only what is most necessary at the moment.

Now that you know which industries and niches are growing, you can head over to Amazon’s bestseller rank movers and shakers section and analyze which specific products are trending right now.

Quick tips for brands

Brands with accumulated cash have a good opportunity to strengthen their positions as there is more advertising inventory at a cheaper cost.

  • People tend to avoid getting out of home, so if appropriate, you could offer refunds without requiring customers to send you the product. This will make your brand stand out and customers are going to appreciate it.
  • Amazon might shut down the FBA centers once again, so be prepared. If you live in the US, then try switching some listings to fulfilled by merchant and ship products directly from your home. If you are not from the USA, then consider partnering with third-party logistics and warehouse centers such as Printful’s warehousing.
  • If your inventory is low, then consider pausing ad campaigns that are not showing good ROAS.

How is your business impacted? Do you see growth or decline in sales? Let me know in the comments below.

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Stay safe!

Who is Damir Šerbečić?


Founder of digital marketing agency and educational platform WinWinAcademy. On this blog, I document and share tested marketing approaches to help you launch and scale a predictable, profitable and location independent eCommerce business.