Over the past months, online shopping has skyrocketed. Online sales were up 41% in April, compared to last year, and the postal service saw up to two million parcels processed per day for weeks.
This shift in consumer buying habits has meant people are turning online to search and shop instead of visiting physical stores. So just what exactly have Australians been buying? With restrictions keeping many people at home more than usual, many have re-invigorated a passion for decorating, maintaining, and improving their homes.
Around one-third of Australians have taken up additional DIY projects since lockdown and are investing in other items for the home, like furniture, linens or even extra entertainment and sporting equipment.
While many are starting to return to work and kids back to school, ‘cocooning’ is expected to stay – at least until we hit the warmer months. Limitations on gatherings and travel, as well as long-lasting WFH arrangements, mean Australians will be spending plenty of time at home and looking to make it as cosy as possible.
“It’s been interesting to see this renewed focus on home related purchases, surpassing even trends from TV shows like The Block. From exercising in your own backyard to hosting dinner parties, people have taken the adage ‘your home is your castle’ to heart and are buying and decorating accordingly. For some of our customers, this has meant a notable increase in business that’s required smart thinking and a quick response to meet the demand,” Oracle NetSuite general manager for Australia and New Zealand, Jason Toshack said.
Several local NetSuite customers have tapped into the ‘cocooning’ trend and experienced impressive sales growth.
Maker of the world’s safest springless, enclosed trampoline, Springfree Trampoline, saw a huge spike in demand globally as parents looked for ways to entertain kids at home. Globally, the business has experienced 300% YoY growth across key markets including Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada.
“The sales that we would normally see in November and December, we saw in March and April,” Springfree Trampoline Australia head of sales and marketing, Danielle West said.
While many businesses dealt with delays in sourcing products due to global manufacturing disruptions, Springfree Trampoline was able to continue filling orders as their factories are owner managed. The business had end-to-end control over the supply chain and were able to continue manufacturing products, only with minor disruptions.
Even as restrictions ease, West doesn’t anticipate things will return to ‘normal’. “I think the ‘cocooning’ trend will continue. As a business, we have seen some seismic shifts in the way people interact with our brand and how they shop for home and lifestyle. It’s instilled more emphasis on making your home your castle, so the trend and need for those products will extend well into the future.”
Global Fitness & Leisure
Due to restrictions to gyms, sport and other fitness centres, Australians were looking for a home gym set up, which led to unexpected demand for equipment such as weights, yoga mats and larger machines like ellipticals and treadmills.
Businesses like Global Fitness and Leisure, a distributor of fitness equipment brands Lifespan Fitness, Reebok and Cortex, experienced up to 14 times the usual demand during the peak period, with customers buying both through its websites and through retailers such as Catch and Harvey Norman.
“It’s the highest demand we’ve ever experienced, beyond even the usual Christmas rush. No one was prepared for this, but the work done in building the foundations for our business set us up to scale rapidly. The key for us was having cloud-based operating systems, like NetSuite, to manage our supply and demand,” Global Fitness and Leisure business director, Reece Huang said.
While many products still have large back order queues, the business was able to manage increased demand through strong processes, consolidated systems, and relationships with suppliers.
“We thought demand levels would have returned to normal by now, but we’re still processing at least double the usual amount of orders. We know fitness is a popular trend and everyone wants to workout at home, but even now that gyms are reopening, I expect we’ll see long-lasting effects, similar to remote working. This is the start of a cultural shift in how people maintain their health at home,” Huang said.
With increased time at home, many Australians found it the ideal opportunity to refresh or upgrade their homes and décor. For Canningvale Australia, a vertically integrated online retailer of towels, bed linen and homewares, having an established e-commerce platform allowed it to capitalise on this demand.
With close to 80% of the business coming through its own website, canningvale.com, and another 5% through platforms like eBay or Catch, it was able to identify the increased opportunities, and double down on their marketing spend and activities by driving traffic online, through a combination of broadcast and online advertising.
“Orders increased across the board, from quilts to pillows to towels, sheets, and quilt covers. It’s quite extraordinary and was indicative of the change in consumer shopping preferences during the lockdown. We have had a big focus on how we can provide a best in class customer experience and unbeatable value through canningvale.com to help meet customers’ needs online for some time now. That’s how we were able to capture their attention and keep it,” Canningvale Australia managing director, Jordan Prainito said.
April sales were up over 400% YoY for purchases made through its online store and in May, it was 200%, with sales expected to remain high over the coming months with purchase orders already delayed.
“Running our business processes on NetSuite meant we could identify opportunities to adjust our sell prices and plan inventory orders based on demand, seeing which areas of the business are performing well and further capitalising on those strengths,” Prainito said.
Despite falling temperatures in parts of the country, many families across Australia are still looking to their home pool or spa for some fun and relaxation.
In just six weeks, Poolwerx, the biggest pool and spa services company in the world, developed new products for consumer use, included contact free mobile pool testing and treating, as well as contact free click and collect for retail locations. The business saw an increase of 10% in revenue in March and 1% in April YoY, driven by customers looking to improve their homes and properties. More recently, Poolwerx experienced a 233% spike in pool heating sales.
“With people spending more time at home, they’ve been inclined to invest in improving their backyard pools and relaxation spaces. The pool is one place we’re seeing Australians embrace the ‘cocooning’ trend, spending time in their own pool while unable to go out freely. Particularly as it’s cold, Australians are looking to heat their pools or spas for some extra comfort,” Poolwerx CEO, John O’Brien said.