How COVID-19 is Shaping E-commerce

Over the weekend, Atlanta entrepreneur Kelley Knight took to Instagram to deliver some news: She’s sick. The owner of Modern Mystic Shop assured her followers that she was staying home, taking care of herself — and making sure her customers’ online orders were still seamlessly making their way to their mailboxes.

So, how does a small-business owner in self-quarantine keep e-commerce running smoothly when she can’t get her hands on the products? She fulfills orders directly from a warehouse, ensuring her customers are happy and her business is better equipped to weather the storm.

E-commerce shopping spikes

New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman recently penned a column about online shopping geared toward consumers. She argued that while shopping might feel “self-indulgent” as we sit cooped up in our houses, afraid of the next round of news alerts, it’s also “an essential part of our economy [and] an enormous source of employment and creative expression.”

Friedman quotes Sacha Rose, CEO of pajama brand Derek Rose, who put it even more plainly in an email to clients: “Our online business is keeping us alive right now.”

As we all work to flatten the COVID-19 curve, consumers are balancing needs: On the one hand, they need to stay home and pinch pennies. On the other, they need to stock up on supplies, stave off boredom and provide for their families. Shopping online sits at the center.

E-commerce is booming in the wake of shelter-in-place orders and social-distancing efforts. According to global marketing research firm Nielsen, online consumer packaged goods (CPG) shopping has increased consistently over the past two years, but the recent spike is unprecedented. For the two weeks ending March 21, Nielsen reports that 35 percent more people had shopped online for CPG items. Total U.S. CPG sales increased by a staggering $8.5 billion from the two weeks prior, 15 times the average rate of change.

So what are people buying? The answers aren’t totally surprising. According to research firm Adobe Analytics, Americans are stocking up on health products, gym equipment, toilet paper and canned foods. The online-shopping boosts are significant:

  • Home-fitness equipment sales have jumped 55 percent.
  • Daily online sales of groceries in general have shot up 100 percent, while sales of nonperishable and shelf-stable foods have increased 69 percent.
  • Toilet paper sales are up by 186 percent.
  • Over-the-counter cold and flu meds have seen a 198 percent spike, while pain relievers are up 152 percent.
  • Virus-protection products like hand sanitizer, gloves and masks jumped 817 percent.


Continue to meet consumer demands

The entire supply chain is stressed. Small creators and mega manufacturers alike are working to keep up with demand and fulfillment, in some cases canceling consumers’ orders when products are out of stock. Amazon warehouse employees and Instacart shoppers are striking over safety concerns. Delivery services are dealing with holiday-level volume.

Brands and retailers should brace for a “new normal.” As Nielsen points out, even after the COVID crisis is over, “the growth of online shoppers will sustain after they make their initial purchases.” In other words, your customers likely will continue to stockpile products they order online, and they’ll definitely expect those products to be in stock and show up on time.

Right now and in the long-term, it’s crucial to have a reliable e-commerce partner you can trust to your business moving, from logistics and customer service to inventory distribution and order fulfillment. Keeping up with the surge in online orders — and being able to offer fast shipping — will help you stand out. Outsourcing your order fulfillment to a partner with warehouses spread across the country means your products will reach your customers as rapidly as possible.

Successful brands are shifting alongside consumers’ shopping habits. Offering discounts, free two-day shipping, and other incentives can maintain or boost sales, especially if you’re able to diversify and offer a range of products other retailers might not have in stock.

But appealing to consumers goes beyond discount alerts; now is the time to continue to build trust and solidarity. Look at the example of Kelley Knight from earlier: She put a very real, human face to both the COVID and retail crises in this country, openly discussing not only her own health, but her customers’ crucial role in keeping her business afloat. In connecting with her customers “face to face” on Instagram, she is keeping them informed and inviting them to be part of a community. Acknowledging the truth — that people are scared, bored, uncertain and looking for connection — also acknowledges that we’re all in this together.

If you want to talk about how to keep your e-commerce business running smoothly during this crisis, you can call us at 1-866-289-9010 or email us at sales (at) owd (dot) com.

Fulfillment Costs

Fulfillment costs are based on three criteria: size, weight and delivery time.

OWD offers five service levels: economy (7-10 days); Standard (5-7 days), 2-Day, Overnight and International.

Starting At


Per Unit


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International Shipping

The old way to ship internationally

DDU means Delivery Duty Unpaid – where the buyer pays for all of the import fees at delivery.

Unexpected import fees give buyers sticker shock – not good. When they refuse to pay, you’ve lost a sale and must pay to return your product, or abandon it.

DDU is an old idea whose time has passed. For these reasons and more, OWD doesn’t recommend DDU for e-com sellers.

The best way to ship internationally

DDP is an acronym for Delivery Duty Paid. DDP means that the seller pays for all the duties and import fees.

With DDP, your customers won’t be surprised with unexpected customs charges – good!

With OWD’s landed cost calculator, your foreign customers will know exactly what their various VAT, customers and duties will cost. No unhappy surprises.

Ship flat-rate anywhere in the world starting at:


One World Direct, B.V.

For large-scale operations needing a full solution in Europe, there’s OWD Europe, based in Amsterdam.

We Make Contact Center EASY

Sell More with Live Agents

The Services

OWD handles phone calls, e-mails and web chat eighteen hours a day from our own state-of-the-art facility.

We’ll handle your inbound sales and customer service contacts.

You get career agents who speak American English and know how to sell.

The Costs

$99 gets you 200 calls, e-mails or chats handled every week.

You get your own phone number and custom e-mail.

We do a lot more. Call for details.

More than a Call Center

Get Virtual Assistants as needed

One World’s contact center in Mobridge, South Dakota.

The Voice of Your Brand

We Make Returns EASY

Returns? Yuck.
One World has a simple solution.

All-Inclusive Returns

OWD’s all-inclusive Returns service provides simplicity and high-end customer service. OWD includes a pre-printed return label as part of your packing slip. Your customer need only drop it in the mail.

What’s included: packaging slip with return label, QC inspection, re-bag, re-tag and return to stock. What’s excluded: postage cost, poly bags and any special packaging.

Base Price


Add-On Services

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