E-commerce has seen a lot of growth in recent weeks due to the coronavirus emergency situation and its restrictions, but many retailers are confident that demand for the services will outlast the emergency situation itself.
In recent weeks, e-shopping and e-deliveries have been in high demand due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in several retail chains, though this has calmed in the past few days.
"Since the end of last week, there has been a slight slowdown in order growth. The volume of orders has not fallen directly, but growth has calmed down," commented Mait Mäesalu, e-commerce manager at supermarket Coop, which offers deliveries from e-orders in Tallinn and Pärnu.
Delivery times getting quicker
This has shortened delivery times, Mäesalu said.
"Last week we couldn't offer same-day delivery. As of today, it is already possible to get goods tonight, or certainly by the next day," he went on.
An additional factor has been the schools' spring break last week.
"School holidays have always seen a trend in e-commerce, because since we are in Tallinn, people are still moving out of the city," said Mäesalu. Schools have been teaching online for several weeks as a result of the pandemic.
Stores boosting capacity
Coop's e-store capabilities have also been boosted, the company says, with more courier vehicles in operation and 25-30 more staff recruited.
"To some extent, supply has started to catch up with demand. The problem is not that we can't find these staff, but we also have he problem of training. E-commerce was certainly not ready for such a surge in demand, but it certainly has been a very good lesson," Mäesalu went on.
Maxima's e-store, Barbora, has seen the same trend as Coop.
"We can see that the demand of buyers is still high, but compared with the rapid growth a month ago, it has stabilized," said Kirke Pentikäinen, Barbora's sales director.
The company almost quadrupled the number of its product assemblers, and its home delivery capacity has also multiplied, since the emergency situation began on March 12.
"While previously the ordering timelines were several days long, today the buyer can choose a suitable delivery time on the same day, and definitely for the next day, by creating a shopping car," Pentikäinen went on.
Selver reports similar developments
"The whole situation has forced a complete overhaul of our current e-store business model," said Rivo Veski, Selver's communications manager, though he noted an uptick in in-person visits to the stores by customers. Coop reported the same thing, likely due to the end of the spring break, the company said.
The popularity of the e-store is likely to continue at a comparable level even after the emergency, however, Selver says.
Despite the rapid growth of the emergency situation, the volume of e-commerce is still only a fraction of overall shopping volumes in the normal run of things, Coop said, noting that its total e-commerce turnover was about the same as one of its larger supermarkets.
Selver said its e-commerce turnover was about 5-10 percent of the total depending on the days.
Selver opened up several new e-store warehouses in Tallinn, Tartu and P'rnu in addition to its regular warehouse in Tallinn, from which orders were previously sent to Pärnu, shortening waiting times.
This has made it possible to shorten the service hours, so that in Tallinn the orders can be received by the evening of the same day, in Pärnu and Tartu counties the waiting time is even longer.
Selver has also tripled its e-commerce staffing level from the pre-crisis 80 workers, the company said, including on a temporary basis. Again, training was ongoing, it said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte