McKinsey & Company/ April 2020

While the full implications of COVID-19 are still unknown, it’s clear that the impact on retail is already significant. Emerging evidence points to a significant shift, as customers scale back their shopping in stores and instead go online.

In China, online shopping has increased 15 to 20 percentage points, and e-commerce in Italy has increased 81 percent compared with the last week of February. US consumers have largely followed the same pattern. The COVID-19 crisis is first and foremost a human tragedy, requiring companies to take immediate steps to protect their people. Amid this human cost, companies are also starting to come to terms with the impact of the crisis on their businesses. With offline shopping collapsing, companies’ strategies will need to focus on fortifying their web presence and, in some cases, building an online business.

We have found that companies can create a working e-commerce site in much less time than they think. In fact, a poor understanding of what’s really possible with digital can be one of the most significant hinderances to moving quickly.

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