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How COVID-19 pandemic increased online shopping, making room for the other guys

WLKY Louisville logo WLKY Louisville 4/2/2021
a boy using a laptop computer sitting on top of a table: new online shopping habits © Provided by WLKY Louisville new online shopping habits

From curbside pick-up to same-day delivery, the pandemic has shifted many people's shopping habits.

The U.S. Department of Commerce says online sales were up 32% last year. Before the pandemic, Amazon was out-performing all of the big box retailers with online sales. Now, experts say the pandemic has given the other companies a chance to play catch up.

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Omri Traub is the co-founder of Popcart, an online tool used to compare prices online. He says the pandemic has underscored the importance of smart shopping. He says 1.3 million people worldwide are expected to sign up to be sellers this year, and frankly, they're not all reliable.

Traub says it's wise to research the seller, before clicking buy now, and shop around.


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"You have to be very careful when shopping online. We saw price gouging out of control on Amazon, bottles of Purel, masks, Clorox wipes," Traub said. "I think that highlighted the rise of something that's been brewing for a long time, the rise of the marketplace sellers."

According to Traub, the pandemic put a monkey wrench in Amazon's so-called golden age, which peaked in 2019. The pandemic disrupted shipped, ending Amazon's free two-day shipping with a Prime account.

"Everything had that iron-clad two-day shipping guarantee. The pandemic broke that, and for a good reason. The supply chains globally were disrupted," Traub said.

While online shopping can't replace an in-person experience, many experts believe the habit of shopping online is here to stay.

"The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online shopping in the United States by 5 to 10 years," Traub said.

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