Why Ecommerce is Safe from a Recession

As the world continues to deal with the fallout from the pandemic and the resulting economic turmoil, many businesses have struggled to survive and bounce back. With talks of a looming recession becoming louder and louder, business owners are on edge.

But if there is one bright spot to emerge from the pandemic, it is Ecommerce. Before COVID, online shopping was becoming more and more popular, and it practically went into overdrive during the pandemic. People are increasingly turning to the internet to purchase everything from groceries to clothing to furniture.

That’s great news for businesses with an online presence. Ecommerce companies are thriving. It is one of the few industries that is doing well in the current landscape.

Now, if you’re wondering whether Ecommerce is safe from a recession, the answer is this: Ecommerce businesses are safer than most. In this article, we’ll explain in detail.

Want to learn more about buyer demand from Ecommerce businesses?

Check out our 2022 Insights Report for a full breakdown of the top buyer searches in 2022, a look into who are buyers are, and what profit multiples businesses are selling for on Flippa.

What is a Recession?

A recession is defined as a significant decline in economic activity that lasts more than a few months. It can be seen as a decrease in industrial output, employment, real income, and wholesale-retail trade. A recession is technically defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

A recession usually occurs when there is a significant decrease in spending (an adverse demand shock). This could be due to an external event, such as a financial crisis, or it could be due to internal factors, such as an increase in interest rates. When consumer spending falls, businesses respond by reducing production and employee numbers, resulting in layoffs and unemployment. People who lose their jobs have less money to spend, which leads to further reductions in production and employment. As a result, economic activity is in a downward spiral.

It has a knock-on effect on the rest of the world. For example, if demand for a country’s exports falls, so will its trading partners’ economic activity. As each successive economy slows, this can cause a chain reaction of events.

Recessions can also be caused by an increase in the supply of goods and services (a positive supply shock). This could happen if there is a sudden influx of refugees or immigrants, or if there is a technological breakthrough that allows for more production with less labor. In either case, the end result is the same: businesses reduce production, and jobs are lost.

Everyone has a difficult time during a recession. Businesses experience losses, employees lose their jobs, and family incomes decrease. Recessions do not, however, last forever. In due course, the economy will pick up steam once more, and employment opportunities will increase.

How a Recession Impacts the Ecommerce Industry

As we mentioned in the beginning, Ecommerce businesses are better equipped to weather the difficulties brought by a recession. But Ecommerce is in no way immune to it. A recession could have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for the Ecommerce industry. As customers cut back on their spending, businesses may see a drop in traffic and sales. 

The most noticeable short-term impact of a recession on Ecommerce is probably going to be a drop in sales. This is brought on by several factors, including decreased consumer spending and confidence as well as increased competition from traditional brick-and-mortar stores that may be able to offer lower prices. Recessions can also disrupt supply chains, which can raise the cost of goods and services.

In the long term, recessions can cause changes in consumer behavior that make it more difficult for Ecommerce businesses to compete. During a recession, for example, there’s a possibility that consumers may switch to cheaper alternatives or to buy from brick-and-mortar retailers who they perceive to be more reliable. Furthermore, the increase in unemployment brought by a recession reduces the amount of disposable income available for consumer spending.

Why Ecommerce is Resilient Against a Recession

Ecommerce has been one of the most resilient sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic. Online spending continued to grow throughout the crisis, with consumers turning to Ecommerce for both essential and non-essential items. And this demonstrates how agile Ecommerce is and  how it’s  safer than most businesses from a recession. We’ll walk through the factors that make it so in this section. 

Lower Overhead Costs

Because of lower overhead costs, Ecommerce businesses are less likely to feel the effects of a recession than brick-and-mortar businesses.

This is due to a number of factors. For starters, Ecommerce businesses do not incur the same costs as physical storefronts. They are not required to pay rent, utilities, or maintenance. This enables them to respond more quickly to economic changes.

Furthermore, Ecommerce businesses don’t keep as much inventory on hand. This means they are less susceptible to changes in consumer demand. Ecommerce businesses can simply stop stocking as much inventory if people stop buying as much during a recession. This helps them in avoiding financial losses.

Wider Audience

One of the most important lessons that businesses have learned during the pandemic is the importance of reaching a wide audience. By not being limited by geography, Ecommerce businesses were able to reach a larger audience and sell more products. This helped them stay afloat during tough times.

In a recession, people are more likely to cut back on discretionary spending. This means that businesses that cater to niche markets are at a greater risk of seeing their sales decline. On the other hand, businesses with a wide audience are more likely to weather the storm.

There are a few reasons for this. First of all, when people are cutting back on spending, they are more likely to gravitate towards businesses that offer value for money. Secondly, businesses with a wide audience have a greater ability to reach new customers through marketing and advertising. 

Finally, businesses with a wide audience are more likely to have a loyal customer base. In a recession, people are less likely to switch to new brands or try new products. If they have been happy with your products in the past, they are more likely to stick with you during tough times. 

More Personalized Service

Having a more personalized service helps businesses weather a recession by creating a stronger connection with their customers. Customers are more likely to remain loyal to businesses that make them feel valued, and they’re also more likely to refer those businesses to others. With the technology that Ecommerce businesses have at their disposal, it’s a lot easier to achieve personalized service.

Other businesses may have a one-size-fits-all approach to customer service, but Ecommerce businesses are able to go the extra mile.This could involve anything from providing personalized recommendations based on past purchases to offering tailored support based on a customer’s specific needs. No matter what, the goal is always to make the customer feel like they’re the only one that matters. And this, no doubt, goes a long way in building loyalty and creating repeat customers. 

Driven by Data

Ecommerce businesses are data driven. This is what enables them to move fast.

This is what helps them understand their customers and what they want. It also helps them manage their inventory and prices. In a recession, having the necessary data is vital to stay afloat.

During a  recession, people are looking for deals. Ecommerce businesses that can offer discounts and promotions will be successful. Those that don’t will struggle.

Data is the key to success for Ecommerce businesses. Without it, they will flounder. But with it, they can thrive – even in a recession.

How to Recession Proof Your Ecommerce Business

With all of the inherent factors that make Ecommerce businesses more prepared to weather a recession, having the right strategy will only increase its chances to not only survive but thrive. Here are a couple of practical strategies to recession proof your Ecommerce business:

Review Your Expenses and Reduce What You Can

Here are the some of the most significant things you should consider when reviewing your expenses:

1. Review your advertising budget.

Are you getting a good return on investment from your current ad spend? If not, now is the time to reevaluate and make changes.

2. Take a close look at your inventory.

Do you have too much stock on hand? If so, you may be able to save money by reducing your order quantities or consolidating suppliers.

3. Scrutinize your shipping costs. 

Are you using the most cost-effective shipping option for your business? If not, now is the time to switch to a cheaper provider.

4. Review your overhead costs. 

Do you have any unnecessary expenses that could be cut? For example, if you’re renting office space, could you downsize or sublet part of it? Or, if you’ve been using an external service to manage your Ecommerce website hosting, you can start doing it with your own team as domain hosting services can be easily managed now without requiring an advanced technical knowledge. 

Invest in Marketing and Advertising that will Reach Your Target Market.

When it comes to marketing and advertising during a recession, it’s important to invest in strategies that will reach your target audience. This may mean spending more on marketing and advertising, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Here are some tips for investing in marketing and advertising during a recession:

1. Increase your online presence.

During a recession, people are spending more time online than ever before. This is the perfect time to increase your online presence and reach more people with your marketing and advertising messages.

2. Use targeted advertising.

Recessions provide an opportunity to use targeted advertising to reach your target market at a lower cost. Targeted ads allow you to focus your budget on reaching the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.

3. Get creative with your marketing.

Now is the time to get creative with your marketing and advertising. Think outside the box and come up with new ways to reach your target audience.

4. Focus on value.

When it comes to marketing and advertising during a recession, focus on creating messages that offer value to your target audience. This could be a discount on your product or service, or helpful information that will make their lives easier.

5. Build relationships.

Recessions provide an opportunity to build relationships with your target market. Focus on creating content that is informative and helpful, and offer something of value to your readers.

Focus on Excellent Customer Service

Even in the midst of a recession, your Ecommerce business can still thrive—if you provide excellent customer service. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you work to keep your customers happy:

1. Be responsive. 

In today’s fast-paced world, customers expect quick responses to their questions and concerns. Be sure to monitor your customer service channels closely and respond promptly by using the right tools like IVR to keep your response time at its peak.  to any inquiries.

2. Be understanding. 

Many customers may be cutting back on their spending during a recession. Be understanding of this and work with them to find the best solution for their needs.

3. Be flexible. 

During a recession, customers may be more likely to take advantage of special deals and promotions. Be flexible with your pricing and offer discounts or other incentives when possible.

4. Be helpful. 

Always go above and beyond to help your customers. Offer advice, product recommendations, and troubleshooting tips to make their lives easier.

5. Be positive. 

A positive attitude is contagious—and it can go a long way in keeping your customers coming back, even during tough times.

Keep an Eye on Your Competition 

Keeping an eye on your competition is not just good business sense – it can also help you weather a recession. Here’s why:

1. You’ll be able to adjust your pricing accordingly.

If your competitors are starting to lower their prices, that’s a sign that demand is dropping off and you’ll need to do the same if you want to stay competitive. On the other hand, if they’re raising prices, it could be an indication that inflation is starting to kick in and you’ll need to follow suit. Either way, by keeping tabs on your competition’s pricing, you’ll be able to make the necessary adjustments to keep your business afloat.

2. You’ll know when to cut costs.

If your competition is starting to cut costs in certain areas, it’s a good idea to take note and see if there are any areas where you can trim costs as well. For example, if they’re cutting back on advertising or reducing their staff, that’s a sign that you may need to do the same in order to stay profitable. 

On the other hand, if they’re investing in new technology or expanding into new markets, that could be an indication that now is the time to invest in your business as

3. You’ll know what new products or services to introduce.

Your competitors are always looking for ways to one-up each other and if they introduce a new product or service that proves popular with consumers, you’ll want to jump on the bandwagon too. This way, you can stay relevant and top of mind with your target audience.

4. You’ll be able to anticipate their next move.

By keeping track of your competition’s every move, you’ll be able to anticipate their next one and stay ahead of the game. This way, you can maintain your position in your market.


Many people are understandably cautious about spending money during a recession. These days, with headlines impending recession getting bigger,  people are clutching their wallets a little tighter.

What does this mean for online shopping? Will spending slow as people tighten their belts?

As discussed in this article, Ecommerce businesses are inherently more prepared to weather a recession than most businesses. Nothing is for certain, but with the right strategies, Ecommerce businesses can be agile enough to adapt to market uncertainties and capitalize on opportunities where others can’t.

Inspired by this article? Get tips and advice on buying and selling Ecommerce businesses here.

If you’re ready to sell, check out our guide on How To Sell an Ecommerce Business.

Or if you’re ready to buy, read our complete guide on How to Buy an Ecommerce Business.

Joe Troyer is an internet entrepreneur, an has been helping businesses make more money since 2005. He is a leading expert in all things Internet Marketing: Pay Per Click Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Google Business, Reputation Management, Landing Page Conversion, and Call Tracking. Joe's latest venture is Review Grower which aims to compete in a market with competitors doing hundreds of millions a year. Thier goal is simple: By creating enterprises that address the most pressing issues affecting tomorrow's top firms, they enable growth in marketers, agencies, and companies.

Recommended for you

Discover more from Flippa

Subscribe to our Blog

Get the latest blog posts, insight reports and news directly to your inbox every week.