The coronavirus has upended consumers’ lives worldwide, and those dramatic shifts extend to shopping trends and what consumers want from retailers.
36% of respondents shop online weekly, up from 28% pre-COVID-19, according to a July survey of 5,000 consumers in North American and Europe from Selligent, which provides omnichannel marketing services to companies, including retailers and brands.
29% of consumers say they shop more online than in-person. However, 36% say they don’t shop more online than in person and 35% say they do both.
The vendor’s third-annual Global Connected Consumer Index Report also investigates how consumers plan to shop when the coronavirus subsides. When asked what their shopping preferences will be when life returns to “a new normal,” 39% of respondents say they will conduct a mix of online and in-store shopping. 28% will shop mostly online, 24% say “they can’t wait” to shop in a store and 10% haven’t planned that far ahead.
Additionally, 54% of respondents report that sales and deals are the most valuable communications from brands right now. Consumers also say they want messages that move away from ‘we’re here for you’ and more towards ‘here’s how we can help you,’ the report notes.
Retailers also may want to be cautious about how often they ping their customers. For example, 39% of consumers reported that they unsubscribed from at least three brand email lists in the last six months, with 55% citing “too many emails” as the reason, the most popular choice.
Additionally, the report notes:
- 76% of respondents desire real-time app and email updates on changes or delays related to their purchases.
- 64% want mobile and contactless pickup or check-in options.
- 64% say privacy is more important than online experience. However, that figure dropped from 74% in the 2019 study.
- 71% want to know product availability before purchasing online or in-store.
- 51% say that free products and buyer perks (secret sales, free shipping, promo codes) are the best ways for brands to show they care.
- 81% value flexibility in returns or cancellations.
- 75% of consumers say they prefer to receive messages via email or mobile.
- 60% of shoppers are prioritizing the purchase of essential items when shopping online.
- 60% want curbside pickup options.
Meanwhile, another survey finds shoppers plan to use buy online pick up in store more. 80% of shoppers expect to increase BOPIS and curbside pickup over the next six months, and 85% of shoppers have significantly increased curbside pickup since the pandemic began, according to a July and August survey of 2,510 U.S. shoppers who planned to visit a store for an in-store purchase, order pickup or customer service in the next six months.
Additionally, while 91% of shoppers miss shopping in stores, only 5% plan to try a product in-store in the next six months, making BOPIS and contactless pickup essential. The report, The New Store Shopper in High-Touch Retail, was commissioned by supply chain and omnichannel services provider Manhattan Associates and conducted by digital research firm Incisiv.
However, stores could make the store pickup process easier on shoppers. For example, 81% of shoppers rated the availability of preferred pickup date and time three stars or lower (out of five). This is compared with 85% of shoppers who rated ease of completing an online order four stars or higher, suggesting retailers are focusing more on the pre-sale experience and could use improvement in fulfillment.
The report also finds:
- 79% of respondents say contactless store pickup is very important to them.
- 90% prefer home delivery over a store visit in the next six months, and only 28% plan to increase in-store shopping. Safety—be it for in-store purchase or order pickup—is a top priority, respondents say.
- For 80% of shoppers, digital communications with store associates over the next six months are “likely” or “very likely.”
Other e-retail research suggests the online shopping surge is leveling off in some categories. After a massive 66% spike in daily online sales year over year for May, early August averaged 7% higher daily online sales and 3% growth in daily traffic compared with a year earlier, ecommerce personalization platform Nosto reports.
Home and garden ecommerce is still going strong, however. Early August daily online sales for home and garden retailers were up 28% year over year, Nosto says.
The overall ecommerce conversion rate is around 6% higher year over year as of August, which suggests that either shoppers are much more committed to making purchases when they visit online stores or that retailers are doing a better job at convincing them to buy, Nosto says. However, average order value is trending slightly below last year, most likely because people are being cautious with their spending due to economic uncertainty.
Other findings from the study include:
- Daily online fashion and accessory sales are up 10% year over year for early August.
- Additionally, daily visits to fashion and accessories sites are up 15%, daily sales up 18%, and conversion rates up 12% in August compared with the start of the study on March 1. (The study covers a 140 day period between March 1 and August 1).
- The online average order value within fashion and accessories is down 6% from the start of the pandemic.
- Beauty and skin care online sales are down 15% in early August compared with a year earlier and traffic to those sites is down 6%.
- Beauty and skin care daily visits are down 11%, daily sales down 20%, conversion rate down 5% and average order value up slightly (2%) for early August compared with the beginning of the March.
- For home and garden e-retailers, daily traffic in early August was up 24%, daily sales up 42%, conversion rates up 5% and average order value up 6% when compared with early March.
“With many consumers expecting to be at home more, even after lockdowns have lifted, they are happy to spend more money online to improve their living space and make it more comfortable,” says Jake Chatt head of brand marketing for Nosto. “And with vacation travel also not a possibility for many, people may also have been tempted to divert that spending toward purchases for their homes.”
Nosto’s The State of Ecommerce Q3 2020 study analyzed the performance of 500 online retail brands in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Nordics and Asia Pacific in March and August 2020 compared with 2019 for its findings.