Needless to say, a lot of things have changed since 2020. As we readjust to what is now called the “new normal”, one of the most radical and fastest shifts we’ve seen has been in consumer trends and the spiked growth in ecommerce.
In 2020, 53% of North American consumers stated that the pandemic has changed how they shop going forward, meaning that for many people, these new shopping habits are here to stay. With ecommerce up by 39% in the first quarter of 2021, it’s safe to say that collectively, our shopping habits are turning to online platforms.
In this article, we will be looking at the different shopping habits worthy of note and what they could mean for your ecommerce business in 2021 and onwards.
1. More online shopping
One of the biggest and immediate responses we have seen during the start of the Covid-19 crisis is a change in the way people shop. From bulk and panic buying to an increase in online shopping.
While the instances of bulk and panic buying may have waned, the pandemic has accelerated the increase of online shopping this year, and that is a fact that’s hard to miss. Lockdowns across the world were tough on physical retail stores that had to shut down temporarily at a great cost, which subsequently had its effect on buyer habits as well.
52% of buyers reportedly spent more money on online shopping as it was the safer and more accessible option. While 60% reported that they spent more time online shopping this year, while 6% shopped online for the first time ever.
According to Forbes, the trend of the increase in online shopping isn’t going anywhere, and report that more consumers are shopping online even as physical stores are re-opening. This trend shows that online shopping and its growth this year isn’t going anywhere and that brands need to make reassessments in order to create the best online shopping experiences possible for their customers, adjusting to the new digital demand.
2. Support for local businesses
The renewed support for local businesses is indeed a silver lining as 75% of consumers plan to or already support local merchants as Covid-19 has affected globalization.
The appetite for small and local businesses is fed by the unique offerings and sense of personalized service from when we shop locally. This trend is also growing as local business owners can turn to social media to peddle their local wares and services. Most respondents learn about a new local business from word of mouth through friends and family, and through social media.
3. Local delivery
In relation to the increase in supporting local businesses, local deliveries have also increased in demand and popularity over in-store shopping. Many businesses had to take on new measures to get their products to their customers and have resorted to new methods to do so.
Many local delivery apps have seen an increase in the use of their services with 19% of consumers reporting to have bought something online only to have their purchases delivered locally for the first time ever, whether they use the local delivery services to get their favorite restaurant meal, order cookies from a local seller, or the next two weeks worth of groceries.
The local delivery trend shows no sign of slowing this year as in-person shopping is still considered a risk. Not to mention that it is also generally more convenient to have goods, both essential and non-essential simply delivered straight to your door.
4. People Spend Less
During times of uncertainty such as these, people have a tendency to spend more carefully. While there is an increase in online or digital shopping, there has been a decrease in consumer spending overall. This correlates to the decrease in the household income of many families and individuals. People are cutting back on luxury vacations and services that they used to spend their “disposable” income on in favor of saving up.
Online businesses can provide customers with the opportunity to save money with cheaper alternatives during times of crisis. The biggest gainers during this time are online businesses, electronic companies, DIY-ers, pharmaceuticals, the online education industry, furniture and household products, and personal care categories.
While consumers are becoming more careful on how and where they spend their money with their new sense of frugality, online stores benefit over physical store locations because they don’t necessarily have to have nearly as many expenses as a physical store, meaning that you may be able to one-up your competitors by offering more affordable pricing to your customers. As long as a business can survive with minimal overhead cost, you’ll be able to capitalize on the unique opportunities that a crisis can pose.
5. Virtual products and experiences
Among the non-essential businesses that have had to shut down this year are places like theaters, gyms, salons, and studios of every kind, resulting in the need to cater to a more home-based economy.
For instance, more people have been buying at-home exercise programs instead of buying a gym membership, or signing up for online cooking or photography classes. What most people formerly considered to be face-to-face activities are turning into virtual services that are in line with people’s need to stay socially distant.
And since people may not feel comfortable going out, virtual experiences like classes and other services might continue to rise in the future. This poses a big opportunity for those who can create a virtual version of their product because it removes geographical and temporal restrictions. For instance, if you are a fitness instructor, now can be a good time to publish and sell personalized fitness routines for clients all over the world who are trying to maintain their figure or get fit during the pandemic.
Back to You
The research results suggest that changes in online activities are likely to outlast the COVID-19 crisis, as consumer habits continue to evolve around the new economic realities of our time. For the ecommerce entrepreneur, it’s important to remember that times of crisis, big or small, are inventible. And that upon closer scrutiny, times of crisis offer unique new opportunities brought about by the new circumstances and demands of our times.
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