The days of containment are numbered, but the online shopping revolution is permanent – Services
It goes without saying that COVID-19 has completely changed the way we shop.
Online retailing, already a huge industry before the pandemic, has accelerated to record highs as lockdowns and social distancing requirements have forced consumers to reconsider their shopping behaviors.
This is not a short term blip. The changes that were initially seen as a mere anomaly of a short-lived pandemic have been proven to be permanent, and most consumers do not consider reverting to their old ways.
To better understand these changes and their impact on retailers and marketers, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PureProfile Australian Ecommerce Report 2021 surveyed 1,000 Australians who have purchased online at least once in the past 12 month.
The report delves into the factors that determine brand selection, inspiration and discovery, to help marketers better understand the changes that will shape the future of e-commerce.
The form of shopping has changed dramatically, with more than half (56%) of respondents increasing their frequency of online retail purchases during COVID-19. In June 2021, when the majority of Australia was no longer blocked, 76% of online shoppers reported that they still shop online at least once a month.
The report says the fundamental change in the way we buy is not just a temporary change. Consumers don’t plan to return to pre-pandemic shopping habits, with just 36% saying they will return to in-person shopping once the pandemic is over.
With consumers continuing to shop online more regularly, the brands that are expected to thrive will combine solid research and social prowess, easy-to-reach customer service, and fast local delivery. Research has shown that convenience is the number one reason people buy online, followed by free shipping, lower prices, and discounts.
To succeed in this new e-commerce landscape, brands must invest in digital transformation and adapt their product categories to new consumer needs. Fashion brands, for example, have adapted with home modifications and comfortable additions designed for a nation in lockdown. In fact, clothing has become the number one shopping category, with 72% of online shoppers making an online clothing purchase in the past year.
Along with relevant products and strong customer experiences, consumers demand that brands authentically present their values and ethical credentials. The report showed that consumers are more likely to buy from brands that ‘performed well’ during the pandemic, with 56% of direct brand buyers and 39% of non-direct brand buyers more likely to buy from of these brands.
While it’s easy to believe that sustainability has trumped the pandemic, the data suggests otherwise. Ethical and sustainable brands resonate more strongly with buyers of direct-to-consumer brands, with 54% of direct brand buyers preferring to buy from brands they know are sustainable. Local brands were popular, with 46% of online shoppers buying more things online from local retailers since the pandemic.
When looking for inspiration, research and social media are also the number one source for 18-29 year olds, with half of Australian millennials agreeing that social media is an important part of how they look. find products to buy.
While social media and search are clearly vital tools, owned media channels also play a vital role in inspiring customers as they move down the funnel. Owned marketing channels are essential for communicating with online shoppers, with 59% often reading content produced and distributed by retailers through retailer websites, emails and catalogs.
Rewards programs are popular with online shoppers, but more transparency is needed before consumers can fully trust these programs. While nine in 10 online shoppers are signed up for at least one buyer rewards program, almost a third (30%) are unsure whether the retailer is sharing their data provided through loyalty programs with customers. other companies.
With the lockdown ending, it would be easy to assume that life is about to return to “normal” and that pre-pandemic strategies may resume. In fact, brands need to realize that consumer behavior has fundamentally changed and remains so.
A combination of enhanced customer experiences, convenient delivery times, supported by local, sustainable and ethical options are what is needed to thrive in the retail environment of the future. Consumers have tasted the value, convenience and ease of well-designed online delivery, and they won’t settle for less.
Gai Le Roy is CEO of IAB Australia.