Retail will never get back to normal. This is a good thing.

Lots of people wanted things to get back to normal during the pandemic, but new research shows alternative spending habits are here to stay.

June 14, 2021

5 minutes to read

Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.


“I can’t wait to get back to normal.

It’s a sentiment we’ve heard many times, and probably told each other at least once, since the start of the pandemic. The desire to see things as they once were is the number of us who have spent a lot of time over the past year and a half, and the hope of a return to normal has been widely used as coping mechanism. However, there are a variety of aspects of our lives that will probably never return to normal. The way we buy is part of it.

Take the place where we shopped most often, for example. For many of us that changed and a boom in e-commerce adoption followed. Especially at the onset of the pandemic, when we have all done our best to stay home and socially distanced, not only has the frequency of online orders increased, but new online shoppers have also shown up at a pace. unprecedented.

At Bazaarvoice, this has been reflected in our customer network of 1,750 retailers; online orders increased 39% year-over-year in 2020 globally. In our global survey, we found that three-quarters (74%) of people have shopped in stores less regularly since the Covid-19 epidemic a habit that 32% of American buyers and 37% of European buyers want to keep after the pandemic.

Related: The Outlook for the Fashion Retail Industry After Covid – Then and Now

Shoppers browse and discover items more frequently online than in-store

The increase in e-commerce adoption has continued this year and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, a third of shoppers reported buying something online at least once a week, and 9% said they shop online daily. For this reason, companies that had already started to embrace e-commerce, or had already developed a mature business strategy in the space, had an advantage when their physical stores closed in early 2020.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that shoppers are not only buying more online, but also browsing more online. Because “real” window shopping was pretty much out the window in 2020, consumers have instead replaced the habit with scrolling through brand and retail websites. And now it turns out that not only shoppers browse and discover items much more frequently online (61%) than in-store (34%), but they also like to do it online (54%) more than in-store (40%) and find it easier online (64%) than in-store ( 32%)). Buyers attribute their preference for digital reading to convenience (55%), more choice (46%), and the ability to research reviews and products (45%).

Related: Why You Should Bet On The Future Of Ecommerce

This increase in e-commerce is not just happening on the websites of brands and retailers, it is also happening on their social media channels. In a survey we conducted earlier this year, 74 percent of respondents said they either agree or strongly agree that they are more influenced to buy via social media now than before the pandemic. About a third (35%) said before the pandemic they rarely shopped on social media, but since the effects of Covid-19 set the new normal, 30% say they now do often . And shoppers said they legitimately enjoy shopping on social media – 55% said they liked it and 43% said it depended on the platform. Only 2% said they didn’t like it. Social media platforms are becoming more accessible to everyone, and brands and retailers need to ensure that they integrate social commerce into their omnichannel approach.

New shopping preferences are forcing physical changes in stores

But to achieve resounding success, companies have had to adapt not only their digital strategies, but also physical ones: consumers are not completely abandoning bricks and mortar. Retailers who had sophisticated online shopping and in-store pickup (BOPIS) programs such as curbside delivery saw a huge return on this investment during the pandemic. For example, Target reported that when consumers order using their BOPIS options, fulfillment costs decrease by 90% compared to what it would cost to fulfill an order in a warehouse and ship an order to the customer’s home. . Our research shows that buyers love these options and will likely continue to use them after the pandemic is over. A large majority (83%) of consumers who have tried new ways of shopping, or even new brands, during the pandemic intend to continue shopping that way in the future.

Related: What’s Next For Ecommerce And Digital Retail?

The growing consumer preference for these new ways of shopping is forcing physical changes in the stores themselves. Some of the larger retailers have already started to rework their store plans so that they can exist simultaneously as distribution centers and stores for consumers, who now collect items from the shelves alongside store associates who run. the orders. Other stores are getting smaller in order to devote more space to online fulfillment, which narrows the store’s product selection, leading customers to buy online.

With such extraordinary changes that have garnered such a positive response from consumers, there is no going back to what was once “normal” in retail, even just two years ago. But that’s not such a bad thing. Increased convenience and more places to shop from anywhere in the world is what many would certainly consider an improvement over before. If this is the “normal” news, I can’t wait to see what happens next.


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