It’s been just over a year and a half since the world was introduced to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. We have had 18 months of stores around the world needing to pivot and adapt to radically new and challenging guidelines to continue their businesses. Largely, this meant a shift to e-commerce - whether that was “traditional” online ordering with delivered products or online ordering for curbside pickup. There was a lot of speculation on how COVID-19 would impact the future of e-commerce, and we are starting to see its lasting effects.
A study was done in May of 2020, using consumers from US, UK, Canada, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Bulgaria to see if and how COVID-19 had affected their shopping habits. Of the 8000 people surveyed, 38% said they planned to do more online shopping - even after physical distancing mandates were over. In the US, Italy and Bulgaria, that number was closer to half. The most common reason given for this change was the convenience of shopping online, as well as just down right enjoying the experience! Second to that, consumers reported safety concerns as a major reason for continuing to shop online. Of those surveyed who said they wouldn’t continue to shop online, 44% said they prefer in-store shopping. Interestingly, in the whole study, 9% said they already do all of their shopping online, and that rises to 13% in the US. More on that study can be found here: https://www.paysafe.com/en/blog/lit-the-long-term-impact-of-covid-19-on-ecommerce/
A whole year has gone by since that study was conducted. With half of 2021 under our belt, it seems predictions were correct. As of right now, 19.5% of total year retail sales are projected to be online purchases - up from 18% in 2020 and 13.6% in 2019. That is a major leap from 2019 to 2020 and future projections are similarly increasing. It seems COVID-19 was a catalyst for the switch that was already underway. People enjoy online shopping, and we will continue to see this preference trending upwards.
So how can you, the merchant, use this to your advantage? The big push is to focus on user experience in your online store. This makes sense. With an influx of e-commerce traffic, you’ll want to make sure your store is up-to-date with consumer expectations. In that study we mentioned earlier, 48% of consumers don't feel comfortable entering their financial data, and 75% would rather use a payment method where their financial details aren't shared with the merchant. This can be a great way to give your customers choice and options in their user experience. We’ve just learned at Shopify’s Unite Conference, that this will be easier than ever with a fully customizable checkout experience!
Even more important, mobile commerce (or m-commerce) is expected to soon be half of all online sales. This means that it is critical for your store to be both desktop and mobile-friendly. If more consumers are shopping online for convenience’s sake, why not make it even more convenient? With a mobile-friendly store, your customers can shop anytime, anywhere.You might recall in 2020, when Shopify rolled out their curbside pickup feature. This feature was rolled out to keep everyone safe - and businesses doing business - while physically distancing, but it has also seen exponential growth as we come out of the pandemic. Nearly half of consumers have tried it and 81% are hoping to try it soon. It’s just another way to give your customers choice, the option to have your products delivered or picked up at their brick and mortar store. And that kind of flexibility will keep them coming back.