Updated: Jan 26
We’re in the middle of 2021 and slowly but surely the world economies are opening back up again. Restrictions are getting lifted and most of us are easing back into our normal lives. While we may be trying to connect back with life pre-Covid, what remains unchanged are some of the newly adopted consumer shopping behaviors during this time. With consumers anxious about their safety, retailers and other businesses such as restaurants, grocers came up with omni channel offerings such as curbside pick up, shop online pickup in store and so on. Touchless payment options such as mobile checkout, using Tap instead of insert or swipe became more the norm. And some of these shifts are here to stay.
Let’s look at some of the more permanent consumer buying shifts more closely -
Digital Commerce Shift # 1 - Shopping Online - While stay at home orders might have forced customers to flock online to shop for almost everything they needed, there are other factors that will keep this digital shift alive. According to Statista, referenced in a Shopify report -
63% would continue because they find delivery to home as a good reason to continue buying
57% will continue because they like the cheap prices
54% found online shopping to be more convenient
50% like the fact that they can shop online anywhere, anytime
With an increase an eCommerce spending in 2021 (5 trillion USD sales according to( BCG consumer survey) and no signs of slowing down, it is imperative that retailers and other businesses alike continue to invest in their eCommerce infrastructure including online purchase paths so they can continue to provide seamless, positive online shopping experiences for their customers.
Digital Commerce Shift # 2 - Cashless and Contactless payment options - According to Mastercard referenced in a report by NRF, eight in ten consumers are said to be using contactless payment currently and post outbreak, three quarters will continue. Customers are using their mobile phones to pay instead of their credit card or cash and because they are now used to it and find it convenient, they will likely continue with it. Digital wallets like Samsung Pay or Apple Pay that increasingly got adopted during this time will likely continue seeing growth. New payment methods such as - Buy now, Pay later got introduced in 2020 and took off as they appealed to debt averse customers. Cryptocurrency will eventually get legitimized as a payment option. Customers will continue to want and expect more digital payment methods from places they shop.
Digital Commerce Shift #3 - Omnichannel shopping habits - In the last year and half we saw businesses combine both physical and digital channels and come up with offerings such as - buy online and pick up in store, click and go, click and find and click and try giving customers convenience, flexibility, choice and an immersive experience. Today’s customer wants to be able to shop anywhere, anytime, on their laptops or mobile phones, they want their items to be available for pick up or delivered to their home, office, locker or car trunk. They want fast and efficient same day delivery service. They want to be able to check and compare prices, research stores and competitors. Companies that are able to provide these while integrating the benefits of both offline and online will continue to see more sales as customers continue preferring these options post outbreak.
Digital Commerce Shift #4 - Expanded Digital Marketplace - Social shopping or Social commerce was already underway prior to the pandemic with 72% of shoppers discovering new products on social media and 36% using it for purchase in 2019 (according to Statista). Amidst the covid crisis an increased number of shoppers adopted social commerce. In 2020, the US market alone was estimated at 26.9 Billion and by 2027 the numbers are expected to reach 604.5 Billion globally as per Research and Markets. Built-in shopping features on social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook are giving retailers a way to sell socially, raise their profiles in the eyes of their consumers. This shift in shopping where consumers are using multiple channels during their purchase journey - website, business app, instore and social media platforms, is likely to continue.
Digital Commerce Shift #5 - Evolving B2B Commerce habits - It's not just the B2C shopping habits that are shifting but also the B2B buyers that are seeing a gradual change. According to Gartner, sales reps are no longer the channel but one of the many channels organizational customers will rely on whilst making their purchase decision. With the pandemic and the ability to meet in person gone, more buyers relied on online research than ever before. Whether it was a supplier's website, their online presence or reading business blogs, buyers chose digital sources for gathering relevant information. This shift is likely to continue even as businesses go back to normal.
Every consumer, whether B2C or B2B, is ultimately looking for a seamless, personalized, consistent, constant and well connected buying experience. And brands must invest in the right kind of commerce infrastructure, tools and platforms in order to be able to compete well.