The ecommerce trends likely to stick post-pandemic

Black Friday is just around the corner and even during challenging economic times, there are reasons to be a little bit optimistic about sales this year.

The very nature of the way consumers shop has been changed forever. 

New research by Shopify has revealed some trends that will more than likely stick with us for the foreseeable future. Certainly for the future in which we see Black Friday. 

In June, Shopify surveyed consumers in Canada and the US about how much their buying habits have changed since the start of the global pandemic. Some of the answers were obvious - like pinching pennies a bit tighter at the height of the pandemic.

But the research also revealed what consumers are looking for when shopping online. Most notably? The study found that 53% of North American buyers said that the pandemic has changed the way they will shop going forward.

Before we get into the deets, let's look at some of the key insights gained form the research. 

  • Increase in online shopping
  • Support for local and independent businesses
  • Demand for curbside pickup
  • Shift toward virtual experiences

The increase in online shopping is kind of obvious. It's not like there was much of a choice when movement was restricted. 

But it's who those people are that will matter in future. You know, the good old buying persona. 

Here's what stood out from the whole people shifting to shop online thing: 

A whopping 83% of buyers said they made at least one online purchase during the first three months of the pandemic, while 81% say they'll be sticking to shopping online for the rest of 2020 - so that includes Black Friday. 

And while we know that there was a sharp increase in the older generation adopting online shopping for the first time,  9% of the 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed reported that it was their first rodeo. 

Loving local 

Out of all the grim realities of the pandemic, there was a renewed sense of support for the local players. Whether that was down to supply chain issues for the big dogs, or simply because of an inherent sense of wanting to do something good, 57% of buyers are looking for local, independent businesses to back. 

Shopify's research also showed that this is very much out of a sense of duty with 79% of buyers who shopped locally saying they did so to support their communities or protect local jobs. 

Almost half of shoppers bought something from a local, independent business during lockdown and 34% reported doing this more often than they did pre-pandemic. 

Consumers also say they will continue supporting their local retailers in the next six months. But here's the important thing: a large group of those local shoppers (66% of Shopify's surveyed consumers) said they found the local business through recommendations from friends or family.

While word-of-mouth marketing will always be at the top of the trusted list, if your would-be-customers can’t find you, they can’t decide whether they trust you or not.

Whether it’s making sure your local SEO is up to scratch (ahem, like we’ve told you to do before…) or zoning in on the powerful targeting offered through Facebook or Google Ads – people want to shop local. So make sure people know that you are local. 

Curbside is a vibe 

Another thing that surged in popularity is the click and collect option offered by ecommerce retailers.

It's not always the first thing retailers consider when deciding on delivery logistics, but Shopify found that 72% of buyers said they used it more often than before between March and June - with just over 30% saying they used that option for the first time.

Curbside collection can help reduce delivery waiting times, especially if cost is a consideration for a small, local ecommerce retailer. But don’t be fooled – it is not always the easier option and it won’t always make a dent in your logistics.

Local grocery stores, for example, have to remember that somebody will still have to pick and pack those orders.  

Local grocery stores, for example, have to remember that somebody will still have to pick and pack those orders. And they have to be as perfect as all the other orders. 

You also need a good spot to actually use as your collection point. For small businesses, this can be challenging. But there are ways to make this process a bit easier. One of our clients, Rebelstork, offers both local delivery at a flat rate and local pick up through a collection partner. 

Much like with all other things in retail, the rule of thumb remains: never over promise and under deliver. 

It's a virtual world 

From conferences to gyms, social distancing measures have meant sometimes, there just was no other choice but to shout "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW" while wearing your prettiest blouse with your PJ bottoms.

This digitisation of stuff isn't nearly as big as you might think it is - with Shopify's research showing that just 14% of buyers purchased a digital version of something that would normally be done in person. 

While not all things can go digital (not yet, anyway), you can always consider a supplementary digital offering. If you sell cookware, for example, pair up with a local grocery supplier for online cooking lessons, for example. A double whammy of backing a local business and offering a value add to your customers. 

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