From Then To Now: The Permanent Changes To Consumer Behaviour Amid COVID-19
Global eCommerce platform Kooomo advises retailers to optimise their online presence in response to changing consumer demands.
The ongoing pandemic is having a profound impact on consumer behaviour, now and forever. As shoppers get to grips with the new normal, discretionary spending is declining, expectations are changing and eCommerce continues to surge. In light of this, according to global eCommerce platform, Kooomo, retailers must invest more heavily in their digital presence and think innovatively about how they can enhance their services if they wish to remain competitive beyond the second wave of COVID-19.
The immense changes to consumer behaviour over the past seven months are exemplified by a recent survey by Statista which found that 46% of Britons are likely to continue avoiding the high-street even if restrictions ease. Furthermore, research by Mckinsey highlights that consumer sentiment and behaviour reflect the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, forcing us to consider the devastating impact on the UK retail industry in the coming months.
Ciaran Bollard, CEO at Kooomo, explains: “The bottom line here is that consumers are increasingly conscious and priorities have changed. Prior to the pandemic, on average shoppers’ baskets tended to be larger and their activity more frequent. However, amid the vast economic uncertainty that comes hand-in-hand with COVID-19, people have had to think more carefully about their spending. What does and doesn’t matter to UK consumers has taken a massive U-turn.”
With this in mind, Ciaran outlines four of the key changes to consumer behaviour amid COVID-19 and how retailers can adapt in such challenging times:
1. Online shopping has increased
“First and foremost, in this new era centred on safety, online shopping has witnessed an immense surge and is set to near the £175 billion barrier by the end of the year. This change in behaviour comes as no surprise and is undoubtedly here to stay as the tightening of lockdown measures comes back into play. It is the retailers who recognise this fact and optimise their online services that will be better placed to remain competitive beyond COVID-19. For smaller, indie retailers that do not have the funds or time to facilitate this, marketplace selling is a viable alternative.”
2. Consumers want secure payment methods and diverse options
“Leading on from this greater emphasis on safety, our clients have also found that consumers are turning their attention towards secure payment methods and diverse options more than ever before. With cyber-attacks becoming increasingly prominent over the past few months, retailers must ensure they are creating a check-out process that is safe and frictionless for all users. One way in which our developers are facilitating this is by enabling the Kooomo platform to support multiple languages, currencies and VAT rates. For retailers looking to follow suit, you can find out more information about Kooomo’s latest offerings here.”
3. Brand loyalty has been jeopardised
“It is also important to note that consumers have less patience when it comes to online shopping. For example, a recent UK Consumer preferences Report – conducted between June and July – found that ease of use when accessing an eCommerce site was a deciding factor for 56% of consumers. Brand loyalty has also been jeopardised, with consumers simply switching to competitors if the items they desire are out of stock or cannot be delivered quickly. Ultimately, consumers look to sites that offer a fast, secure and reliable experience, meaning retailers must get the basics covered if they want to attract and retain customers.”
4. Consumers have higher expectations
“And finally, only once their site is safe and reliable should retailers look to creating a flawless online experience for users. With everyone and everything moving online nowadays, consumers have heightened expectations when it comes to eCommerce and tend to opt for brands that offer the ultimate customer experience. Pivotal elements when building this include investing in a seamless omnichannel experience, creating an AI chatbot and focusing on hyper-personalisation. It is retailers who embrace consumers’ new expectations and invest in their eCommerce infrastructure that will spearhead this sector’s recovery.”
Ciaran concludes: “COVID-19 has undoubtedly brought about profound, uncontrollable changes to our world and consumer behaviour is no exception to this rule. Yet, retailers should not simply back away from the fight. With Back Friday and the build up to Christmas just around the corner, retailers must ensure they are optimising their online presence and catering to consumers’ needs. Ultimately, it is retailers who respond quickly to changing demands who will remain competitive in the months to come.”