Online marketplaces such as Amazon and Zalando may be set to be the big winners of the second UK-wide lockdown surge, according to new research from ChannelAdvisor, which dives into how COVID has fundamentally altered the way consumers discover, research and buy products.
As shoppers have become more accustomed to the online experience across marketplaces and social platforms, the digital landscape has become ultra-competitive, with brands fighting to attract the attention of these fast moving savvy shoppers. This second lockdown is proving to be totally different from the first for brands and retailers, as shoppers are more confident and are shopping online earlier and in much greater volume.
With non-essential bricks and mortar closed, ecommerce platform ChannelAdvisor and research firm Dynata surveyed 1,022 UK online shoppers. Over half (52%) of respondents said they would begin their online shopping journey on online marketplaces. 30% said they would begin browsing on Google, while just 19% expect to begin with a brand or retailer’s website.
In signs that this behaviour had changed over time, 45% of online shoppers said they were spending more time on Amazon since the Coronavirus crisis began in March, with 33% saying they were spending more time on other marketplaces.
Window Shopping in COVID Lockdown surge
With consumers spending more time online than ever before, there were also signs that marketplaces will play a significant role in how many discover their purchases in the next two months. When asked where they had discovered products purchased online, 58% of respondents said they had found them while browsing marketplaces. 22% said they had discovered products via adverts on Google search, 17% named ads via TV or streaming platforms, while 18% said ads on social media channels.
This figure is far higher among 18-25 year olds, with 32% of this demographic saying they had discovered online purchases via social media adverts.
With so many channels to choose from, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about where and how they research online. 85% said they had researched products on Amazon since March 2020, while 76% said they had researched purchases on Google. 31% said they had researched products via Facebook, while 25% said they had used Instagram to research potential purchases.
Again these figures were higher among the 18-25 year old demographic, with 49% saying they had researched products via Facebook and 56% saying they had researched via Instagram.
What’s motivating customer choice?
With digital channels providing a major shopping avenue, factors influencing consumer purchases are also changing. When asked what influenced their buying decisions, 44% of customers said reviews – a rise from 28% when ChannelAdvisor asked more than 1,000 consumers the same question in May 2020.
78% said price played a role – an increase from 70% in May. Delivery speed also remains a major factor with two in five (43%) saying it was an important consideration – this was the same figure as the May 2020 survey.
Retail fulfilment networks will come under pressure as consumers head online in droves and retailers will need to work hard to meet customer expectations. Just a third of respondents said they were worried about items being delivered on time, while 67% said this was not a concern.
“Brands face a nationwide lockdown which is shaping up to be quite unlike the first, combining the frenzy of Black Friday with the fact that a vast number of consumers have become online shopping veterans. These shoppers know what they want to buy, they’ve become experienced in where to look for it and the digital landscape will likely be ultra-competitive, so retailers must act now to ensure their digital shop fronts are up to scratch.
This data highlights clear ways that retailers and brands can target consumers, utilising marketplaces to provide up to date and accurate information to help with product research and harnessing social media advertising to appeal to younger shoppers. Most importantly, retailers should not rest on their laurels. This period provides an opportunity to capture new customers who have grown more comfortable and confident with shopping online during the pandemic and retain their loyalty even after high street restrictions are lifted.”
– Vladi Shlesman, EMEA Managing Director, ChannelAdvisor