COVID-19 accelerates digital shopping habits

September 22, 2020 | By RetailME Bureau

COVID-19 accelerates digital shopping habits, states Euromonitor International. Globally, online purchases of goods and services reached $6.8 trillion in 2019, more than double the amount spent in 2014. As the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, e-commerce has already posted a double-digit percentage increase.

According to Euromonitor International, nearly every category recorded a double-digit increase in the percentage of connected consumers making digital purchases between the two fielding timeframes (January 6-February 27 and March 12-April 8, 2020). The only exception was beauty, health and personal care purchases, jumping eight percentage points. In contrast, the percentage of connected consumers purchasing electronics and appliances, foodservice and travel online grew by twice as many points.

Foodservice takeaway and delivery posted one of the strongest increases, from 48% of connected consumers to 64% purchasing digitally between fielding timeframes, due to dine-in closures around the world, which forced operators and consumers to migrate online. The consumer electronics and appliances category also received a digital boost as shut-in consumers bought products for home offices, remote learning and entertainment.

As COVID-19 accelerates digital shopping habits, Michelle Evans, senior head of digital consumer, pointed out that 2020 was projected to be the tipping point for mobile commerce (m-commerce) even before the pandemic. More than half of digital commerce spend globally has been executed using a mobile device. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a higher percentage of connected consumers used mobile devices as opposed to computers to execute e-commerce purchases, which will accelerate this trajectory around the world. Even while homebound, consumers relied on their mobile phones for purchases, underscoring the importance of this device for commerce activities.

Looking ahead, According to Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Industry: COVID-19 Survey, 60% of industry professionals viewed reshaping and implementing digital strategies as a way to mitigate similar future risks, ranking as a more important action than crisis contingency planning.

Technologies like the cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) enable companies to quickly adapt to changing consumer preferences. Analytics can predict when a customer may order a product, enabling retailers to forecast demand in specific areas so they can stock accordingly. Integrating this technology into retail operations can reduce shipping, inventory and supply chain costs while improving delivery times and customer satisfaction. In addition, sensor-based technology allows retailers to track products across the supply chain and throughout physical stores. The pandemic-driven e-commerce boom exposed most retailers’ inability to locate every product within their store, which is necessary in order to satisfactorily complete curbside pickup orders.

Technology is here to stay, stated Euromonitor International, and the pandemic only accelerated the adoption of several key technologies like the cloud, AI and automation. Digitalisation is at the core of these efforts because it enables businesses to quickly enhance capabilities and maximise efficiencies across their operations. Having the right technologies in place allows for greater agility across operations, enabling businesses to react fast when consumer demands suddenly shift – all of which has been considerably magnified due to the pandemic.

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