Online shopping has come a long way in recent years. And it’s only going to continue to grow in the years to come. To learn more about it, AfterShip conducted a study of the state of online shopping in late 2021.
Some details about the shoppers we spoke to
- ~500 people around the globe
- Between 18-75 years old
- 51 countries represented
What you need to know
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, eCommerce and the online buying experience have evolved dramatically. Consumer patterns, requirements, and considerations are all noticeably different than they were a few years ago—and things are only beginning to settle.
However, there is a silver lining. To take advantage of this shift, eCommerce companies must modify their client experience to minimize friction and offer value at every stage of the customer journey.
We'll take a deep dive into 4 areas of opportunity.
1) eCommerce is still surging
The industry saw sales surge higher than ever before. We saw unprecedented numbers of millennials shopping online, larger households shopping more than ever, and in-store retail yet to rebound following the COVID-19 pandemic.
For online retailers, 2021 continued to present additional challenges as the state of eCommerce and buying behavior evolved. Our data revealed that 68% of customers shopped online at least once a week (vs 60% for in-store), demonstrating a comfort level with buying goods from all categories online.
2) Customer concerns remain consistent
The concerns over quality and size are still a deterrent to clicking the "buy" button. Fortunately, these roadblocks may be viewed as warning signs where customer experience improvement is most needed.
Consumers identified problems such as not being able to ensure product quality, the danger of their package getting lost, and delayed deliveries when asked about their primary frustrations. These findings suggest significant concerns that businesses should address head-on.
Retailers should focus on setting expectations for the product, proactive communication for shipping exceptions, and the promise of smooth returns.
3) Customers are happy to shop around
Over the last 6 months, almost 80% of people decided to try a new retailer. This number highlights the many customers who believe that a better experience is available elsewhere—simultaneously a reason for hope and concern.
New merchants constantly entice customers with more pleasant shopping experiences. With the growing number of internet stores and businesses collaborating to improve convenience for consumers, eCommerce availability and competitive pricing are on the rise.
What’s more, consumers report high motivation to try out new retailers in order to find the best deal for the products they are looking for as well as a higher variety of products.
4) Shipping is unreliable
Almost 75% of people reported a lost, delayed, stolen, or damaged shipment. Retailers inevitably bear the brunt of consumer frustration when this occurs, but there are opportunities to take control of the situation.
While retailers rarely have any direct control over their chosen carrier’s performance, they are typically held responsible for a package until it arrives in the customer’s hands.
For retailers that want to have a competitive advantage over something other than price—offering a fast and reliable delivery is seemingly the next biggest opportunity.
Most people will change their shopping habits in a post-COVID world
Unsurprisingly, a majority of consumers are keen to get out of the house and into stores again. When asked, 62% of people said they would love to be back shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. On the other hand, 32% of people seem to be committed to eCommerce when they say they’re happy with their current shopping habits.