It’s safe to say that the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we shop for the foreseeable future. Nowadays, you can buy almost anything online from the comfort of your home, with just a couple of clicks. Online shopping makes purchasing goods more convenient and accessible with the whole world at your fingertips. However, more pertinent now than ever, it is safer, allowing easy social distancing and minimises contact with strangers.
Throughout 2020, e-commerce sales stayed strong, even when UK restrictions we eased over the summer months. The end of the year saw the highest drive in sales, thanks to Black Friday, Christmas and the reactivated lockdown. Online sales for November and December grew by 39% and 37% respectively, with overall online sales growing by 36% in 2020. Overall retail, as expected, suffered a fall of 0.13%. This was the lowest annual growth figure for the last 25 years.
Since the opening of retail stores on April 12th there has been a boom in sales in-store. I’m sure you’ve seen the scenes of people queuing up to get into stores as soon as they opened. This rush of purchasing is what is being called ‘revenge purchasing’. This is where consumers have a ‘treat-me’ mentality and can’t wait to physically buy something in-store, which they could possibly find online! This isn’t sustainable for consumer’s pockets though so it will be interesting to see what happens in the retail space as things (hopefully) stay open for longer.
Which is better? (in my opinion)
Now that stores are opening back up, consumers have a choice of online vs in-store shopping. For me, online shopping will always win, here’s why;
- You can compare product features and prices all in one place, your laptop or mobile device. If you’re anything like me, you can have multiple tabs open to easily compare products. This allows you to make an informed decision on which products to buy, allowing for the whole shopping experience to be more efficient. This is because you can browse through a much larger range of vendors online than you would be able to in person. You would also have a wider, global range of products, whereas the in-store process would be limited to your town or city, unless you wanted to lug yourself around the world!
- Online reviews from other customers is also a great way to learn more about a product. This would be really hard to do in person. Going up to strangers and asking their opinion on something they may or may not have may not give you the same results as looking at the reviews. Now, of course, the reviews on a company’s website may be fake, with their own employees writing most of them. So, it’s always a good idea to cross check with other review sites, and my personal favourite, Youtube!
- Online stores allow companies to sell more products than if they were limited to shelf space in a brick and mortar store. For the company this means lower overheads, and for the consumer, a wider variety of products which may be at a lower price.
The grocery sector continued to grow last year. People panic buying toilet rolls definitely gave it a head start. At Christmas time the grocery sector actually saw the biggest surge, with 5.7 million extra households shopping for their groceries online compared to 2019. The pandemic has also opened the doors of online shopping to the older generation of consumers, who have come to realise the convenience that it can bring.
However, this is the one area in which I’m not fully converted to the online way. As they’ve pretty much been the only stores open during the pandemic, the grocery shop has a special place in my heart. I prefer to see what produce I’m buying, especially if it’s fresh fruit and veg.
One advantage of doing the grocery shop online though is that it can reduce the number of impulse buys, which I am very guilty of. It can also allow you to budget your shop more effectively as you can watch the total add up in your basket instead of waiting till you’ve picked up everything to then be surprised at the checkout. I think I’ve gotten pretty good at estimating my shop total as I walk through the aisles though, and the impulse buys are quite fun in my opinion. Yes, this pandemic has really altered my idea of ‘fun’. Also, there are sometimes deals and new products that you may miss out on if you’re doing a more efficient online shop. I think it’s pretty obvious that it’ll be a while till I convert to online grocery shopping.
How to boost online sales
It has become apparent, with the downfall of many multichannel stores that the brand’s overall online presence is very important. The e-commerce site needs to be up to the same standards of the online only retailers, such as Boohoo, that are booming. More sophisticated sites are now needed to enable the consumer to make online purchases and keep on coming back. The customer’s journey needs to be more than just a find, click, pay situation. The whole thing needs to be a great shopping experience. Personalisation is a big part of the online experience and one company that we have worked with that specialises in this is Nosto. Read more about how we enabled companies to maximise their selling potential with Nosto.
If you want to know more about how we can help boost your online sales then contact us here!