In our research, we found that 78% of consumers will be buying online more frequently over the next year, with 20% claiming they’ll only shop online within five years, proving that the online retail channel is more powerful than ever.
Amazon still dominates online, and is set to be an even bigger winner over the next twelve months with 56% of consumers saying they will use it more in 2021 but 30% of shoppers say they do feel “guilty” about abandoning physical stores for the ease of Amazon.
Delivery Reliability Remains a Sticking Point
Despite the success of online retail since the start of the pandemic, 61% of consumers have experienced some problems buying from brands online — with a quarter of shoppers having been let down by an online order since the crisis started.
Delivery reliability has created a crisis of confidence amongst some consumers, with 48% of U.S. buyers now saying that online deliveries take longer to arrive since the crisis.
It’s not a stretch to say that today’s e-commerce market is fraught with fulfilment issues as more online demand causes costly errors. As consumers move online, vendors must process increased demand of online orders more quickly — and that can lead to mistakes.
If you’re running out of stock or shipping to the wrong addresses on a regular basis, these mishaps are often down to ineffective workflows or human error that really should be automated to increase speed and accuracy.
There has been a big shift to online post-Covid but concern over delivery reliability has created a crisis of confidence in some consumers, and brands could still suffer or miss out on this digital opportunity if they don’t improve service, especially after the Buy button. As the data shows, on the delivery side of the equation, that simply isn't happening at the level it should be.
The Rise of Local Shopping
One of the main shifts in spending habits since Covid has been the switch to more local shopping and a move away from malls.
Incredibly, 75% of shoppers plan to spend more at local shopping streets than before the pandemic and 71% say they will increase spending with independent retailers, illustrating that the trend towards localism is here to stay, which is likely to continue to be reinforced by our own remote working habits, which are set to remain for the foreseeable future.
With shopping malls proving less popular, 56% of retailers plan to close physical stores in 2021 in response to plummeting footfall, with two thirds of shoppers (66%) saying they won't visit a mall next year
Our data suggests retailers will look to embrace localism, with many already making plans to move stores to high street locations with increasingly strong foot traffic. In our research, almost 1 in 5 said they plan to move stores out of major city centres and into local shopping streets within the next 12 months.
Retail parks have also proved to be resilient destinations during the pandemic as shoppers felt safer driving to such stores which tend to be more spacious, and this aligns with our research findings which reveal 41% of shoppers also plan to increase their use of buy-online-pickup-in-store services over the next year.
Some retailers may be hesitant to make changes post-Covid, looking at the trends above as being temporary blips. However, only 27% of American shoppers say they will continue to shop as they did before the crisis, even when things return to normal, so sellers must be prepared to adapt to this once-in-a-generation retail transformation. Those that do will see the most success long-term.
Derek O’Carroll is CEO of Brightpearl, a retail operations platform for retailers and wholesalers.