How Have Online Shopping Habits Changed During Lockdown?

by 8 Million Stories Ltd

8 Million Stories explores how online shopping habits have changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the UK still in lockdown, multiple aspects of our day to day lives have changed. There have been changes to online shopping habits that have been good news for some retailers but potentially provided a worrying insight into the future for others.

In recent weeks, shares in Amazon hit a record high of almost $2,500 per share, as people around the globe turn to the giant online retailer to buy essential items, which are becoming harder to find in local stores. The increase in sales has led to Amazon suggesting that they will look to hire 100,000 additional staff in the USA alone.

The huge surge in online sales could be here to stay. An online survey, conducted recently within the UK, suggests that 25 per cent of people are now buying items online that they previously bought in high-street retailers. The survey also highlighted that 60 per cent felt their shopping habits had changed permanently due to lockdown, with 15 per cent implying they would be more likely to shop for products online compared to going to a physical store. With many high-street retailers already feeling the strain from the financial impact of lockdown restrictions, these are worrying times indeed.

Not only have restrictions impacted high-street retailers but also their fashion manufacturers in countries such as Bangladesh. Mallzee, an Edinburgh-based shopping app, estimates that over two million USD worth of clothes have been produced but no longer needed due to cancelled orders from fashion retailers, creating a devastating impact on local economies.

Many people are earning less money than before, so it’s not a surprise that ideas like Lost Stock are proving popular. Lost Stock is box of clothing chosen for you, with a 50 per cent discount off RRP, that supports workers and prevents waste in clothing manufacturing countries that have been crippled by these cancelled orders.

Search trends suggest that although people are moving towards online shopping, shoppers are still being careful when spending their money. The chart below show searches this year for “free delivery” compared to last year.

There is an obvious spike in “free delivery” searches, with a particularly noticeable increase at the start of the lockdown in the UK:

“Free Returns” has also seen a gradual increase. This could be due to the fact that online retailers are unable to show clothing on models, meaning there is much more guess work involved for customers as they can’t judge the fit and size of clothing on a model. This has potentially lead to an increase in clothing being returned due to fit.

The spike in interest for these terms indicates that online retailers should research how they can incorporate messages on their platforms promoting the fact that they offer free delivery or returns, as this will likely improve their CTR.

It definitely feels like these consumer behaviours are here to stay and ultimately means that retailers, operating both online and within physical stores, need to examine their business models and how they work in the future in order to be able to cope with the dramatic shift in consumer behaviour.