Consumers stay connected as 85,000 online shops open

online shopThe online shopping boom looks to be here to stay, with consumers embracing the change and tens of thousands of retailers eyeing the opportunity to build up their businesses as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

According to a Wunderman Thompson Commerce study, fewer than two in ten (16%) UK consumers intend to return to their old shopping habits, with nearly half (48%) of shoppers still scared to visit in-store.

The study shows that Internet purchasing accounted for 62% of all shopping during lockdown, compared to 43% before the pandemic, and, although it will settle down moving forward, it is forecast that online shopping will still account for over half (51%) of all spend.

While shopping habits may have had to change during lockdown, familiar factors have emerged: 61% of shoppers identified free delivery as a key purchase driver, with availability (57%) and price (53%) coming in as close second and third choices. Yet, when asked what consumers would like to see change most in their online shopping experience, free returns (28%) topped the list.

Amazon’s share in the ecommerce market swelled, with over a third (35%) of all online shopping conducted through the marketplace during the lockdown period, reinforcing the company as a big retail winner in the wake of the pandemic.

One-in-five (20%) said their net intention to purchase with Amazon post-Covid-19 will increase, despite 21% of people expressing worry about Amazon’s ever-increasing dominance.

Even so, Tesco led the battle of the supermarkets and saw a significant 23% improvement in net perception; while the net intention to purchase post-Covid-19 rose by 9%. Competitors Sainsbury’s and Morrisons both saw a 12% net rise in positive perception respectively.

Meanwhile, a separate study by Growth Intelligence’s shows that over 85,000 businesses have launched online over the past four months; the highest number of new ecommerce offerings ever recorded over a four-month period.

The research reveals that the fashion and apparel sector have led the way, with 8,665 retailers adding new ecommerce payment methods and technology.

Other less likely business sectors moving online included manufacturing, food and drink retail and industrial food production companies, which saw 7,129, 4,156, and 3,767 new ecommerce offerings launched respectively.

According to the research, many of these companies that would usually have distributed via third-party retail outlets have begun selling direct-to-consumers online for the first time.

Growth Intelligence chief executive Tom Gatten said: “It’s remarkable to see the speed at which small businesses across the country have adapted. Being unable to trade in the traditional sense has been a catalyst in driving digital transformation and where one door has closed, this nation of shopkeepers has forced another to open.

“Thousands of businesses are making the most of the tremendous opportunity that growing demand for online shopping is creating. While our data shows a very slow return to what we previously considered ‘normal’, the new environment is opening new markets and this will reinvigorate the economy.”

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