Bizrate Insights· Author
Throughout 2020 we kept up with COVID-19’s impact on the retail industry. We reported on early trends and changes in consumer behavior, encouraging retailers to take advantage of consumer insights and new technology. With 2021 around the corner, industry professionals wonder which changes will remain permanent and where they can tap into growth opportunities. As we look at our top posts of the year, we can see it also serves as a timeline of COVID-19’s impact on the ecommerce industry. Find out what resonated most with our audience in our top nine posts of 2020.
Top 9 posts of 2020
While it feels like the beginning of the year was a decade ago, our 2020 holiday shopping predictions weren’t too far off. Looking at 2019 holiday data, we predicted:
- Ecommerce’s holiday market share will experience slow growth.
- Convenience will be the top priority during the season instead of free shipping.
- Customer satisfaction will rise, but loyalty won’t necessarily increase with it.
COVID-19 changed everyone’s behavior and, as a result, disrupted some of our predictions. For example, one recent industry report shows that 44% more people shopped online this year than in 2019, the opposite of our first prediction.
Buy online pick up in-store programs took center stage during COVID-19, but the ecommerce industry has been covering their expansion for some time. Bizrate Insights launched a BOPIS survey solution in 2019 and in 2020 implemented updates to include specific questions for curbside experience.
This targeted survey allows retailers to take advantage of real-time feedback and update their BOPIS program accordingly. Initial responses were vital during the earliest months of the pandemic and continue to inform the way retailers approach their fulfillment processes.
If you’ve recently launched a BOPIS operation or are looking for ways to optimize your program, request a demo with our team to learn more about how Bizrate Insights can help you uncover the customer insights you never knew you were missing.
The spread of COVID-19 and consequent stay-at-home orders led to abrupt shifts in consumer behavior. People stockpiled essential goods and bunkered down for the uncertainties of COVID-19. To protect the health and safety of their families, consumers were exploring new ways of shopping to meet their needs.
To help our audience stay aligned with these shifts, we surveyed online shoppers about their purchases. A few main takeaways from our March 2020 survey about changes in shopper behavior include:
- Shoppers were prioritizing essential purchases like food, medicine, and toiletries over nonessential items or entertainment purchases.
- 60% of respondents were looking for alternatives to in-store shopping.
To stay on top of trends, we surveyed shoppers again in April 2020. We learned that those explorative shoppers who had tried curbside options were likely to use the service again. In fact, between our March and April surveys, 86% of shoppers who had tried curbside once had tried it again. Likewise, we found out that some industries, like restaurants and pharmacies, were more popular among consumers when it came to curbside.
Using survey data collected from the beginning of the pandemic in March through mid-April, we revealed three ways coronavirus would change retail in the coming months.
- Ecommerce would grow but wouldn’t be a cure-all as we found that many online purchases were for essential goods and consumers were less likely to spend on additional goods.
- Consumer anxiety about the COVID-19 recession would limit spending as shoppers reported making fewer impulse purchases.
- Large retailers would thrive at the expense of small stores that couldn’t keep up with the shifts caused by the pandemic.
To follow up on our early-April assessment, we surveyed shoppers two weeks later to ask about their experiences with alternatives to in-store shopping. We had already noted from data collected in early-April, that consumers who had already tried curbside pickup were likely to continue using it. In particular, grocery stores were seeing success among consumers who were adhering to new social distancing protocols. Meanwhile, in-store pickup had fallen 4%.
Two months in, our data revealed how the pandemic had affected consumers. Here is what we found:
- Consumers were buying more online but spending less overall.
- More consumers were buying entertainment goods, with 16% of shoppers reporting they bought these items, up from 8% than in the first month of the pandemic.
- By May, customers were more satisfied with retailers’ response to COVID-19. In fact, 42% of shoppers felt like retailers adjusted to their needs.
In June 2020, as we kicked off the quarantine summer, Bizrate Insights began to survey shoppers on their plans for holiday spending. Many said they planned to spend less, and 50% of consumers said COVID-19 had changed their gift-giving plans. However, consumer anxiety waned throughout the summer. In a November Bizrate Insights survey, 56% of respondents reported they planned to spend the same in 2020 on holiday gifts as they had in 2019.
To prepare our readers for the back-to-school shopping season, we surveyed our network in August 2020. Our data revealed:
- A majority of shoppers (76%) said they might not buy anything for the school season.
- Deals and discounts would attract those who did plan on buying new items.
- Younger respondents planned to spend less and stay on budget.
Stay tuned for 2021 data
Our top content analyzed changes in consumer behavior at the beginning of the pandemic, continually reported on how COVID-19 would impact seasonal retail events, and through it all shared vital insights with readers.
As the industry waits to see which of these changes are permanent, we will continue to share our findings and develop ideas that ecommerce businesses can leverage for sustained growth. Since we know that in-store and curbside pickup will remain, get a head start on 2021 by downloading our latest guide, Data-Driven Tips for a Winning BOPIS Program. The guide uses online shopper data and feedback from verified customers to create tangible tips that any retailer with a BOPIS offering can use.