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Shopper Experience

The New World of COVID Commerce: Effects Of COVID-19 On Online Shopping

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, retailers need to know the latest information in order to adjust their eCommerce operations. For example, how are online shopping behaviors changing, and what do shoppers need from online brands during these times? This week, Retail Systems Research (RSR) published a survey of 1,200 shoppers on how COVID-19 will affect their online shopping behaviors.

Upfront, RSR asked shoppers how the Coronavirus outbreak would affect how often they would be shopping online. 60% responded they’d be doing more of it. These results support what Yottaa is already seeing from monitoring our client base of over 1,500 eCommerce sites. Brands are experiencing holiday-levels of traffic, some with spikes hitting over 600%.

The results of this survey provide some clarity during such uncertain times, and support that increased online shopping is an opportunity for retail brands to maintain revenue while helping consumers through COVID-19.

Download the full survey report

Shopping online is a necessity

This survey revealed that 90% of shoppers are hesitant to shop in-store due to Coronavirus, the majority only heading into stores when “absolutely necessary”. This is devastating for brands that sell solely or the majority of products in their physical stores unless they adapt quickly. But retailers that already sell online have an opportunity in this new reality — especially if they can offer fast or even free shipping.

Survey respondents were also asked how important online shopping will be for them in the coming months. The answer? Critical.

94% stated online shopping will be an important activity during the current crisis, while 45% claimed it as a necessity to live their daily lives. For any high-risk, quarantined, or understandably scared shoppers, online is their only choice for getting necessary supplies. But there is also something to be said about people using online shopping as a pastime, a way to focus on the future, or even as a form of therapy. While physically trying to avoid the spread of COVID-19, people need to also take good care of their mental health during these stressful times.

Retailers to the rescue: Amazon’s weaknesses are officially exposed

In the 2020 eCommerce Leaders Survey, we asked 121 eCommerce leaders from major brands how they were competing with Amazon. Although many had some great tactics, 71% of respondents stated they do NOT currently provide free, same-day shipping to customers. That survey was conducted back in December 2019, before COVID-19 struck US soil.

In this recent survey, RSR asked shoppers who they think would be more likely to get their online products delivered on time, Amazon or other retailers? The results were interesting:

Only 42% of shoppers chose Amazon, even though fast shipping is its major differentiator from other retailers. The current situation is clearly weakening Amazon’s armour. Shoppers are just not convinced that they will get their Amazon packages on time. This could be because Amazon has dwindling stock of certain products, delivery is taking longer, and according to headlines, their ramp-up on warehouse hiring is being met with a massive spread of COVID-19.

These are controversial times for Amazon, and the online giant is coming under public scrutiny for how the company is treating their employees during this pandemic. It makes sense why RSR is seeing 34% of respondents saying they would rather support other retailers at this time, as they provide a better experience than Amazon.

This is brand loyalty at its best, and the trust retailers have been building with shoppers will really start to come to fruition.

What shoppers need from online brands

RSR also asked shoppers what could make online shopping most difficult for them during COVID-19. Here are the results:

Shoppers are clearly nervous about supply, because there is a LOT of demand for certain products. As a retailer, make sure shoppers don’t have to deal with this issue from your brand. If you are running low on inventory, pull stock from your physical stores to sell, as those are closed for the time being.

Remember that “71% of brands stated they do NOT currently provide free, same-day shipping to customers” from earlier in this article? That stat was gathered before this global pandemic began, and it is one area where retailers can improve. Shoppers are saying they need free shipping to make their online purchasing easier for them at this time. Providing that will help win their trust and recurring business.

At 38%, shoppers are concerned that slow eCommerce sites could make purchasing items online more difficult. With online shopping as the only option, make sure you provide shoppers with the best online experience possible. This includes site speed, page load consistency, and great 3rd party technologies to help ease shoppers through checkout.

Brands, take action

Now is the time for brands to focus more on the digital experience they are providing shoppers.  These survey results can help you connect with them on an individual and personalized level to maintain and build shopper relationships. Never has there been a more important situation to listen to your audience and deliver on their needs.

For more of what shoppers had to say during this survey, download the full report.

Are you offering the best online experience possible for your shoppers? Find out with a free eCommerce site performance evaluation.