More than half of consumers now prefer shopping online

As businesses around the world consider how to navigate the post-COVID-19 environment, NielsenIQ says it will be paramount for brands and retailers to consider how to adapt their digitalization strategies to better serve shopping online.

With brick-and-mortar stores shutting overnight, shoppers flocked to the internet to buy their items. Over the past year, there has been a transformation in the way shoppers interact with the products they love, shop for, and how they conduct many of the routine transactions of life.

The migration to digital technologies has accelerated at a phenomenal scale and speed as a result. In fact, research from IBM’s US Retail Index suggests that the pandemic accelerated the shift to online shopping by as much as five years. 

“With a 27% increase in online shoppers due to the pandemic, it is clear that shopper behaviour and demand patterns have changed,” Nielsen IQ noted.

As consumers become more and more accustomed to shopping online, 54% of global shoppers now prefer online window shopping to browsing in stores, according to a study conducted by Bazaarvoice on more than 9000 shoppers worldwide. These findings show that shoppers not only enjoy browsing for items online, but also find it less of a hassle.

“With the rise of online shopping and browsing, it has never been more important for brands and retailers to adapt by quickly rethinking the shopper journey and accelerating the development of digital solutions,” Nielsen said. “This includes creating a seamless e-commerce experience by enabling shoppers to complete everything they need to do online, from initial research and purchase to service and returns.” 

Australian liquor online shopping boom

Over the full year of 2020 nearly six million Australians bought packaged alcohol in an average seven days whether in store, online, over the phone or some other way.

According to data from Roy Morgan, over one-in-10 of these Australian packaged alcohol buyers (11.3%) bought alcohol online, more than tripling the figure of 3.5% for 2019 – an increase of almost 8% points.

“Although liquor stores were able to stay open throughout the lockdowns there was a definite impact on how Australians bought their packaged alcohol in 2020 compared to 2019,” Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said. “To be sure, most Australians who bought packaged alcohol in 2020 (88.6%) bought alcohol from a store, but this was down almost 6% points from 2019.

“Taking up the slack was the fast-increasing proportion of Australian packaged alcohol buyers going online for their liquor purchases, up nearly 8% points to 11.3% for the year. It’s true the proportion buying online peaked at 15.4% in the September quarter 2020, but even during the relatively restriction-free December quarter 2020 a sizeable 12% were still buying online – up nearly 10% points on 2019.

“Perhaps surprisingly those packaged alcohol buyers aged 35-49 (13.2%) are the most likely to have bought alcohol online during 2020, just ahead of their younger peers aged 25-34 (12.8%) and 18-24 (12.5%). People in capital cities (12.8%) were more likely than those in country areas (8.3%) to buy packaged alcohol online but there was negligible difference between men (11.8%) and women (10.5%).”

Endeavour Group CEO and MD Steve Donohue told its first Supplier Forum as a stand-alone business earlier this month that liquor retail has “changed irrevocably”. 

“We are expecting the biggest digital Christmas on record,” he said.

However, Donohue admitted during an analyts’ briefing this week that cost effectiveness in online was still an issue.

“It is true that it continues to be at a lesser overall profit margin than the traditional come in and pick it off the shelf,” he said.

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