New Research Reveals New ‘Post-Pandemic Shopper’

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly raised consumer expectations of online shopping, according to consumer research commissioned by Emarsys, which surveyed over 1,000 Australian consumers.

More than one in five Aussie shoppers say the COVID-19 pandemic has made them care more about good customer service online. Around 28 percent of consumers also claim to be more loyal to brands they have had good experiences with online. On the flip side, more than half of shoppers are turned off by a brand because of a poor customer service experience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the retail landscape. As in-store sales slump, data from Covid Commerce Insight shows that online retail in Australia grew from around 20 percent year-on-year growth in January to reach an average of 97% percent in September.

“Since consumers have been cooped up at home over the past few months making more purchases than ever online, expectations around online customer service have naturally heightened. As the research shows, if retailers are unable to provide an outstanding experience throughout the entire customer journey from browsing to post-purchase, then consumers are more than willing to switch to a competitor," said Adam Ioakim, Managing Director, APAC at Emarsys.

Key highlights from the research include:

  • While being more cautious with their purchase decisions, consumers are spending more and shopping more often online:
    • 42 percent of consumers spend longer considering their purchases since lockdown.
    • 29 percent of shoppers said they had spent more in general online since the start of the pandemic and with more regularity.
  • Consumers are willing to stay loyal to a brand, with the right offer:
    • More than half of consumers said they are looking for more loyalty program benefits, and around one quarter expect a more personalised online experience.
    • Around 27 percent are also looking for innovative technologies such as virtual try-on options and AR change rooms, as well as more interactivity.
  • Cost is still the biggest influence on consumer purchasing decisions:
    • More than three quarters of shoppers indicated that the cost of the item is the biggest factor impacting their choice of one retailer over another.
  • The delivery experience is an increasingly essential part of the online customer experience journey:
    • Free delivery and return (64%) is the top rated motivation for shopping online, closely followed in third spot was speed of delivery (42%), while ease of check out (30%) reached fourth place.
    • Having to pay for delivery is the biggest turn off for online shoppers, with 56 percent saying they would go elsewhere if they had to pay for returns.

According to Ioakim, the research reinforces what we’ve known for a long time — that offering a seamless and personalised online customer experience is the best way to build customer loyalty.

“While price is still a major purchasing influence, nothing compares to a loyalty program in attracting and retaining customers. Loyalty programs enable retailers to identify who their customer is, what they’re buying and how often and then use this information to engage with consumers in a highly personalised way,” said Ioakim.