COVID shapes Aussie shopping habits: study

·3-min read

COVID-19 is changing Australia's shopping behaviour. Not only are more people opting to purchase online, they want inspiration from social media, quicker deliveries and more innovative technology to place orders.

Aussie shoppers are also OK with "the power of personalisation", according to research presented by international marketing communications agency Wunderman Thompson Commerce.

For the uninitiated, that involves online retailers proactively sending customers samples based on their purchasing history and preferences.

More than 2000 Australians who buy online at least once a month participated in the Future Shopper 2021 survey, part of a wider pandemic research project conducted among 28,000 consumers in 17 countries.

About 72 per cent of the Australian respondents said COVID-19 had changed their purchasing behaviours and they would retain some or all of the behaviours.

Sixty per cent said they believed online shopping would prove more important in 2021.

That belief is borne out by new figures from Australia Post, which says online shopping rates have jumped in recent weeks as much of the country has experienced lockdowns.

Almost four million households have bought something online in the last fortnight, up six per cent on the same time last year.

NSW, the site of the most severe COVID-19 restrictions, has accounted for more than a third (35.1 per cent) of all online purchases.

The advent of a lockdown leads to an almost doubling of online purchase growth, Australia Post General Manager Ben Franzi said.

Fashion and apparel, home and garden, and variety stores are the most popular retailers for locked down Aussies.

The Wunderman Thompson report shows consumers crying out to get their hands on their purchases more quickly, with one-in-two wishing more brands and retailers offered next-day delivery.

More than 70 per cent suggested they are happy to receive personalised samples.

Half said they were more comfortable using digital technology than they were pre-COVID, while 51 per cent would like brands to be more innovative in using technology to improve their experience.

Wunderman Thompson strategy chief Angela Morris said the report showed expectations were rising fast as consumer familiarity and confidence with digital technology increased.

"In particular Australians want more accurate descriptions, frictionless experiences and faster delivery," she said.

"Alarmingly, over a third of online shoppers feel that they are more digitally advanced than many of the retailers and commerce services they use.

"That should be a wake-up call for brands to be very aware of evolving online shopping expectations and the need to constantly adapt to meet and exceed them."

For ideas on what to buy, Australians are most likely to turn to search engines (43 per cent), social media (36 per cent), marketplaces (25 per cent), retailer sites (23 per cent), brand sites (22 per cent) and in store (21 per cent).

Some 45 per cent of those surveyed said they intended to shop more through social media platforms.

Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of shoppers said they wanted retailers and brands to offer less packaging, a reduced carbon footprint and eco-delivery vehicles.

A significantly lower number of Australians surveyed (22 per cent) said they were frightened about shopping in store in the wake of COVID-19, compared to participants from other countries (41 per cent).

Ms Morris noted offline shopping was far from dead.

"Not only are most Australians unafraid to go into stores ... two-thirds prefer to shop with a brand that has both a physical store and an online store," she said.

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