E-commerce sales may be slowing, but they are not going away. In fact, despite all the doom-and-gloom headlines of late, eMarketer estimates that worldwide e-commerce sales in 2022 will exceed $5 trillion for the first time, accounting for more than one-fifth of overall retail sales.
A new survey released by BigCommerce (NASDAQ: BIGC) has found that 55% of consumers shop online at least once a week, with fashion and apparel their most likely purchases. The survey also found that consumers want personalized shopping experiences and tailored advertising and are willing to share their email, gender and name with brands to get that experience.
The survey, Global Consumer Report: Current and Future Shopping Trends, was released Monday. Written by Shelley Kilpatrick, the survey collected responses from 4,222 people in five countries (the U.S., U.K., Italy, France and Australia) on a series of questions about their current shopping habits as well as their understanding and willingness on future shopping trends. The survey was conducted by ProfitWell in March and co-branded with Google.
The survey found 10% of consumers shop online between four and six times a week while 21% shop once a month or less.
“Once they find a product that interests them, consumers quickly move on to the next step. For example, Google feed consumer insights research from Google and Ipsos revealed that 91% of Google feed users performed some kind of action immediately after discovering new products, services or brands, which included going to a brand’s website to learn more or buying directly from an offer,” Kilpatrick wrote.
Eighty percent of consumers are buying fashion online with electronics a distant second at 56%. Entertainment and media (55%), personal care products (47%), groceries (45%) and home and home improvement (44%) followed.
Incentives to buy
While shoppers still look for quality items, other factors are now influencing their online buying decisions. The survey found, though, that consumers seem to be more interested in free shipping above all else.
“However, sales and clearance items, as well as discount codes are also effective — particularly for consumers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia,” Kilpatrick wrote. “While consumers in France and Italy have a strong preference for free shipping, their preference for discount codes is more muted than the other regions surveyed. Additionally, consumers in Italy actually prefer free returns over discount codes.”
Clothing is the most returned e-commerce purchase, yet “try before you buy” was the least important option offered, BigCommerce found. It noted that brands should not dismiss it, though, as Amazon has now launched the option for many of its fashion items and as the biggest e-commerce retailer, Amazon’s initiatives commonly grow in popularity across other platforms.
A previous BigCommerce and PayPal report on consumer spending found that shoppers were more likely to spend more at a retailer that offered their preferred payment method. The latest report confirmed the previous polling.
The fastest growing payment method globally is buy now, pay later (BNPL), with 2.9% of global e-commerce transactions using this method in 2021. Worldpay’s The Global Payment Report said BNPL will reach 5.3% market share by 2025. Sixteen percent of respondents to BigCommerce’s survey had used this payment method. In the U.S., that number is 36% as consumers find it convenient, with 51% saying they were more likely to complete a purchase if it was an option.
Interestingly, while many assume BNPL offerings are designed to assist those with limited incomes to purchase items, the BigCommerce survey actually found that not to be true. Ninety percent of people with incomes over $100,000 said they preferred the convenience (47%) or found BNPL made it easier (43%) to make purchases. Of those making less than $25,000, just 28% said they like the convenience and 57% said it made it easier.
Make it personal
As research shows, personalization drives loyalty. For instance, a study from Google and Storyline Strategies found that 72% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand if [it offered] a personalized experience with additional rewards and benefits,” Kilpatrick wrote. “And it’s not just the onsite experience. This also applies to advertising. Another study, ‘Google Feed Consumer Insights,’ from Google and Ipsos, found that 67% of Google feed users have bought or planned to buy something after seeing a personalized ad on their feed.”
Consumers are also willing to hand over the information necessary to facilitate personalized experiences, something that is growing in importance as search engines begin to eliminate tracking cookies from their platforms. Only 28% of respondents were not willing to share personal information such as name, email or gender.
For 37% of respondents, their willingness depended on what information the brand was asking for and another 30% said it was dependent on the brand. Thirty-one percent said they were willing to pass along information for personalized shopping or advertising experiences.
Consumers are interested in supporting brands that value trust and loyalty, and that extends to sustainability. In the BigCommerce survey, 32% of respondents rated sustainability as very important and 52% said it was somewhat important in the purchasing decision.
The younger the shopper, the more likely sustainability factored into the buying decision, with 41% of Gen Z shoppers saying it was very important and another 51% saying it was somewhat important, compared to 24% and 49%, respectively, of baby boomers.
“More than ever before, today’s brands must put consumers at the heart of everything they do,” Kilpatrick wrote in the conclusion to the report. “From offering the right incentives and payment options to personalizing the shopping experience, brands need to cater to specific consumer preferences if they want to influence shoppers’ purchasing decisions.
“However, to establish loyalty, it’s not enough to simply provide a great online shopping experience,” she added. “Brands should build relationships with consumers based on honesty and transparency in everything they do, particularly when it comes to how they treat their employees. Moreover, consumers increasingly prefer to shop with brands that prioritize sustainability, with younger generations even willing to pay more for sustainable products.”