COVID-19 Shopping and Delivery Trends: a diversified supply chain is key to survival and future growth

The world as we once knew it has transformed and consumers are experiencing rapid changes to the way they live, work and shop. To examine these changes, CommerceHub surveyed more than 1,500 consumers of various age groups to gauge consumer confidence and identify changing shopping patterns amid COVID-19 disruptions.

Insights included:

  • Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 43% of respondents preferred to shop online for essential items. Now however, 68% of consumers are likely to subscribe to a delivery service for groceries and other essential items following the crisis
  • 59% of respondents aged 70+ said they would still prefer to shop in-store once the crisis is over
  • 49% of respondents over the age of 50 who did not shop online said they’re likely to subscribe to a delivery service following the COVID-19 pandemic

Philip Hall, Managing Director Europe, CommerceHub, examines some of the top findings from the research and explains how a diversified supply chain will help retailers to survive the immediate crisis and to grow in a reshaped retail landscape.

Home delivery is the safest option during COVID-19

Ecommerce is being tested in ways we never imagined and retailers need to find ways to keep up with shifting demand and an accelerated boost in online sales. The reason for this is clear: 65% of survey respondents said delivery to home is the safest option for getting anything during this pandemic.

Consumers continue to shop online for essential items post COVID-19

The popularity of shopping for items online is nothing new, but in March 2020, online quickly became the only channel that many consumers could use to get the items they needed. Looking to the future, it seems that post COVID-19, the popularity of getting essential goods online is here to stay, as 43% of respondents said that they now prefer to shop online for essential items and 69% said they’d be more willing to subscribe to a delivery service for essential items following the pandemic. As we have seen retailers are now investing even more resources into intensifying and enlarging their digital assortment without eroding the profitability that can accompany such growth.

Prime subscribers still don’t trust that orders will be delivered on-time

Currently, Amazon has extended delivery dates on assortment they deem “non-essential.” The lengthened delivery window could reduce conversions among consumers, and may ultimately drive them to find the items they need from another retailer that can promise faster delivery. In fact, approximately 80% of Amazon Prime subscribers say that the expected delivery date has impacted their purchase decisions for essential items. Retailers that are able to understand where alternative sources of stock can be found and have systems that can dynamically estimate delivery dates accordingly have the advantage of being able to offer a better customer experience right now.

Out-of-stocks are still happening

As consumer demand for certain product categories has increased, for example, lawn and garden products, DIY home projects and outdoor recreation, retailers are being put to the test having to find new ways to quickly fill supply gaps by tapping into a broader and more diverse network than they are currently supporting. In fact, 75% of people said that they have searched for an item to purchase online, only to find that it was out of stock. Out-of-stocks stir agitation and cause stress for consumers, but this is something that retailers can avoid with the right approach. By using the extended inventory network of their trading partners, thus tapping into multiple sources of stock and crucially stock that is closest to the customer, sell-outs are minimised and customers satisfied.

Kerbside pickup is here to stay

Convenience plays an overwhelmingly large role in customer satisfaction, and now safety is something that consumers are taking seriously and is something retailers need to consider. 59% of consumers said they are more likely to use kerbside pickup following the COVID-19 crisis, signalling an adoption of social distancing that might become more prominent once the pandemic subsides. Providing more ways for contactless shopping gives physical stores the ability to provide what a customer needs quickly while reducing shipping costs and increasing brand loyalty.

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