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Ecommerce: Consumer Shift to Online Retail Is Not Just A Passing Trend

2020 has been a difficult year for retailers, especially for those with a limited online presence. The entire industry braced for impact when the shutters came down across the world in spring due to the global pandemic. Unsurprisingly, online retail has thrived in this environment, and it has become clear that this will continue as more and more consumers adopt digital shopping trends. In fact, research carried out by Luminati Networks has found 61% of consumers are planning to continue shopping online well after the pandemic ends.

Online retail isn’t a new frontier for millennials and Generation Z. These and future generations that are born into a digital era will be more than familiar with online marketplaces. However, thanks to restrictions on visiting brick-and-mortar stores, the unique circumstances presented to both retailers and consumers in 2020 has changed the landscape and opened new online markets.

Most notably, the research found an increase in consumers aged 65+ who do the majority of their shopping online, jumping from 15% a year ago to 39% today. A majority cited increased convenience as a leading factor in their shift online, with 69% including this in their top three reasons. Older customers historically have been reluctant to shop online. This shift in attitude highlights the changing retail landscape. This is encouraging news for retailers, but presents them with a new challenge to attract customers this Christmas and beyond.

Retailers must adapt and respond to consumers who are increasingly savvy when shopping online. Gone are the days when it took a long time to compare products and prices. There are now entire platforms that do the hard work for consumers and present them with the most attractive offers. Consumers are using these tools. The research found more than half of shoppers (55%) use comparison sites to find the most attractive deal.

How do online retailers compete in this new landscape?

From groceries to flights, winning the business of savvy consumers is key to success. Businesses must have a clear view in real-time of every move their competitors make. You need to be aware and respond quickly if a competitor selling a similar product drops their price by a couple of dollars to attract consumers who are using price comparison tools. Large retailers, travel providers, and many more sophistication online businesses have perfected this ability, thanks to large-scale online data collection. By regularly collecting online data providers have ‘near live’ view of the market and can adapt accordingly. 

This process isn’t limited to large businesses. Some small and medium sized businesses that will be dipping their toes into ecommerce for the first time need to be competitive in their domain. It is time for all retailers to future-proof processes and embrace the digital world now that consumers of all ages are showing a preference for online shopping. There can be no doubt that 2020 has caused the retail landscape to change, but this has presented a golden opportunity to retailers. To take this opportunity retailers must be guided by online data and the insights it provides. Data is being created by every action taken online. The faster retailers can collect, adapt, and respond to the latest trends, the more successful they will be.