eCommerce growth boom set to further accelerate as shoppers commit to remaining online
Online shopping has been crucial to many businesses throughout the pandemic as they fought to survive. Over the last several years, there has been a monumental shift towards online shopping, especially during the holiday season. Covid-19 exacerbated the level at which online shopping occurred over the last year due to social distancing and concerns about in-person shopping, but it seems that this trend is here to stay. To test this theory, here at Scurri, we commissioned a nationally representative survey on consumer shopping behaviors and sentiment in the UK both post Brexit and post pandemic.
The survey of over 2,000 UK adults, completed in March 2021, shows that rather than slowing down when lockdown restrictions lift, the eCommerce growth boom looks set to further accelerate as shoppers commit to remaining online post the re-opening of retail. The study also looked at the effect of Brexit on shopping habits and discovered strong consumer preference for buying British brands post Brexit, to help support the local economy.
Scurri’s research found that more than three in five (61%) people across the UK plan to continue to shop online in 2021 at the same rates as 2020, even when shops reopen for in-store shopping, further highlighting the continued growth of online shopping.
Almost half (48%) of all consumers aged 18-24 stated they would continue to shop online even when shops reopen, the highest among all age ranges in the UK, and one-quarter (24%) of full-time students are more likely to shop online than employed consumers, acknowledging that they shop online at least once every two to three weeks.
Online shopping habits and frequency varied by different demographics throughout the pandemic. 3 in 10 (30%) people in Wales shop online at least once a week, compared with only 18% of people in Northern Ireland. One-quarter (25%) of females admit to shopping online at least once a week. People in East England and South England shop more often than people in London, with 27% of people in the East shopping online at least once a week, 26% of people in the South shopping online at least once a week, and only 24% of people in London shopping online at least once a week.
Brexit is also set to have an impact on shopping habits in the UK. We have already seen shipping and delivery disruptions between the UK and the EU as the UK is no longer part of the EU eCommerce Directive as of January 1, 2021. There has been frustration from both retailers and consumers regarding the issues cropping up, and almost half (43%) of all respondents feel that they have not been properly informed by retailers and websites about the changes to service faced due to Brexit.
Over half (52%) of respondents in Scotland believe that it is the responsibility of the government, not the websites and retailers, to inform consumers of changes to the online shopping experience now that Brexit is in effect. On the other hand, almost one-quarter (23%) of respondents in Wales are unsure who should have this responsibility; government or retailers. Again, this shows the disconnect between consumers and retailers as Brexit continues to play a role in the online shopping experience for so many consumers.
With existing logistics issues due to Brexit, there is a concern over whether or not the UK will still see the same number of international products available to them. Many retailers may find the process of importing and exporting with the UK to be overwhelming, and there is a chance that these services will cease to exist. One-quarter of respondents (24%) believe that there will be no change in the amount of international products available in the UK in shops and online, while over one-quarter (26%) of respondents in Scotland believe there will be a large decrease in the availability of international products.
In an effort to continue to support the local economy, the survey also showed that there is overall strong support to buy British more frequently moving forward. Over half (55%) of all respondents agreed that they would try to buy from British brands more often, while only two in five (39%) of respondents in Northern Ireland agreed with this.
There is a positive outlook amongst consumers in the UK that life will return to normal at some stage. Two-thirds of respondents (66%) believe there will be a complete return to normality, but not in 2021. However, even when things do return to normal, online shopping will have cemented its place as the main revenue stream for many businesses, as consumers have experienced the ease and convenience that comes with shopping from the comfort of their homes.
Fergal O’Carroll is the chief revenue officer at delivery management company, Scurri, with responsibility for sales strategy and execution.
His prior roles include EMEA vice-president for commercial sales with Teradata for eight years; prior to that, he was managing director of business intelligence solutions with Avnet Client Solutions for 13 years.
Fergal holds a BA in Business Studies from the University of West London and is a native of Dublin, Ireland.