Almost every industry is facing the call for change in some way, shape or form. Whether this is to keep up with changing times or to reinvent the way things are done, industries must adapt, evolve, and innovate. Something that is no stranger to change is shopping habits. In 2017, the Office for National Statistics reported that consumers spent around £366 billion.
The shift in consumer behaviour has had a notable effect on retail in particular — ranging from technological advances to consumer expectation. In this article, we’ll look at the different shopping habits consumers have experienced over the years.
The Dot Com Explosion
The UK has the third largest ecommerce market in the world, and at the end of 2019, statistics show that roughly 19 cent of retail transactions were conducted online. But it wasn’t always like this.
A decade ago, the high street was still the primary retail destination for shoppers in the UK. Back to a simpler time when Donald Trump was just another celebrity with a questionable tan and people did their dating face-to-face rather than on Tinder, in 2006, a mere 2.8 per cent of sales occurred online. The internet has opened a whole new avenue of shopping experiences, changing our high streets forever. Even food shopping is done online — online grocery shopping is one of the fastest growing retail channels. The UK is forecasted to be the world’s second largest online grocery market in 2020, following China.
With the potential to make new purchases in just a few clicks, online shopping boasts a sense of convenience that can often be lacking in offline retail.
Royal Mail conducted research into our online shopping habits, finding that most of the online shopping was done on smartphones throughout the day, with purchases made on laptops increasing in the evening. The study also found that 22 per cent of consumers are likely to purchase something after seeing it on social media, particularly with young shoppers and women.
As well as being an efficient, on-the go option, online shopping also has a few advantages over physical stores — with a plethora of delivery options available, as well as try-before-you-buy schemes and the ever-popular discount codes. That skirt that you wanted but it’s out of stock at all of your nearest stores? Order it online and receive it within a day of entering your card details or try it before you pay for it with the flexible options now widely available. Most mens suits come in a range of styles and fits, and nowadays you can view every option through a handy augmented reality tool before you choose the perfect new office addition.
Our shopping habits are also slowly starting to incorporate wider societal narratives, with the environment and climate change becoming a key focus for brands. A report by Critero found that the psychological motivation behind shopping is based around the premise of ‘green’ consumerism. The sustainable food and drink market grew around 9.7 per cent, being one of the fastest growing sectors of UK retail.
Consumers are hot on the heels of brands who make a conscious effort to lower their carbon footprints, lessening their contribution to the prolonged damage inflicted on the natural world by human activities. For example, a recent article by The Guardian reported that Coca-Cola is the world’s largest plastics polluter for the second year in a row. Around half of UK shoppers are inclined to make informed decisions and purchase from brands who are transparent about their processes and openly publish their ethical contributions. From Gregg’s vegan sausage roll to Topshop’s vegan shoe line, shopping habits are shifting towards ethical consciousness.
Consumers have a shockingly low perception of brand loyalty, and corporate transparency has emerged as a counteraction to resolve this. With information and reviews available online combined with the ability to compare prices, customers are better equipped to switch between brands quickly and smartly.
However, the top reason for brand switching isn’t personal to the brand themselves, as most [eople simply want to switch things up a bit — 62 per cent switched in the last year simply because another brand interested them. Consumers are more curious and are willing to try new things — why would you stick with one brand when you can try them all?
Everyone in the house asleep? Great, get the laptop on and find the perfect outfit for your weekend brunch date. While it’s beyond us why anyone would be doing anything but catching up on those important zzzs between these hours, data from John Lewis found that one in 15 online transactions are made between the hours of midnight and 6am. Although this might not sound like an awful lot, it’s an increase of 23 per cent from 2018. With the next day delivery policy, you could order a
Men are less likely to make impulse purchases in the ungodly hours of the night than women. And it’s hardly surprising, with there being no closing times on ecommerce and millions of websites to browse.
Shopping habits have embraced the nuance of the digital age, but what could be next? It’s hard to imagine how we’ll be shopping in the next 50 years, and what advancements could be yet to come.