The way people shop online is changing

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While it’s no secret that COVID had a major impact on consumer shopping habits, a new study from Nielsen highlights just how dramatic the shift was. The number of shoppers who consider themselves either exclusive or heavy online shoppers shot up by 133% from September 2019 to September 2020.

The data also shows that along with more people choosing to shop online exclusively, the way in which they shop is now more closely mirroring in-store behavior.


Online shoppers became more invested than their brick-and-mortar counterparts in searching for the best product to fit new needs and, as a result, increased planning efforts for online grocery purchases into the new normal.

(Source – Nielsen)

Rewind a few years ago and the general thinking was that people shopping in-store tended to be a lot more critical of their purchase decisions. Just think about yourself, when you’re in a store you probably find yourself physically picking up a product, if it’s clothes trying them on, if it’s food, physically inspecting it.

The idea that online consumers make quicker decisions or do less research seems to be going the way of the dodo as consumers now expect to be able to do a similar level of product research online as they used to do in physical stores.

For apparel brands and retailers this presents a unique challenge since shoppers who once relied on physically touching or trying on the clothes to make a purchase decision are now increasing their expectations when it comes to their online shopping experience.

In a new Connected Retail Report from CI&T they highlighted an important point that more and more retailers have struggled with as more shoppers move online. While consumer expectations have gone up dramatically they still expect retailers to teach them how to leverage new services and solutions being offered on their sites:

From a consumer insights perspective, retail tends to be a reactive space. Shoppers don’t shop differently until a retailer makes a change that works for them and teaches them to expect that from other retailers. Until Amazon Prime taught us that delivery should be a two-day timeline, successful delivery just meant it arrived by the time you needed it.

Source – CI&T Connected Retail Report

Today more than ever the adage, “innovate or die” rings more true than ever before. We left 2020 with some clear winners, brands like Lululemon and retailers like Home Depot doubled-down on innovation and won the day and over the next few months we will begin to see who takes the lead in 2021. As we move into 2021 it’s clear that what we thought might be a temporary shift is becoming something much more permanent.

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