Online Shopping: Evolving Consumer Behavior Amid the Pandemic
The pandemic has reshaped the way businesses function and for the country's e-commerce industry, the crisis has presented a plethora of opportunities to evolve and thrive.
As economies across the world gradually reopen, life is slowly inching back to normal after a series of lockdowns and over six months of pandemic-induced mayhem. However, the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has provoked on both businesses and humanity is large-scale in an unprecedented way. India has been among the worst-hit countries with the number of cases soaring each day. While businesses have borne the brunt of the crisis, they have also evolved to a great extent. The pandemic has reshaped the way businesses function and for the country’s e-commerce industry, the crisis has presented a plethora of opportunities to evolve and thrive.
One of the key elements powering this evolution of the highly lucrative e-commerce industry is changing consumer behavior. Online shopping has gained immense traction and transformed drastically in recent times. A report by Bain and Flipkart estimates that by 2025, there will be over 350 million online shoppers in the country, and consumer behavior in this segment has been evolving continuously. Here are some areas where consumer behavior in online shopping has evolved due to the pandemic.
Locally sourced products top the charts
Up until recently, a vast majority of people opted for imported goods from various countries. However, the pandemic has not only disrupted supply chains, making it nearly impossible for goods to be transported long distances due to movement restrictions but has also shed light on the staggering amount of dependence that India has on China and other countries. The ‘Vocal for Local’ movement has steadily been gaining popularity as people gravitate more towards home-grown brands and support small businesses and locally sourced products. This not only hands over the reins to local e-commerce sellers and third-party aggregators who can capitalize on the demand but is also a major step in building a self-reliant India. Opting for locally made products is one of the biggest shifts in consumer behavior.
Health and hygiene take precedence
After six months of complete lockdown, it is a no-brainer that safety, health, and hygiene have hopped to the top of the priority list for both businesses and individuals. In the online shopping segment, too, there is a notable shift in consumer behavior as consumers have moved from aggressively shopping for fashion apparel to products for better health and hygiene. Post the Unlock Phase-I, the demand for the health and beauty segment surged to 32 per cent, underscoring the changing consumer behavior where products in the health well-being department are given priority as compared to other products.
Online shopping and hyperlocal deliveries are the way forward
In today’s fast-changing world, where Internet and technology are omnipresent, people prefer quick doorstep services—and this applies to shopping too. Although the pandemic has given a boost to online shopping, the transition hasn’t been out of the blue. Online shopping has become increasingly popular and players in the e-commerce industry such as aggregators and sellers are now looking to create a seamless post-order experience for customers. This is where hyperlocal deliveries come into the scene. Since hyperlocal deliveries cater to a smaller geographical area, brands can fulfill same-day and next day deliveries, thus ensuring immaculate customer experience and boosting customer satisfaction, retention and acquisition.
Social media: The shopper’s stop
The advent of social media has truly been a revolution of sorts in a world driven by technology where everything is accessible at the click of a button. The pandemic has resulted in people spending more time indoors browsing through their social media newsfeeds, purchasing, and reviewing products. To keep customers engaged, brands have now shifted to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter by integrating their websites with these social media networks to interact with customers and build their brands. Social media and online shopping through social media are trending and this trend is likely to remain the same even in the distant future.
Consumer behavior in online shopping is evolving rapidly and businesses are coming up with innovative solutions to cater to consumers’ demands. Digitizing the business is one of the first steps that companies can take to create a wider reach, and aggregators are doing just that to enable small-time sellers to take their businesses online. While it is not easy to say if the current trends will remain, one thing is for certain – the pandemic has transformed the online shopping segment and consumer behavior will continue to evolve in the future.
Saahil Goel is the CEO and co-founder of ShipRocket (BigFoot Retail Solutions Pvt. Ltd.)