Online shopping has surged since the Covid pandemic first hit Australian shores in 2020. When Pureprofile and IAB carried out a national survey of online shopping behaviour in the past 12 months, the report found that most shoppers weren’t new to purchasing goods online, but their usage of it had significantly increased.
By Pureprofile CEO Martin Filz.
Many of the consumer shifts seen during the pandemic are here to stay, even as we emerge from lockdowns. 84% of those who increased online shopping due to Covid in 2020 have either purchased online at the same levels or more often in 2021. Only 36% of those surveyed plan to return to physical shopping. Even consumers who enjoy the in-person experience are likely to remain online shoppers for some categories.
The blind spot for retailers in a digital world
Thanks to the online migration of consumers, the competitor landscape has become increasingly opaque. Bricks-and-mortar retailers can no longer check prices and sales across the street, or count footfall in retail districts. Casual in-person interaction and chance feedback from customers is also off the table as most people continue to order online – especially around major holidays and events.
Retailers thrive on data. While data about their existing customers can provide a rich vein of demographic behaviour and browsing/purchasing patterns, there is a massive blind spot for retailers looking to expand. It’s hard to know what products and services to adapt and add, or what sales tactics and marketing campaigns would attract new customer segments if you can’t see them.
Advances in ResTech are helping provide retailers with a clearer view into consumer behaviour. By accessing large, representative panels, marketers can figure out whom they’re not reaching, and why. Panels can be used to build in-depth profiles of consumers and give businesses the ability to understand, target, and ultimately engage with their audiences.
A critical factor for staying ahead of competitors is being able to get answers quickly and easily, in a cost-effective manner. Having pre-existing panels enables that, versus creating a survey and waiting weeks for responses. Retailers need continuous, even real-time data in a volatile economy.
Pureprofile recently carried out research into what Australians had plan to buy in the lead up to Christmas. A representative sample of over 1000 panel members were surveyed to identify what people wanted, what they planned to buy, and how much they planned to spend. 43% of Australians were hoping to receive gift cards for Christmas with 23% looking forward to a tech-based present. Almost half (46%) of all Australians were purchasing their gifts online and most (69%) were doing so, well in advance of December.
With this kind of research available to brands, they are able to not only enhance retail product and promotional offerings but also increase customer loyalty and satisfaction with improved e-commerce services.
Another way that retailers can fill in the gaps is to derive competitor intelligence from other sources, such as transactional data. There are Restech solutions available to give retailers access to first-party data, allowing them to understand their position in comparison to identified competitors.
Retailers can then utilise demographic and geographical data to identify consumer and market trends quicker than ever before. Within seconds, a report could be generated that geographically breaks down sales from the launch day of a Christmas promotion and compares it to competitor sales. This insight can then be used as a basis of a variety of decisions, such as the immediate increase of social media advertising budget in regions where a competitor’s products are leading in sales. With the digital migration to online shopping here to stay, e-commerce strategies are more important than ever. Even when customers return to physical stores, they won’t be doing so in the same number or in the same way. The ability to work with customers toward something better is at the heart of every retailer’s future. And to do that requires good data: information that’s immediate, accurate and relevant.