Research shows 92% plan to continue doing their shopping online for sheer convenience.
Consumer habits have shifted considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic, and new research suggests that ecommerce may remain the standard for the foreseeable future. In a new survey conducted by McKinsey, 92% of British consumers said they would continue their online shopping even when it was safe to return to in-person retail.
This isn’t true for all consumer goods, however. In a post-pandemic world, what are Brits still buying online? Consumer research proposes that these five categories of goods will be purchased online for a long time to come.
Clothing – but with caveats
According to McKinsey’s report, 77% of British consumers have done the majority of their clothes shopping online over the past year. Post-pandemic, 65% of those say that their online shopping for clothes will remain the same – or increase.
After staying at home for over a year, Brits are leaning towards comfortable, personalized clothing, with several leading brands even offering DIY tie-dye kits, according to research conducted by Facebook on 2021 trends and topics. However, the vast majority of these sales went to retailers who already had built strong digital online businesses.
“Even once lockdown measures are eased, the ease of e-commerce will keep many shoppers online, and out of stores,” said Chris Elliott, head of market insights at Edge by Ascential. “All of this means that Asos and Boohoo are in strong financial positions.”
Stores that had to shift rapidly to a more online presence, or shops like Primark who have refused to do any kind of online shop, have not secured their share of online shopping.
Eyeglasses take the spotlight
It’s no surprise that along with getting comfortable in tie-dye, consumers have been opting for more comfortable eyewear, too. As so many office-workers have switched to working from home, glasses are more convenient and comfortable with lots of options to buy those online. Research by Statista shows that 19% of Brits are wearing their glasses more, while 34% of Brits are wearing contacts less.
Many fashion bloggers indicate that newer glasses looks are out, and more vintage, timeless looks like large round glasses are in.
This research suggests that consumers opted for comfort, low-maintenance, “slow fashion” looks during the pandemic, and these preferences will be here to stay as long as they are satisfied by online retailers.
Self-care and beauty helps consumers treat themselves
Maybe because it’s been a tough year, the treat-yourself vibe is very powerful – and more than ever, self-care and beauty products like bath bombs, makeup kits, and skincare are being bought from the comfort of our own homes.
Euromonitor’s International Beauty Survey showed that 34% of consumers could be considered “digital shoppers,” which they define as having bought online and being influenced by online beauty influencers. Not only that, but 41% of consumers were interested in personalized hair care bought online.
“Even when consumers venture back into salons and spas, at-home self-care habits will persist as many seek lower cost, convenience options for indulgence,” writes Lisa Holmes in the report. Perhaps because consumers were worried about finances, many opted to go for more inexpensive DIY options rather than splurging on in-person treatments at salons.
By the looks of these reports, that trend promises to continue even when it’s safe to go back to our old normal.
Over-the-counter turned into over-the-couch
The McKinsey report suggests that British consumers are buying OTC (over the counter) medications and vitamins online and plan to continue doing so.
It’s likely this trend started because it was unsafe to visit doctor’s offices and pharmacies, any one of which could be frequented by someone sick with the coronavirus. Instead, consumers looked for online delivery options.
Now, nearly 2/3s (64%) of those who switched to buying vitamins and medications online say they plan to carry on doing so in the future.
Petcare and services can be purchased from home
Another surprising area where consumers have indicated a strong preference for online purchasing is in pet care and pet services.
The McKinsey report showed a sustained shift to online pet care thanks to and after COVID. Out of all consumer categories reviewed, pet care was the category that had the highest intent to continue purchase after COVID, ranking 54.
Compared with categories like tobacco (a score of 10) or alcoholic beverages (scoring -4) it seems clear that pet owners plan to continue receiving goods and services for their loved furry ones by ordering online, rather than venturing into pet stores.
A post-COVID world might not look so different
Although many UK shoppers plan to reunite with friends and family, go on holiday, and head to the pub when it’s safe to do so, many of their online shopping habits will remain the same – even when those same retail stores open again and are safe to visit.
By locking down and forcing British consumers to change their habits, retailers should watch out for their new online customers and be prepared to weather these trends well into the future.