Earlier this year, Ipsos Australia reported that environmental issues now rank as the number one concern for Australians—particularly those in millennial and generation Z age groups. Today, it seems this concern is increasingly influencing Aussie purchasing decisions.
New research from GetApp reveals 47% of online shoppers are happy to wait longer for their eCommerce deliveries so long as their orders are sourced and delivered sustainably.
To help brands understand the other key trends influencing online shopper behaviour, GetApp surveyed 1,000 Australian consumers. The survey explores the key issues driving brand preference and sales since the onset of COVID-19. The full survey methodology is available at the bottom of this article.
Fashion apparels and accessories are the biggest drivers of online sales
To optimise their eCommerce platforms, it is critical brands understand which products and services are most attractive to online shoppers.
The least popular choice for online shopping were rentals and consignments.
While it is important to know what shoppers choose to buy online, it is also key to have a sense of how they prefer to place orders and make payments. It can enable retailers to proactively reach out to their potential and existing customers at their preferred shopping destinations in a way that resonates personally.
Shoppers prefer eCommerce to avoid in-store crowds
COVID-19 is having an impact on how Australians approach their Christmas shopping this year. 41% of shoppers surveyed estimate they will use online stores more and in-store less to do their seasonal shopping.
A new period of normalised social distancing appears to have influenced this decision, with nearly half (48%) citing a desire to avoid large in-store crowds. Convenience was another key motive, with Aussie consumers wanting to reduce time spent driving, as well as the time and stress associated with in-store shopping.
COVID-19 may have been a major factor in moving shoppers to online channels, however, the data suggests most will continue to shop online even after the pandemic is over (49%.)
When it comes to preferred shopping destinations, Aussies showed greater affinity toward established online marketplaces, like eBay or Etsy. Their favoured online shopping platforms are as follows:
- Established online marketplaces (31%)
- Retailer/brand websites (23%)
- Amazon (18%)
- Independent online stores (17%)
- Social media platforms (10%)
- Niche commerce apps (2%)
Interestingly, Aussie shoppers’ commitment to their favourite shopping sites through subscription services is not all that strong—even though they might represent a better deal. When asked if respondents were likely to take up a subscription service in the next six months, 42% were unlikely to do so. Only 22% thought it was likely they would purchase a subscription in this timeframe.
A side effect of increased shopping online is a rise in purchases from new stores. The research shows that 62% of Aussie shoppers have bought from new online outlets since the start of the COVID crisis. The majority discovered these via search engines (44%), followed by social media platforms (28%), and web advertising (23%.)
High delivery costs in Australia is a particular pain point
While shopping online is increasingly popular with Australian consumers since COVID-19, it is not without its challenges, with the high cost of delivery a particular pain point.
Studies show Australia has some of the highest delivery fees in the world due to expensive logistics services across the country. And GetApp’s survey suggests these high delivery costs have an impact on customer preferences relating to order fulfilment:
- 43% of respondents said they have relied moderately on in-store pick-ups during the pandemic
- 18% said they relied exclusively on in-store pick-ups
- 49% believe they will continue to use in-store or pick-up point delivery post-COVID-19.
There are several routes retailers can take to arrive at a shipping solution that will satisfy the expectations of Australian shoppers. Online marketplaces and individual retailers can balance the post-purchase component of a sale by keeping customers engaged—whether it be through social channels or access to exclusive discount codes. These incentives should keep customers focused on the brand, instead of the courier.
Of course, some issues are outside of the merchant’s control, such as the 66% of shoppers who report the inability to touch, feel or test products being a major issue for them. Other factors can be addressed proactively. The implementation of more effective returns and refunds process, for example, can be highly effective in addressing a number of other customer concerns.
Consumers prioritise a seamless shopping experience over innovative new features
The research revealed a key insight for Australian retailers: a robust technology infrastructure capable of delivering a seamless shopping experience is central to customer satisfaction. 64% of respondents stated that greater focus on factors like faster webpage load speeds, real-time stock checking and a smoother checkout experience would have a positive effect on their online shopping experience (32% were neutral on this issue).
Keeping these insights in mind, in the short term it would seem merchant business performance would benefit from improving the core features and functionality that shoppers expect. With online retail sales on the up, now is the ideal time. In year-on-year terms, the growth in the NAB Online Retail Sales Index (62.7% y/y), is amongst the strongest growth recorded in the series history.
In the longer term, brands will need to move beyond core services toward more innovative offerings—especially as the eCommerce space becomes increasingly crowded and competitive. That is when investment in next-generation technologies may prove to be an effective differentiating strategy for gaining a much needed competitive edge.
Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to bring the customers much closer to the shopping experience they’re used to in-store. Today, 12% of Aussie shoppers are already using VR technology. And the industry could see this number rise in the near future, as 44% say they’re more willing to use it now as a result of the pandemic.
This could even provide the perfect answer for many Aussie shoppers (34%) who are feel they are missing the festive spirit due to COVID-19 forcing them to do much of their Christmas shopping online this year.
Christmas Shopping Trends: GetApp Australia eCommerce Survey methodology*
This survey ran in October 2020 from an online survey of 1,000 respondents from Australia. The criteria for participants were consumers who have made an online purchase in the last six to 12 months.