With the constant change in the state of the world due to the COVID-19 Pandemic — many shoppers have developed buying habits that are here to stay.
In the past year shoppers have become accustomed to purchasing their groceries online, having prescriptions delivered to their doors, joining virtual fitness classes, and picking up their local beer curbside. This has changed the way consumers shop, and we don’t see these changes going away.
What does this mean for you as a business owner? Here, we’ll dig into the data and explore five consumer trends brought on by the pandemic, why they’ll have staying power, and how you can successfully adapt your business in 2022 and beyond.
1. Increase in online shopping
With many retail stores closing temporarily or indefinitely, many stores shifted to an online-only strategy. The spillover effects have forced buyers to adjust their habits, too.
52% of buyers say they’ve shifted more of their spending to online compared to earlier this year. For some, online purchases became the safer option—and their preferred choice—even as stores have reopened: 51% of those surveyed said they felt uncomfortable with in-store shopping during a pandemic. Even as many places begin to reopen, shopping online remains the preferred option—and, with improved delivery and pickup options, the more convenient option, too.
2. Support for local and independent businesses
One beautiful thing that has come from the pandemic, is the sense of togetherness that it has inspired. The increased support for small, local businesses that have been hit hard by lockdown restrictions has been immense.
This trend is not only here to stay, it’s actually picking up steam. Buyers have a clear appetite for small, independent businesses with unique offerings and personalized customer service. Lean into these strengths in your communications: how is your shopping experience or product special?
3. Demand for curbside pickup
From grocery stores, to your local restaurant, curbside pickup has been a lifeline for countless businesses. Offering many benefits to buyers too, being a more convenient way to get items same-day without stepping in-store or paying for rush shipping costs. These are just a few reasons why 40% of buyers selected curbside pickup for online purchases in the first three months of this year.
Research shows the demand for curbside pickup will likely remain steady through the end of 2021 and into 2022. Outside of safety concerns, curbside pickup proves to offer convenience to many shoppers.
4. Demand for local delivery
In tandem with curbside pickup, local delivery has increased in popularity as an alternative to shipping or in-store shopping. With the reliability and delivery times of carriers impacted by the pandemic, many businesses have taken their own measures to get products in the hands of customers. This has been especially critical for items normally unfit for postal mail, like perishables.
The local delivery trend shows no signs of slowing down. In a recent Shopify survey, 33% of buyers predicted they’ll choose local delivery through the end of the year—the same percentage as those who say they have already used it.
5. Shift toward virtual experiences
With shutdowns and social distancing, many businesses had to shift to provide a virtual experience to their shoppers. Gyms, salons, and art studios have had to scramble to jumpstart or improve their digital strategy and, in some cases, create new products from scratch. Some fitness studios have creatively pivoted to video production in order to deliver virtual classes on demand.
Since consumers may not feel comfortable returning to “business as usual,” even as areas slowly reopen, the appetite for virtual experiences is likely to endure through the end of 2021 and into 2022.
Moving into 2022 and Beyond
None of us could have predicted what 2020 and 2021 would bring. Though we may not have been expecting it, COVID-19 accelerated a shift in buying habits that was already happening, reinforcing that these consumer trends have staying power. Businesses that will survive a global pandemic are those willing to adapt to changing times—and meet buyers where they are as we continue to see these trends move into 2022 and beyond.