The past year has been about nothing but change and adapting to change. The world, hit by a once-in-a-century pandemic, took all possible steps to avoid life coming to a complete standstill. This change made sure that nothing stays the same after COVID-19, including consumer behaviour.
Whether it was donning masks or sudden isolation from loved ones, COVID-19 changed the world overnight. The change is evident in much of what we do today. Everything from how we communicate, study, eat, shop, entertain, medicate ourselves or the way we work has changed.
The Emergence of New Online Behaviour
Be it finding ways to connect by making Dalgona Coffee, baking banana bread, or adapting to home offices via Zoom, the world had to adapt to a new normal. This new normal mostly found its way online: the only safe space, which was virtual and saved you from exposure. This was seen clearly in online retail especially.
“We have covered a decade in days when it comes to adoption of digital,” is an observation made by a leading consultancy management firm. It has indeed been the sign of the times, the world moved online, for most of its needs. Retail turned to e-tail in a matter of days.
Consumers prioritised their needs: grocery, health, medicine, electronic appliances saw a surge, while fashion, make-up, and seemingly luxury items took a backseat. Consumers also showed a preference for trusted brands and took no chances in exploring the unknown and new.
Data published in the media quoting various studies indicate that 40 percent of Indian consumers are now getting supplies delivered via e-commerce and not local shops. Reluctance in consumers to visit a traditional brick-and-mortar store is visible and indicates the biggest shift in consumer behaviour induced by the pandemic.
E-commerce: What Does the Future Hold?
Businesses are already innovating with ‘touch-free’ QR-coded menus and at-home personal shopping experiences. Online retail might see an increase in more influencer-led marketing, as consumers get more risk-averse. The future also holds the promise of increased adoption of online and online shopping models from Tier 2, small towns, and rural regions.
Leading online marketplaces have recently released data that shows that they have done deliveries in places that were not thought of earlier. Be it an Indian Air Force base in Gujarat, along the international border, Champai or Mokokching in the beautiful north-eastern parts of the country – the focus is on selling directly to the consumer in the smaller towns and cities of India.
Digital solutions in the form of videos and demonstrations of products and goods will increase online. More video-based content may get created around giving consumers a true feel and confidence of the purchases they make.
These shifts in consumer behaviour tell us one thing: that we are going to need new models and innovations in the days to come. It also brings into fore the expertise of current e-commerce players and businesses. Their expertise and know-how will play an important role as more and more brands and services look towards moving online and creating safe and innovative experiences for consumers.