The soaring popularity of online shopping experienced during the Covid-19 Pandemic looks set to stay, with a projected 66% rise in the number of UK consumers intending to shop all, or mostly, online once restrictions are lifted, the UPS E-commerce Report 2021 suggests.
A quarter of all UK shoppers expect to buy all, or mostly, online following the pandemic, with key factors such as convenience, ease of comparing prices and finding deals, all expected to fuel the shift, the report, which was developed in partnership with You Gov, reveals.
The rise in online sales is also expected to be particularly prevalent among older generations, with a 125% increase in UK shoppers over the age of 55 buying all, or mostly, online, it anticipates.
Conversely, the number of UK consumers of all ages shopping all, or mostly, in-store once restrictions lift, is predicted to fall by 18% from pre-pandemic times.
The biggest move away from physical stores is expected to occur in the household, cosmetics and grocery categories, followed closely by electrical and white goods and clothes and footwear.
E-commerce companies hoping to benefit from the larger pool of potential customers should consider strengthening their offerings to better meet consumer expectations, with factors such as delivery partners and free delivery and returns, all increasingly important to consumers, UPS said.
In fact, 63% of UK consumers said that free returns were an important factor when choosing to shop online, while 41% said that a retailer’s choice of delivery partner would be a key driver in future purchases, the report found.
Consumers are also expected to favour independent retailers and businesses post- pandemic, with 62% of UK consumers intending to shop with more small or independent retailers.
Independent clothing and footwear retailers were the second most popular type of independent businesses that shoppers said they intended to support, narrowly behind independent grocery retailers.
Companies which demonstrated sustainable credentials also stood to garner a larger share of e-commerce sales post-pandemic, with 77% of UK consumers citing sustainability as important when choosing who to shop with, the report added.
Commenting on the findings, UPS UK marketing director Arthur Lam said: “The pandemic has accelerated digital shopping trends in an unprecedented manner.
“As the market becomes more competitive for e-commerce businesses, differentiation, through personalized customer services will become even more essential for those looking to stand out. Understanding consumers’ priorities and their expectations of online shopping is a vital part of our mission to deliver what matters to retailers and consumers alike.”