Will COVID-19 Permanently Shift Online Shopping Habits?

Half of us would have never heard the words, ‘quarantine,’ and ‘pandemic’ before December 2019. COVID-19 changed numerous factors of our lives, starting from online classes for school children to social distancing in coffee shops. However, life goes on, and customers and their buying habits adapt and make the best out of it. The same goes for COVID-19 too. Consumer buying habits are changing tremendously. The bulk survival purchase and chase of toilet paper are just the beginning. 

Essential commodities online


In the past, online shopping ideas are usually fashion, toys, accessories, or other impulsive buying. People resorted to online sites for gifts and electronic items occasionally. The number of people who choose online platforms to buy groceries and related items was very less.


After the lockdown, essentials became the high demand product. Those online businessmen who did not have stock of essentials and groceries fell out of stock and lost a considerable share of the business to competitors.


On the other hand, the sales of non-essential items went down. People are concerned about virus spread via delivery guy, package materials, and others. Thus, they are not showing the same enthusiasm as before to buy non-essential items. Another reason for the same is the lack of monetary resources. While the economy is stagnant and lots of people stuck indoors without viable business (except for those who can work from home), the revenue available for impulse buying went down. 


Local products


A pack of bread from a manufacturer in another state would move between numerous intermediaries before reaching the shelves. However, a local bakery’s inventory would be more secure as the baker would presumably wear masks, and everyone visiting the bakery would also display the same hygiene factor. Thus, the demand for local products rose, and that of branded international products fell. This change is one of the enormous changes in consumer buying habits. Now, the online portals are more welcoming of lesser-known brands from local producers.


Health-centric shopping


The consumer buying habits always change with the environment. During this health-crisis situation, people choose to buy organic, nature, immunity-boosting, and other health products. There is a considerable decline in the demand for luxury products and an increase in the demand for health-conscious products.


Hygiene factor


In the past, when people looked out for online shopping ideas, they thought about price, customer service, offers, and others. Now, people choose an online portal based on the hygiene factor. Customers tend to favor sites, which ensure smooth business with a promise of hygiene. While COD was thriving in the past, people prefer not to handle paper money. Contactless delivery is becoming the norm. Any delivery system that gives more importance to hygiene factors will thrive.


Hobby items


The online customers and their buying habits are changing tremendously as the lockdown extends. While some customers do not want to spend money on anything non-essential, the rest are trying to pass the time. People are spending the entire day inside their homes, and they need to find ways to pass the time. Exercise items, gardening materials, books, video games, and others are in demand.


According to the experts, the shopping ideas for hobbies come from social media influencers and other famous personalities taking up social media platforms to show how they are spending time. If some movie star takes up Instagram with his cooking skills, people might tend to take up cooking. Generation X customers and their buying habits show that there is a 201% increase in exercise activities and purchases. Whereas there is a 138% increase in home cooking among baby boomers (more than 60 years of age).


Work from home and studying


The shopping ideas are not just for tangible consumer items. You can find a high increase in demand for online courses. People have a considerable amount of free time in hand, and they are choosing to spend it on their careers. The number of people enrolling in online course platforms is increasing, and even after the end of lockdown, the online courses would still get more attention. Thus, many training centers and teachers are taking up the internet to provide classes and certification training.


The shopping habits relate to what is necessary at the moment. For those planning to work from home, the requirement of the internet is monumental. There is a surge in demand for workstation materials for those who wish to create a personal work area in their homes.


Bulk buying


Even people with weekly shopping habits are avoiding frequent store visits. Those who shop online do not want to contact the delivery guy or the packages very often. Thus, people tend to buy in bulk. Dry food items, snacks, spice mixes or powders, canned items, and other long shelf-life items are now in demand in bulk. 

The golden generation into online


The term ‘online shopping habits’ usually refers to Generation Y and Z. Generation X and baby boomers do not have a robust online shopping experience or preference. However, with weeks after weeks without access to regular buying options, the older generations are moving towards online. The crowd mentality is kicking. When the shelves at the local stores are going empty, and there is a demand for essential items, people are moving towards online stores out of a lack of options to buy necessary items. Some of these senior buyers might stick with online purchases even after the pandemic comes under control.


Panic buying


The panic buying is similar to crowd mentality. People have greater exposure to numerous apocalyptic movies and books. Although COVID-19 is far away from being an apocalyptic situation, people fear the worse. Thus, panic buying kicks in. They prefer to keep their pantry as full as possible. Therefore, people are altering their shopping behavior to buy for an apocalyptic situation.


The behavior of men vs. women


There is a considerable difference in the shopping behavior of men and women during this situation. 25% of women are showing concern about money spent during this pandemic, and one-third of men are worrying about expenses. Thus, non-essential item buying behavior is more in women than men. 


The increase in online shopping behavior is the right approach for the wellness of your family and your community. Social distancing is possible only with the use of technology to keep yourself within your homes while enjoying the basic amenities of the world. 

James Jackson

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