Industry Trends

Consumer Behavior Trends to Watch Due to the Pandemic

It’s no surprise that U.S. e-commerce sales increased by 44% in the second quarter of 2020, corresponding with the coronavirus pandemic, sheltering in place, and closing retail stores deemed non-essential. As the country slowly takes steps to return to some semblance of normal, consumer behavior trends have shifted — in some ways as a direct result of the pandemic, and in other ways, a result of disruptive technologies available for today’s online environment.

Industry Trends

Consumer Behavior Trends to Watch Due to the Pandemic

It’s no surprise that U.S. e-commerce sales increased by 44% in the second quarter of 2020, corresponding with the coronavirus pandemic, sheltering in place, and closing retail stores deemed non-essential. As the country slowly takes steps to return to some semblance of normal, consumer behavior trends have shifted — in some ways as a direct result of the pandemic, and in other ways, a result of disruptive technologies available for today’s online environment.

What are some of the consumer behavior trends to watch in the new year? And how should you shift your e-commerce strategy based on consumer behavior analytics to stay competitive and deliver more of what your shoppers want?

1. Consumers Are More Willing to Try New Retailers

A report from McKinsey shows that 46% of U.S. consumers have switched brands or retailers recently. Another study found that 57% of consumers polled were willing to try a new brand or a different retailer than their usual go-to. 

This shift in consumer thinking allows newer brands and smaller e-commerce sites to stand out by presenting their value proposition through an omnichannel approach, especially considering that an increasing number of younger consumers (Gen Z and millennials) shop via social media. It’s a great time to leverage targeted ads and promote products and content to attract new customers from social media. 

As you land new shoppers, based on your customers’ behavior and how they engage with your site, you can use deep product data and psychographics to better predict the items they will love and continue to connect them with styles that give them that must-have feeling.

Direct-to-Consumer Brands Have an Edge

More consumers are looking to direct-to-consumer brands in their quest to find the perfect products. These websites tend to feature a smaller variety of products, making the shopping experience less overwhelming and easier to navigate. Brands that aren’t D2C, and retailers with more extensive catalogs that sell many brands and labels, can still provide their customers with the same benefits by delivering a next-generation search experience. 

They can streamline their digital experiences using Lily AI’s deep product tagging to produce stronger on-site search results and improve filters and facets. Everlane is one example of a company that makes it easier for consumers to find the products they want online using Lily.AI’s sophisticated engine to offer attribute-driven search and individualized recommendations. 

2. Consumers Seek to Shop Local, Even Online

In addition to D2C brands, local brands are also thriving. One survey showed that consumers shopped local, even through online retailers, to: 

  • Reduce environmental impact (23%) 
  • Strengthen the local economy (57%)
  • Support job creation locally (41%) 
  • Invest in their community (35%) 

This means it’s increasingly more important for national brands to create a sense of community and show how you’re giving back. Building ties to your customers and helping them feel as if they are part of your community, and that their purchases contribute to a greater good, is crucial to success today when people crave connection on so many levels. 

3. Customers Expect Better Service

A report from Contentsquare discovered that only 15% of people across the U.S. and other countries are happy with their digital shopping experience, and fewer than 30% felt content and satisfied with online shopping right now. Among the chief complaints were:

  • Discount codes that don’t work (45%)
  • Pop-up ads disrupting their experience (48%)
  • Website or app crashes during checkout (48%)
  • Customers can’t find the items they want (42%) 

Seamless and scalable technology, fast-loading websites, and the right platform for your e-commerce store can help overcome some of these challenges. But the problems with online shopping today extend even further. COVID-19 has made people even more reliant on fast delivery from their favorite websites. But shipping delays are putting a damper on that. While supply chain issues and shipping delays may not always make it possible to get products in the hands of your customers as swiftly as you’d like, communication can go a long way in keeping customers happy and setting expectations in the current climate.

Are you getting ready to sell out of a product? Integrating your website with inventory systems and communicating when there are only a few left of a specific SKU can set reasonable expectations for your customers. Suppose search algorithms find a perfect match for a low-inventory or an out-of-stock product. In that case, your site should be able to offer multiple alternatives that pique interest based on a shopper’s style. That makes having more detailed and granular attributes attached to your entire catalog crucial.

When Customers Can’t Find the Items They Want

It’s frustrating to find your ideal clothing item and then realize it’s out of stock. But it’s even more frustrating to customers when they can’t find the items they need or want. In the survey, 42% cited the inability to find desired items as one of their chief complaints about online shopping. 

Lily AI’s algorithm and its ability to help you improve data taxonomy means you can tune product recommendations to consumer preferences and alleviate shopping frustrations that can lose sales. Through better product data and by learning more about the emotional context behind purchases and a customer’s behavior, using that to build unique consumer profiles, our technology empowers online retailers to make your customers feel like they have a personal shopper at their fingertips. 

4. Customers Learn to Live Without Fitting Rooms 

A lack of access to fitting rooms in all but a handful of brick-and-mortar stores stands as one of the most significant changes to retailers in the past year. Online retailers have faced this challenge for decades. Virtual reality and augmented reality applications can help e-commerce sites take some of the guesswork out of helping consumers find the right size clothing online.

However, choosing clothing online that looks and feels great is about more than just accurate measurements. Lily AI’s powerful algorithm can recommend clothes designed for a consumer’s specific body type and personal style based on their engagement with your website. The key is helping customers find clothing that fits them and makes them feel amazing.

Better Personalization Can Solve a Myriad of E-commerce Challenges

As consumer behavior trends shift due to the pandemic, online clothing retailers can evolve to fill gaps left by brick-and-mortar stores. Lily AI drives deep personalization to enable customers to have as close to an in-store shopping experience as they can without leaving their homes. 

Are you ready to change the way your customers search on your site? Reach out to Lily.AI to learn more about our technology. 

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing professional specializing in technology, e-commerce, web development, personal finance, and real estate. Her work regularly appears on Yahoo! Finance, GoBankingRates, GeekTravelGuide.net, and many other sites. 


References:

https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/article/quarterly-online-sales/ 

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/solutions/periscope/our-insights/surveys/reinventing-retail 

https://goop.com/style/trends/10-direct-to-consumer-brands-we-love/#:~:text=Everlane's%20%E2%80%9Cradical%20transparency%E2%80%9D%20philosophy%20is,to%2Dconsumer%20brands%20out%20there.

https://chainstoreage.com/shopify-five-leading-retail-trends-2021-are


https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2021/01/12/how-the-2020-shopping-season-will-inform-digital-trends-in-2021/

https://medium.com/we-need-to-talk/why-do-online-retailers-keep-ignoring-virtual-fitting-rooms-fbf47c5efca0 

https://news.shopify.com/charging-ahead-shopifys-first-annual-future-of-commerce-report-reveals-five-trends-brands-need-to-know-in-2021