Research shows online shopping uptick with higher consumer expectations of brands

Gai Le Roy, Chief Executive Officer of IAB Australia

IAB Australia and Pureprofile has found that marketers need to shift gears to provide satisfying omnichannel shopping experience amidst escalating consumer expectations. 

The Australian Ecommerce Report 2021 was conducted in June this year, at a time when most of Australia was out of lockdown and people had resumed some of their pre-covid lifestyle.

IAB Australia Ecommerce Report 2021 findings

The report flagged local, sustainable and ethical brands as the biggest winners in the year coming ahead, particularly for direct-to-consumer brand shoppers.

The report based on research conducted with 1,000 Australian online shoppers, examining the consumer attitudes, behaviours and influences driving ecommerce in Australia.

The Australian Ecommerce Report 2021 found that there has been a fundamental shift in consumer shopping behaviour driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.

The report shows that Australian retailers have adapted with investments in digital transformation that have resulted in extraordinary growth in ecommerce expenditure. 

The Report also found that convenience was named by 76% of online shoppers as the biggest driver of online shopping and one that was worth paying a premium for.

However, it’s no longer a strong differentiator for brands to simply be online and offer choice. 

Marketers need to ensure they are consistently reviewing the entire buying journey they offer customers, from the research phase through to delivery of the goods purchased. 

While most shoppers were not new to online shopping in 2020, 84% of those who increased online shopping have sustained this increase or purchased even more frequently in 2021. 

76% of online shoppers indicated they were buying online at least once a month.

Online search was the most popular source by consumers for inspiration and discovering brands when buying online, while social media played a significant role for millennials, with half indicating social media is now an important part of how they find products to buy. 

Retailer marketing channels were important in communicating to online shoppers with 59% often reading content distributed via retailer websites, emails and catalogues.

Comments on the IAB Australia Ecommerce Report 2021

Gai Le Roy, CEO of IAB Australia saidd, “It is no surprise that the pandemic has changed retail habits and sped up the adoption of ecommerce for brands and consumers.”

“We felt it was important to provide the market with industry data on shopping habits and future intentions to explore drivers for brand selection, sources for inspiration and discovery.”

“For a nation that has been in lockdown for most of the past year, it seems like many of us have made comfortable additions to our wardrobe with clothing leading shopping category with 72% of online shoppers making a clothing purchase online over the last year.”

Martin Filz, CEO of Pureprofile said, “The migration to online retail has accelerated during the pandemic. The survey shows evolution in consumers finding and connecting with brands.”

“In a saturated online retail marketplace, consumers are seeking recommendations through search and social for easily contactable customer service, and premium fast local delivery.”

“To thrive in this new technologically enhanced environment, marketers must adapt and upgrade the buyer journey to reflect these new shopper expectations and behaviours.”

Other IAB Australia Ecommerce research findings

The report indicates that 56% of direct brand shoppers and 39% of non-direct brand shoppers are more likely to buy from retailers who have behaved well during the pandemic.

This is an opportunity for brands to authentically showcase values and ethical credentials. 

46% of online shoppers are now buying more things online from local retailers, presenting a clear opportunity for brands to develop a sense of community and connection. 

Ethical and sustainable propositions resonate more strongly with direct-to-consumer brand shoppers, with some 54% of direct brand shoppers preferring to buy from brands they know are sustainable compared to 38% of non-direct brand shoppers.

Direct brands should amplify communication of brand proof points over hygiene factors 

Value for money has increased as a compelling reason for choosing direct brands this year, however other hygiene factors such as being simple to buy and having quick and easy returns are not distinguishing direct brands as much as they did last year.

Brand proof points like innovation, personalisation, socially responsible, environmentally friendly and Australian owned are more compelling reasons for purchasing a direct brand.

Shopper rewards programs are popular with online shoppers, but trust and increased transparency are needed as 9 in 10 online shoppers have signed up to at least 1 shopper rewards program and amongst these 45% are signed up to 4 or more cards.

The report found that 54% of online shoppers have expressed some concerns regarding how retailers use the data about them provided via the loyalty program or reward card, but concerns are reduced when consumers have a high level of trust with an individual retailer. 

Most loyalty card holders understand retailers use their data to target advertising and market to them but 30% lacked knowledge on whether their data was provided to other companies.