“The Future Will Be Amazing” Online Retail, One Year Later

Power Retail By Power Retail | 18 Mar 2021

How have shopping habits changed over the course of the pandemic? A new report from eBay has discovered the most significant transformations among Australian online shoppers, and how they may impact retailers. 

The periods of lockdown have influenced more Aussies to shop online, which is unsurprising following the e-commerce boom experienced from March 2020 to the end of the calendar year.

The Biggest Online Shoppers

As such, eBay has recorded an additional one million Australian customers on its database. The youngest generation of shoppers, Gen Z, made up more than half (57 percent) of online shopping. Somewhat surprisingly, the second most popular age group to shop online were Baby Boomers, who recorded the biggest increase in pre-COVID figures (69 percent).

“We have witnessed the rapid acceleration of e-commerce first hand. There are now an extra one-million shoppers heading to eBay since the pandemic began, bringing us to 12-million unique monthly visitors,” said Tim MacKinnon, the Managing Director of eBay.

“Not having to physically go into stores and getting the best value were identified as some of the main benefits to shopping online during the pandemic with more than half (58 percent) saying they feel safer and four in five (81 percent) finding better deals online compared to in-store. We’ve also seen huge support for homegrown businesses. Searches on eBay for ‘Australian Made’ items rose by more than 430 percent in July. With 40,000 Aussie businesses on-site, it’s easy for shoppers to support local while enjoying the convenience of being able to find everything in the one place,” he said.

via eBay

The Rise of SMBs Selling Online

The report has also found that one in ten Australians (12 percent) have either started a business online or pivoted their existing business to an online platform. Half of the respondents (49 percent) that said they started a new business did so through an online marketplace.

How many of these businesses plan to continue operating following the pandemic? According to eBay, 52 percent of online businesses said they would continue as a ‘side hustle’ in the future.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, Australians spent more than $59 million on books on eBay. Furthermore, throughout COVID, three LEGO sets were bought every minute on eBay’s platform.

“The past 12 months have been an incredibly volatile period for Australian retail with state lockdowns, ‘panic buying’ and higher levels of discretionary spending,” said Dominque Lamb, the CEO of the National Retail Association.

“While we saw an uptick in retail spend over the holiday period, online shopping has played a bigger part in this role than ever before.”

Will the Trend Continue?

While it’s undisputed that online served as a necessary tool to help ease the strain of the pandemic, will this upward trajectory continue? According to MacKinnon, 82 percent of respondents said they would continue to shop online as much as they are now.

“With the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, 83 percent of people say they plan to continue shopping online as much as they are now, indicating there has been a permanent shift in the way the nation shops following the pandemic,” he explained.

According to eBay, three in four 75 percent) of those who were working from home during the peak of the pandemic admitted to shopping online during working hours.

The report found that men (56 percent) were more likely to shop online than women (44 percent) while working from home. Why is this? According to eBay, the male shoppers felt they ‘no longer had the embarrassment of hiding deliveries from their colleagues’.

While it’s impossible to report on what the future will look like, this e-commerce boom could be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of innovation for online retail, said Chris Riddell, a Futurist. “This is, without doubt, the most extraordinary time to be a consumer. Over the next five years alone, we will experience more innovation than we’ve seen in the last 50 years,” he said.

“Much of what we are seeing today is just the tip of the iceberg for the new normal where online platforms, like marketplaces, integrate themselves into this new world of intelligent experiences, where data will be utilised to make sure the experiences are personalised at every single moment, from computers as CEOs to digital storefronts and virtual e-commerce dating assistants. Yes, the future will be different. But the future will also be amazing.”

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