It seems as though the word of 2020 is ‘unprecedented’ – and undoubtedly, this article won’t be the first time you’ve heard that word this year! Society has changed, and for many, their day-to-day activities have changed along with it. With the coronavirus crisis impacting vastly on the retail sector, which has been disproportionately hit by closures and restrictions, consumer’s buying behaviour too, has changed.

2020 has seen people who may not usually choose to shop online do so; out of necessity if not desire. Surveying over 2,000 British consumers and asking about their shopping and online buying habits, Feefo’s qualitative research has uncovered some interesting and, in some cases, surprising statistics relating to all stages of the purchasing journey.

Pre-purchase, whilst still decision making, 70% of those interviewed head straight online to research into a product or service once they’ve decided they wish to make a purchase.

Of those, a hefty 79% default immediately to visit either Google or Amazon – a damning statistic for small businesses who undoubtedly will want to compete, and an interesting stat in a world of social media users who often focus toward utilising and supporting their local SMEs.

Feefo the Head of Digital, Richard Tank states that ‘While Google’s online trust on the web has extended been documented, it’s clear that Amazon is instantly just as leading because of the search engine, also though it’s technically an online retailer.

It’s important to recognise that while customers may start their search on these websites, they often end up buying from somewhere else. Today’s digital view is ever-changing, and institutions have to meet the needs of their customers across the whole purchase journey to support businesses and trademark reliability. The conclusions of this survey emphasise that.’

Similarly, perhaps concerning the image, social media may sell you, only 4% of online shoppers consider global issues such as the environment when making a purchasing decision. Whilst this isn’t a bad market share for sustainable businesses, it’s worth remembering that this is just a consideration – and not a deal-breaker.

Communicating with customer service departments is, obviously, different when bridging the gap between consumer and brand in person. Still, it seems as though customer expectation weighs hard no matter the channel: 3 in 10 online shoppers expect a response to a query within 10 minutes, even if they’ve made contact through a method that doesn’t lend itself to an apparent rapid response! This is a challenge for all brands.

Whilst all big brands have had their ‘core values’ in place for many years now, and that may happen as a shock to understand that over half of the consumers (55%) are influenced by them; although, of course, this is reliant on them knowing what they are before they can be in favour of them.

Post-purchase, the survey shows that 70% of consumers prefer email communication with a brand over any other method – which will be a reassurance to some companies who have robust email systems in place, but a shock to those reliant on different channels.

Tank goes on to state ‘Customer faith and support is crucial to growing an online market that arises, and lasts. While the impact of the ‘big two’ won’t be improving anytime quickly, brands small and big need do everything people can to develop connections with their customers, to ensure they keep coming back for more.

Listening, learning and growing more personalised buyer participation is key to long term success. Technology, as an enabler, must be fully utilised for online businesses to achieve this.’

One thing is for sure: online retailers can’t rest on their laurels and can’t rely on how the public presents itself to judge their needs and wants customer service wise properly. Instead, they must cater for all and continue to offer services across a variety of channels; and fast!