The COVID-19 outbreak has democratized e-commerce for all types of consumers, according to Nielsen. Over 18 million CPG buyers (and counting) in the US have flooded the online space since March. Online shoppers have been mirroring their purchasing within the channel to their constantly shifting, pandemic-related needs. In addition, they are becoming further entrenched in their shopping behaviors.
However, not all online engagement leads to an online purchase. For many, online channels are a key means to compare prices, research new products and find physical stores. This gives way to a full-blown explosion of true omnichannel shopping. In fact, Nielsen Connect data shows that FMCG omnichannel shopping has increased by 50% in 2020. Nearly half of these leading to e-commerce purchases.
Online shoppers became more invested
When examining the levels of engagement across channels, 56% of online shoppers put careful consideration into each purchase at the point of sale in September 2020, compared with 51% of brick-and-mortar shoppers. Online shoppers became more invested than their brick-and-mortar counterparts in searching for the best product to fit new needs. As a result, it increased planning efforts for online grocery purchases into the new normal. When examining planning levels for in-store food purchases, rates of purchase planning dipped below pre-COVID-19 levels by September 2020. And as brick-and-mortar shoppers eased up on planning efforts, impulse purchasing for food and non-food products increased slightly across offline channels.
Percentage of online shoppers grew by 133%
The percentage of US consumers surveyed who shopped “heavily or exclusively” online grew by 133% between September 2019 and September 2020. Meanwhile, preferences for in-store pickup increased 26% during the same time period. Pet supplies, vitamins and skincare products saw particular sales growth on omnichannel platforms. Nielsen noted that Hispanic consumers (54%) have led the charge in utilizing both online and offline fulfillment methods in tandem, compared to respondents who identified as African American (43%) and Asian American (31%).
Omnichannel shopping is here to stay
More consumers are using online channels not only to purchase goods. They also compare prices, research and identify physical stores. Nielsen’s findings support its prediction that a post-pandemic environment will not witness a wholesale return to pre-pandemic retail habits, but rather that omnichannel shopping options for consumers are here to stay.