Online Consumer Habits Have Changed… But What Are You Doing About It?

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By Kat, 1 month ago (6 min read)

Since lockdown we’ve all had to make lifestyle changes to adapt, but one area that’s probably seen significant change more than most is how we shop – with more of us shopping online than ever before. 

Of course, a lot of this is to do with necessity, given that many non-essential stores were closed due to lockdown restrictions. But as we all adjust to a new normal, it’s clear that some of these habits are here to stay – or certainly won’t revert back to how they were. 

For businesses, this means it’s essential to adapt online marketing and design strategies to meet these new behaviours head on in order to stay current and competitive.

So what’s changed?

Before making any changes to your business strategies, you need to have a firm grasp of what’s changed. So let’s take a closer look…

People are spending more time online: unsurprisingly, the amount of time users spend on the internet has increased since lockdown. This is likely down to the fact that when people were stuck at home, they had more free time to search the internet. Yet even as restrictions are being lifted, many of these habits are continuing to stay, with people still using the internet more than they did pre-pandemic.

People are buying less non-essential items: in the early stages of the pandemic, there was a definite shift towards people focusing on essential purchases over luxury items for obvious reasons. However, this trend could continue as economic uncertainty means many consumers have shifted their values, trading down high-end purchase for lower priced items due to concerns around job and financial security.

People are more adventurous with their online shopping: before COVID-19, a lot of people would have certain products they would purchase exclusively in-store or online. However, necessity has meant that many people have become more adventurous with their online shopping habits, with 50% of people buying in-store goods through online stores instead. This catalyst for adoption could see this continue to be the go-to for many shoppers, especially with the introduction of payment options such as Klarna making online purchases easier than ever before.

People are leaving more online reviews: the growing popularity of online reviews was already on the rise, with more people not just leaving their own reviews, but using others’ experiences to influence their own purchasing habits. The increase since COVID-19 is likely linked with people buying more online, but reviews are becoming an increasingly important metric for businesses to monitor as they have the potential to make or break your brand’s perception.

People are shifting their brand loyalty: in some instances, brands will have experienced greater brand loyalty since lockdown, but others may have lost it. This could be due to supply chain disruptions forcing shoppers to look elsewhere. However, it could also be down to how brands responded to the pandemic. Recent data shows that 81% of people say they’re more likely to buy from a brand who they trust to do the right thing in times of crisis. As we adjust to a ‘new norm’, we could expect to see continued changes in consumer perceptions on brand loyalty and trust. 

People expect better customer service: offering good customer service has always been important, but during these uncertain times it’s been essential to retaining and reassuring customers. This expectation is likely to be here to stay, particularly with more people shopping online and therefore feeding more queries through online platforms.

So what should you do about it?

With greater insight into how online consumer behaviour has changed, it’s time to figure out how you can meet their needs. 

Improve your website design: with more people spending time online, it’s imperative to provide them with a positive user experience (UX) when they visit your website. An easy to use ecommerce site that guides users logically through their shopping journey is crucial. 

From page loading speed and simple navigation bars to informative content and relevant imagery, take the time to ensure your website puts the user experience first. This will help keep people on your site for longer and ensure they find exactly what they’re looking for to convert into a purchase. 

Optimise your onsite content: ensuring your site is SEO-friendly is all part of the process for increasing your brand’s online presence. However, in light of altered buying habits, this should be an area you look to update to make sure you’re tapping into changing search intent and keyword terms since lockdown. 

With more people buying products online that they’d previously buy in store, you should be making valuable updates to your content to meet these shifts. Start by identifying any new keywords that have appeared since lockdown or significant increases in search volumes relating to your industry. From here you can adapt your online content to include these new search terms to help your site rank better in search engine results pages (SERPs).

This isn’t just a case of inserting them into your existing content though. Search engines use sophisticated algorithms that analyse a multitude of different metrics for ranking a site, which means keywords alone won’t improve your chances of ranking in SERPs. Instead, look to make semantic updates to the content to naturally incorporate new terms and establish your site’s authority and relevance within your niche. This will all go towards giving search engines the right signals, as well as improve the user experience as the content will be tailored to altered search intent. 

Strengthen your customer communications: in a bid to bolster customer retention and satisfaction, brands will also need to pay closer attention to how and when they interact with customers. With a higher expectation for better customer service that leads to repeat sales and positive reviews, investing in improving your customer communications is key. 

Whether you opt to install a live chatbot to increase customer query response time or invest time in post-purchase follow ups to nurture existing relationships, in order to adapt to shifts in customer’s behaviours it pays to make customer service readily available at all points of the sales funnel.

Include consumer reviews: with data suggesting that the average consumer reads 10 reviews before making a purchase, it’s clear they have an integral part to play in building trust and legitimacy for your brand. With more people using online platforms to purchase everything from groceries to electrical goods, providing users with the chance to read and leave reviews can be an effective way to validate your brand and grow your online presence. Whether you do this through an integrated review platform on your site or use Google reviews or similar, it’s an important step to take in catering for new online consumer behaviour.

In these unprecedented times, we’re all facing a great deal of change, but in order to ride the wave of change, it’s essential to adapt rather than wait for things to return to normal. Hopefully the above insights will give you plenty of food for thought in how you can tweak your marketing and design strategies in the face of changing consumer habits, but if you’re at a loss on where to start, why not let the experts take the reins? 

At Land Digital, we thrive on creating custom solutions that have a meaningful impact for our clients. Simply get in touch to find out how we can help you tackle changing consumer behaviour head on and future-proof your business.