The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted how people spend their money and the changes may be permanent, an Adobe report finds.
Adobe Analytics has released its latest Adobe Digital Economy Index report for May 2020, finding that e-commerce sales in May 2020 alone eclipsed the entire 2019 holiday shopping season.
The reason for this massive shift is likely the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left countless people isolated at home. Since lockdowns began in March, e-commerce spending has exceeded expectations by more than $52 billion.
In May 2020 alone, $82.5 billion was spent online, an increase of 77.8% over the same time in 2019. That means May exceeded levels of online shopping usually seen between November and December, and Adobe analysts say it's likely to be a permanent shift.
"We've had three months to adjust to 'the new normal;' we are seeing signs that online purchasing trends formed during the pandemic may see permanent adoption," said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights.
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Another massive shift in shopping habits comes from buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) orders, which showed a year-over-year growth rate of 195% in May. Twenty-three percent of people surveyed by Adobe for the study said they now prefer using BOPIS and curbside pickup over delivery, which Schreiner said is due to the ease and convenience of store pickup orders. What was once a niche method of shopping, he said, is likely here to stay after pandemic shutdowns abate.
The massive spike in online shopping has slowed with stay-at-home orders beginning to lift around the country and states that opened earlier, like Iowa, Florida, and Wyoming, have had slower increases in online shopping, though they're still seeing increases despite brick and mortar stores being accessible.
As for specific industries, electronics and clothing retailers have continued to see increases in online sales (by 11% and 12%, respectively) despite states reopening, while online sales of groceries declined by 14% in May.
What these trends mean for businesses
Schreiner called the shift to predominate online shopping a new normal and that means businesses who make and/or sell products will be hard pressed to ignore online shopping.
John Copeland, VP of Customer and Marketing Insights at Adobe, said that COVID-19 has changed business forever and current e-commerce trends are likely to continue. "Over the next couple of months, we will see an even bigger focus on experience-driven e-commerce, as the competition heats up where consumers are now putting so much of their attention online," Copeland said.
Despite the likelihood that e-commerce will continue to dominate in the post-pandemic world, there's still room for growth for businesses looking to improve their online presence. "One in four consumers say that they've had a negative experience shopping online, over the past three months, suggesting retailers have an opportunity to improve their site experiences," said Vivek Pandya, digital insights manager at Adobe.
If your organization has a small online retail presence, or it's had complaints from users in the past, now is the time to fix the problems and grow. Failure to do so at this critical juncture could mean being left behind as the retail world shifts away from face-to-face purchasing and permanently to online e-commerce.
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