Pandemic drastically changing shopping patterns

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CHICAGO — Consumers are not only accelerating their use of e-commerce sites and other digital channels during the pandemic, those channels are significantly influencing in-store shopping behavior as well, according to new survey findings from 1WorldSync.

1WorldSync, a global product content platform for brands and retailers, explores the preferences of U.S. consumers who have shopped online since the beginning of the pandemic (Spring 2020) in The Consumer Product Content Benchmark.

A large majority of online shoppers (87%) adopted e-commerce for items they primarily or exclusively purchased in-store prior to the pandemic. Clothing, groceries, and health and personal care items comprised the leading categories. For many, the shift may be permanent, as 38% said they plan to continue primarily shopping for specific items online, while 51% said they intend to shop for those items in-store and online in equal measure as the pandemic subsides. Only one in ten respondents (11%) said they would exclusively return to in-store shopping.

1WorldSync found shoppers frequently use online product content to assist or enhance their in-store shopping experience, with nearly seven in ten (69%) stating a brand’s online presence compels them to seek out or pay more attention to products while shopping in physical retail stores. Consumers research product information—via search engines, manufacturer websites and e-commerce stores—prior to shopping in physical stores 58% of the time, on average. Additionally, 80% of consumers say they look up product content while shopping in-store via their smartphones at least some of the time.

“We are currently in the midst of a potentially record-setting holiday season, and consumers are not only relying on digital channels—they’re taking those channels with them when they shop at brick-and-mortar stores,” said Steve Sivitter, CEO of 1WorldSync. “The results of the survey indicate the brands and retailers who invest in quality product content, such as professional product photography and rich media like videos and augmented reality, are more likely to convert and retain customers across all channels, not just e-commerce.”

Additional findings from the report include:

  • Consumer perspectives on Buy Online, Pick Up In Store retail models
  • The product content qualities most likely to cause a shopper to either leave an e-commerce product detail page or make a purchase
  • The types of product imagery consumers find most helpful when considering a purchase

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