Online shopping is here to stay — and for good reason. The convenience of tech-enabled shopping has become an essential mainstay in the age of COVID-19, and especially during high-traffic shopping seasons, like the holidays.
Ecommerce is dominating the consumer playing field as spending preferences and comfort levels radically shift with our new normal. And with the many perks of online shopping, it’s no surprise that consumers are turning to screens instead of stores.
In fact, half of consumers (48%) say they would be fine if they never shopped in a physical store again, and nearly three-quarters of consumers (74%) believe the majority of consumer shopping will happen online in the future.
Jungle Scout surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers to learn about their spending habits and motivations for shopping online.
Here are the reasons consumers opt to shop online, ranked by popularity.
The Top Reasons Consumers Prefer to Shop Online
In 2020, convenience is the gold standard. 34% of consumers say their online spending increased in Q3 — even while overall spending dropped. Consumers favor shopping online for ease alone. In a few minutes, you can order a product, confirm payment, and see its shipping status from the comfort of your home or in the palm of your hand.
Online spending in Q3 2020
2. More product options
Consumers want to easily compare products by price, reviews, and features and have become more discerning in the product selection process. For almost all product categories, consumers prefer to shop online. The only exception is essential products like groceries, cleaning products, and over-the-counter medicines — and one-third of consumers still buy these online.
3. Search for a certain brand
57% of consumers consider themselves “brand loyalists.” So what’s the top reason that consumers buy from a specific brand? While consumers value superior quality, the most compelling is if the brand has consistently lower prices than its competitors, followed closely by if the product has the best reviews and ratings.
4. Free shipping
The simple luxury of free shipping may be the difference between purchasing online or grabbing an in-store equivalent. From a retailer’s point of view, providing free shipping can nudge shoppers to buy more and “balance out” the delivery costs. It can also incentivize conversion and avert cart abandonment — a habit of 52% of consumers.
5. Safety (avoiding public stores)
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, more consumers are shopping online to minimize potential exposure by avoiding physical stores. 63% of consumers have a greater appreciation for Amazon now than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic; 58% of consumers say they are shopping on Amazon more frequently than they did before the pandemic, too.
6. Lower prices
Price is the single most important factor influencing a consumer’s decision to purchase: when shopping online, 74% of consumers say they are looking for the product with the lowest price. Coupled with the fact that 61% of consumers are worried about their current financial situation, it makes sense that shoppers are looking online to explore the most affordable options.
7. Fast shipping
Consumers want their products delivered as soon as possible. 54% of online shoppers are willing to pay extra money for faster shipping, and 59% of shoppers on Amazon would do the same. Amazon has solidified its position as the most reliable retailer in terms of speed: 64% of consumers say when they need to get a product fast, they look for it on Amazon.
With online shopping, it’s easy for consumers to search for deals, join rewards programs, and get promotions sent right to their inboxes. Plus, companies design their season’s advertising around major holiday sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and some consumers only shop when they see those deals. About one-third of consumers (34%) shop for deals when buying holiday gifts for others.
9. Find new brands
Consumers have turned to online retailers to explore their options — and discovering a promising brand sticks. Only 10% of consumers don’t care about brand names, while 25% of consumers always look for a specific brand. By exploring their product options, shoppers can find new brands and create relationships with them more quickly.
10. Products only sold online
Some specialty, limited-edition, or branded products are exclusively available online. In that case, online shopping is the only avenue for purchase. Some direct-to-consumer brands like Warby Parker, Casper, and Allbirds built huge businesses entirely online and have since expanded to physical stores.
11. Price comparison
As mentioned, price is the most important factor for online purchases. Consumers are more price-conscious than ever before, and they can whittle down wishlists by assessing the competition. They can easily navigate from one product page to another to find the best price in a few clicks.
12. See reviews
Social proof heavily sways consumer decision making, too. 72% of shoppers are influenced by the product with the best ratings and reviews, and 71% of shoppers are influenced by reviews that contain photos or videos. The act of crowdsourcing opinions gives online retailers a big credibility boost by establishing trust between other consumers and the product.
13. Proximity and access to a store
Some consumers are unable to leave their homes or carry items from a store.
Additionally, other consumers don’t live near a physical store. Online retailers do the heavy lifting for shoppers (literally and figuratively) and have the infrastructure to deliver the products swiftly.
Consumers don’t want to sacrifice on the particulars, and they don’t have to. Whether it’s to cut costs, validate purchases with social proof, or have something delivered — or often all the above, online shopping is advantageous in more ways than one.