By Nina Taniguchi, Ads Research and Insights Manager at Google
Much has already been written about how COVID-19 has dramatically changed consumer behavior. Across industries and regions, people prioritized essentials and reduced impulse purchases. At the same time, people facing closed stores, reduced hours, and social-distancing requirements turned to e-commerce, which grew 27.6% worldwide in 2020, according to eMarketer.
As marketers look toward a post-pandemic future, one of the primary questions that remains is, “Which of these changes are more likely to stick around?” To find out, we conducted research about three industries — retail, travel, and finance — in markets around the world, asking consumers about current behaviors and possible future shopping habits.
One thing becomes immediately clear. The pandemic has reinforced what brands and retailers should continue to focus on: enabling people to shop when they want, how they want, and where they want, all the while providing a pleasant and frictionless experience.
Structure your teams and budgets to be omnichannel
Search is crucial across all regions and categories. Online reviews are important. And more people are actually buying online. But the rise in e-commerce doesn’t mean that offline touchpoints have been made obsolete. For example, while we see on average a 56% increase in people saying they will buy CPG products online in the future, the majority (66%) still plan to shop in-store.1 And in areas of personal finance (banking, credit cards, insurance), over 70% of people still consider talking to a live customer service representative highly useful.2
Pay attention to pain points
Regardless of shopping method, brands will need to provide support throughout the entire journey and remove hurdles along the way. Over 25% of consumers across the markets and industries we researched report pain points like availability, payment issues, and customer support.3 By addressing barriers and providing superior post-purchase support, brands and retailers have an opportunity to provide additional value to consumers.
Invest in your own website or app
Across multiple categories, brand/retailer websites or apps are among the stickiest of touchpoints throughout the journey. And considering that many people made an online transaction for the first time during the pandemic, it is now more important than ever to deliver an excellent online experience.