Non-essential stores - including fashion, furniture, toy and home improvement stores - were closed for four months or more in the UK in 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. Our newly launched consumer polling survey measures how lockdown has impacted UK shopper behaviour, as well as how this behaviour will continue to change in 2021.
Below we share some of the most interesting lockdown shopper trends that have emerged in the past 12 months.
We asked consumers how their shopping behaviour changed in 2020 compared to previous years. Lockdown led shoppers in all age and gender groups to buy products online that they would normally purchase in store.
Given the closure of non-essential retail stores it came as no surprise that 54% admitted to specifically having bought more online in the past year, with just under 60% of female respondents admitting to have visited physical stores less and shopping online instead. This percentage was higher in the 55-64 and 65+ age groups, likely for two reasons: older shoppers bought online less than the average previously, and were most likely to be shielding in 2020 and more reliant on home deliveries.
In addition to noting how UK shopper behaviour had changed, we asked our respondents how they expect their shopping habits to change in 2021, in a bid to provide evidence that the shift to online shopping that took place in 2020 will not completely reverse once lockdown ends.
37% believe they will visit physical stores less often in 2021, which is no surprise given that lockdown was still in place when the survey was conducted. Again, older age groups were the most likely to report they would switch to buying online for products previously bought in stores (38% of the 65+ group said this compared to only 22% of the 18-25 group).
The UK Office for National Statistics estimates that 35.2% of all retail spending took place online in January 2021. This is up by more than half on January 2020, when the figure stood at 19.5%.
When asked how much they expect to spend on shopping online in 2021, 39% of respondents expect to spend more online than in the previous year, backing up our prediction that online spend will continue to rise in 2021 despite the planned reopening of non-essential stores in the coming months.
The 25-34 and 35-44 age groups were the most likely to predict they would spend a lot more online, at 16% and 14% respectively. 18-24 year olds were the most likely to expect to spend a lot less online; 11% said this compared to an average of 4% across all ages.
Certain product categories proved popular online in lockdown - as people bought items to help them work, exercise, and entertain themselves whilst at home. Our survey on UK shopper behaviour broke down the online retail types that consumers made purchases from in 2020 as well as who they expect to make purchases from in 2021.
The results show how important online channels are in some categories. Clothing, shoes & accessories, and food & pantry were the two categories where omnichannel retailers are far preferred over pureplay etailers and Amazon. Only 21% of respondents expect to buy no clothes, shoes & accessories online in 2021. Only 34% expect to buy no food or pantry items online, though food stores have remained open throughout lockdown.
As brands and retailers consider the changes to UK shopper behaviour, they will be expected to reassess their ecommerce strategies for the longer term. For those looking to prepare themselves for the 'new normal', having the right capabilities to adapt and strengthen your existing offerings and drive channel shifts is essential.
If you would like support on how to reassess your ecommerce strategy - or with optimising specific online channels such as your D2C site or marketplaces - please get in touch.
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Peak season is almost upon us and with all signs pointing to it starting earlier than ever, with Christmas gifting searches now ramping up in August and September, it’s time to start preparing for peak. In this article, we’re sharing our top five tips for planning and preparing for peak season with Google Ads and the strategies required to get your Paid Search ready so you can drive success over this crucial period.
In 2021, gifting search terms started increasing in popularity in August. The general trend is that people are looking, researching and weighing their options early, so it’s best to start your Paid activity early to ensure that you’re capturing that early research traffic. This will help drive revenue alongside aiding those consumers who are in their research phase.
From 2020 to 2021, spend during Cyber Week actually only rose 2% but in the weeks leading up to it, it increased by 16%. However, Cyber Week is still the biggest period during the latter half of the year, accounting for 23% of all online spend by consumers over peak. Being prepared and starting early will help you to maximise your time during this period.
According to Google, 48% of global consumers have stopped buying or using a service due to privacy concerns. Privacy is front of mind when consumers are shopping online and we know that Google is phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2023. This is going to make it much harder to track users online and it’s something that brands need to think about this now – waiting isn’t an option.
From a Google Ads point of view, you want to ensure you have set up the Google Ads tag across your site and have enabled ‘Enhanced Conversions’, which ensures all conversions are tracked and allows you to monitor other actions such as ‘Add to Cart.’ This is relatively easy to set up, especially if you use ‘Google Tag Manager’.
It’s also vitally important that you build up your first-party data during this time as this is data you own and it can be used when targeting consumers that have provided your brand with their email address. Pattern’s own experience shows that by segmenting and using first-party data, you can see a 10% improvement in revenue and ROI.
A full-funnel approach is now more important than ever as consumers become more discerning and have more choices than ever of where to shop.
Pattern has seen success with Google Ads’ ‘Discovery Campaigns’ (image-based ads that appear on Google platforms such as Gmail and the Google app), which have driven success both from a traffic and revenue perspective.
The performance of these campaigns is significantly enhanced by adopting a segmented and nuanced approach to first-party data and incorporating these into your campaigns. Other options for a full-funnel approach include YouTube and testing bidding on keywords that are more representative of the research phase. (e.g. ‘best baby clothes’ for a baby clothes brand)
Earlier this year, Google announced that they were moving away from Smart Shopping and launched Performance Max. This is a new campaign type that incorporates features and placements from Smart Shopping but expands them onto other platforms such as Gmail but also alternative creative options, such as images and videos.
Since Google has already started automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, expect to see some fluctuations in the first 2 weeks following the switch over but results generally seem positive. We recommend upgrading sooner rather than later to limit any potential impact to peak period.
Peak period will be even more competitive than in 2021 and you’ll need your budgets to support this period, we recommend boosting budgets in October to start capturing that early peak traffic. As we enter November and the Cyber Period, start early and make sure you are capturing those consumers looking for early bargains, ensuring you are being nimble in your optimisations and reacting to the data that you are seeing.
Overall, peak period is vital to help drive your sales and by preparing early, you will see strong results and drive success for your brand. If you want to discuss how your brand can navigate this next peak period, contact us to discuss your options with our performance team now.
Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.