Coronavirus Sends Most Americans Online to Shop

Ware2Go has announced results from a research study of American consumers’ shopping patterns in the era of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Ware2Go has announced results from a research study of American consumers’ shopping patterns in the era of the coronavirus pandemic. Over 1,000 consumers were surveyed in April 2020 to learn more about e-commerce and retail shopping, particularly related to social distancing practices during COVID-19. The survey also explored how shopping preferences are changing and buyers are seeking out new products as well as shopping and delivery experiences during COVID-19.

New Shopping Patterns

Consumers have made a dramatic shift, as 88% report their shopping habits have changed due to the pandemic. Some 87% of respondents are shopping online, and 64% state they have replaced traditional weekly shopping trips with online ordering. More than half (53%) say they are ordering takeout or delivery to support small businesses, and 33% are “tipping more than usual.”

As consumers rapidly move online, new shopping patterns are emerging. Some 58% of Americans browse online retailers daily, and 39% plan to continue online shopping to avoid visiting stores. More than half (55%) say they’re purchasing from online retailers they’ve never shopped with before, and many are buying a broader range of products. Some 61% are buying groceries, and 45% are purchasing clothing, while 34% of consumers are buying vitamins and supplements online. Some 28% are buying pet supplies, and 56% of those purchasing pet supplies are buying food and treats.

Supply Chain Strain

However, the rush to online shopping has stressed the supply chain. Some 69% of consumers have experienced shipping delays, and 83% say they’ve experienced items being out of stock. Consequently, shoppers have concerns about sourcing needed items, particularly high-demand personal care and cleaning products.

Citizens are worried that certain products will be in short supply for the next six months or more, including:

  • Hand sanitizer – 65%
  • Toilet paper – 62%
  • N95 masks – 52%
  • Food – 49%
  • Ventilators – 35%

Some 85% of respondents are concerned that costs for consumer goods will rise amid the global pandemic, and 36% of consumers are stocking up for shortages.

Manufacturers Pivot to Direct-to-Everyone

Much of the purchasing patterns across new online sellers and categories take the form of direct-to-consumer sales. As a result, merchants are finding themselves pivoting from the business-to-business (B2B) paradigm to the B2E (business to everyone) model, with unique shipping, logistics and fulfillment requirements. According to Steve Denton, CEO of Ware2Go, COVID-19 has accelerated a shift that was already underway. “If you are selling now, your business is B2E,” he said.

Browsing and Retail Therapy Provide Relief

While stores are closed, consumers are embracing online shopping as “retail therapy,” with 60% saying that they’re practicing retail therapy during isolation. The most popular items with shoppers include:

  • Clothing – 39%
  • Skincare products – 33%
  • Cooking supplies – 32%
  • Pet supplies – 27%

“Most sellers have experienced the huge shift to e-commerce orders as a result of current conditions,” Denton said. “For numerous merchants, supply chain and infrastructure requirements have changed.  They need a solution to manage the surge in consumer sales, and many require a flexible fulfillment solution like ours, which can seamlessly pivot between B2B shipments and B2C e-commerce deliveries as demand evolves.”