Study Shows Shifting Priorities in Digital Commerce Investment

This study examines what’s important to customers and businesses before and amid the COVID-19 crisis, demonstrating just how profoundly things have changed.

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Bloomreach released key findings from “The State of Commerce Experience,” an independent research study conducted by Forrester Consulting across business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) market segments.

This study examines what’s important to customers and businesses before and amid the COVID-19 crisis, demonstrating just how profoundly things have changed.

“This research is a must-read for any business navigating the changing market conditions and setting mid to long-term strategies in the current economic environment,” says Brian Walker, Chief Strategy Officer of Bloomreach. “We wanted to have a comprehensive view of digital commerce across consumers, B2B buyers, and the businesses serving them. Forrester more than accomplished that with this research and we’re excited to share it with businesses who need data to understand the impacts of changing customer behaviors.”

Forrester’s research and analysis indicates that with brick-and-mortar stores closed and supply chains under stress, the shift to e-commerce during COVID-19 has forced both B2B and B2C businesses to accelerate their digital commerce and customer experience strategies. As business shifts to online in the time of COVID-19:

  • Nearly half of businesses selling online (46%) report growth as a result of COVID-19. 
  • 50% of customers are shopping on digital channels for products they’ve never bought online before, with a focus on necessities early on in the quarantine. The COVID-19 crisis has changed consumer's purchasing habits, and e-commerce is now more important than ever. 
  • 70% of customers are purchasing more than usual and over 90% of customers say their behaviors are different as they avoid physical stores, put discretionary shopping on hold, and buy exclusively online or as much as possible online.
  • Over half (53%) of customers will not buy from the same business again if they have had a bad experience, and nearly 50% of customers would pay more for a better, faster online buying experience.  

The research also demonstrates that the pandemic has forced years of digital commerce transformation into just a few months. Major brands have to rapidly overhaul their digital commerce experiences and small retailers often have to enable online commerce for the first time. 

  • Within the next 12 months, the biggest budget increases will be in commerce technology and tools (67%) and third-party services deploying commerce tech (63%). 
  • Pre-COVID-19, almost half of businesses planned to increase budget for their offline stores, but since the Coronavirus outbreak, investment in offline purchases has halved. Instead, businesses plan to increase their investment in online channels like web (64%), apps (58%), social (52%) and third-party marketplaces (46%).

The study also points to the strategic importance of businesses having their own e-commerce websites, and that while many businesses have been able to get by offering the bare minimum, COVID-19 shines a spotlight on the gaping holes in most retailers’ commerce strategies. 

For the study, Forrester surveyed 640 consumers and B2B customers who make online purchases for their organizations and 320 digital experience and e-commerce decision makers at B2C and B2B businesses selling through their own online channels in the United States, the UK, and Germany to evaluate the state of commerce experience. Forrester collected this data in March. As COVID-19 became a concern in April, Forrester re-contacted 315 consumers and B2B customers and 50 businesses selling online who participated in the original survey to ask about changes in their behaviors and priorities.