Now that it feels as though we’ve moved through the worst of the pandemic—global lockdowns, and no vaccines yet—we may all be left wondering how life has changed, in both the small ways, and through the big differences. So how has the pandemic impacted online retail growth, and what does this mean for expectations surrounding delivery?
How has the pandemic changed online growth?
The graph depicts growth rates for the years of 2019, 2020, and 2021, taken from IMRG’s digital dashboard. The data represents how much growth rates have been impacted by national lockdowns, and changing consumer attitudes. We can see that in 2019, growth was steady, and positive, as it climbed throughout the year. Pureplay retailers (those only selling online) saw +9.88% growth rate overall, whilst multichannel (those selling online and in stores) saw +7.47%. This is considered a relatively normal rate of growth for both types of retailer.
YoY Percentage Revenue Growth Rate
However when we look at 2020, when the pandemic reached the UK (the dashboard reflecting UK sales data), growth soared, as retail overall experience a huge boom, when lockdowns forced shoppers online. Much of this growth was within multichannel retail, as customers who were used to shopping in store were converted to the same online shops.
In 2021, growth saw a huge decline, as online retail failed to grow its revenue to the same extent as it had the year before. By April 2021, growth plummeted, when compared to the lockdown period of the year before. This was because shoppers were allowed to shop on the high street by mid-April, which drew sales away from online stores. In April 2022, we’ll be able to measure online growth normally again, no longer against the abnormal pandemic data.
What does this mean for delivery?
The main change for delivery has been in customer expectations, as shoppers want faster delivery to their homes. There was a significant increase in the number of consumers who expect same, and next-day delivery, as a result of the pandemic. Expectations for same day fulfilment increased seven-fold, and next day almost tripled. The pressure is on for retailers, as shopper expectations soar.
Think about when you place an online order. What is your expectation for how long standard delivery options should take to arrive?
In the same survey, we found that almost 90% of customers want their parcels delivered to their home address, likely due to the ease of delivery which services such as Amazon Prime have provided throughout the lockdowns. Delivery to work and click and collect has decreased as a result of consumers getting used to working from home, and leaving the house less.
What is now your most preferred delivery method online? (2021)
We can conclude that because the online retail market has grown so hugely during the pandemic, customer attitudes have changed for good. Therefore, to meet increased expectations, retailers must provide rapid home delivery—sometimes within the same day!