How to adapt to changing consumer behaviour

3 minute read

COVID-19 has shifted, and will continue to shift, consumer behaviour in profound ways. To survive, merchants must be ready to evolve.

In June, Canada Post commissioned a survey1 of 3,000 online shoppers to learn how consumer behaviour has shifted due to COVID-19. The results revealed changes that are likely here for the long haul. Here’s what you need to do to manage customers’ new expectations and behaviour:

  1. Double down on e-commerce operations and customer acquisition. Customers are more open to shopping online with new retailers. Now is the time to put everything you’ve got into customer acquisition for your e-commerce channel. Our study revealed that:
    31% shopped online with retailers they’d only ever shopped in-store.
    24% shopped with online retailers they’d never shopped with before.With more businesses going online, competition is fierce. You need to stand out to compete. Ensure your website is easy for shoppers to navigate and browse and that customers can easily check your policies. The goal is to provide shoppers with a positive experience that will convert them into customers.
  2. Let customers know about your Canadian roots. One of the biggest shifts that has taken place recently began before the pandemic. Canadians have become increasingly supportive of Canadian retailers – and not just with words, but with their pocketbooks. Our study revealed that:
    49% online shoppers chose one retailer over another because the company was Canadian-based.

    This means that now is a great time to seek out Canadian customers.

    Ensure you prominently showcase your Canadian roots across your communications.

Read more inspiring e-commerce stories like this one in the latest issue of Delivering The Online World magazine.

Download now
  1. Offer free shipping to your customers. In the end, there’s no way around it. Free shipping wins the day. Our study revealed that:
    74% chose one retailer over another because they offered free shipping.A common misconception is that free shipping means free for every purchase. However, providing free shipping with a minimum threshold will motivate shoppers to increase their cart size to obtain the freebie. It’s a win for your customers and a way for you to increase the all-important average order size.
  2. Manage consumers’ expectations. It’s important to clearly communicate what customers can expect from you when it comes to your shipping policy, returns policy and delivery timelines – including any expected delays. This is especially important during COVID-19 as a result of lingering uncertainty and stiff competition. Our study revealed that:
    64% picked one retailer over another because of its flexible returns policy (either allowing returns by mail or in-store and/or extending the returns period).
    70% don’t mind waiting longer for purchases if they’re given an accurate delivery date upfront.
    72% agree that they’re more accepting of delivery delays when the tracking is up to date.Be transparent in your communications. Don’t give shoppers a reason to choose another retailer.
  3. Give shoppers the options they want. Now more than ever, shoppers want choices – especially when it comes to their transactions. A good example is how they will receive their order. Try to offer a choice of delivery options – like curbside and in-store pickup. And if you can sell on more than one channel, do so. Compared to before the pandemic, over the next few months:
    38% of online shoppers who have done curbside or in-store pickup plan on doing it more.
    29% who have previously shopped online for delivery plan on doing it more.Look for ways you can add convenient, customer-facing options. For example, many stores have begun offering local delivery.

1 Canada Post. 2020 Spring Survey, 20-208, June 2020.

Never miss an issue!

Subscribe to Delivering The Online World magazine. We’ll deliver it to your door or your inbox.