Shopping Behaviors Rapidly Changing During COVID-19

Curbside grocery pickup, click and collect and other shopping solutions were already growing before COVID-19. As an example, much of Walmart’s eCommerce growth has been driven by grocery pickup sales. With the onset of physical distancing, usage of these services has skyrocketed. Apptopia reports that average daily downloads on March 15 compared to February were up significantly for Instacart (+218%), Walmart Grocery (+160%) and Shipt (+124%). These are big numbers for the immediate and near term, but how much of those increases in downloads and usage will stay? Also, which shoppers are responsible for these big jumps in usage?

Taking a look at the trends in China, which is several weeks or more ahead of most other markets, indicates how these trends might continue post-COVID-19 quarantine in the U.S. Many of the new shoppers on these grocery pickup and delivery services were older shoppers adopting new technology during the pandemic. Retailers in China have launched features catering to these older demographics. Their goal is to encourage continued use so that these usage behaviors become ingrained.

As retailers prepare for increased usage of pickup and delivery options during and after the pandemic, they should also consider who is using these services since the customer base is rapidly expanding. A recent survey found that 26% of online grocery delivery or pickup shoppers in March were first-time users, and that 39% of those ages 60 or older were first-time users.

In addition to the general audience expansion for these shopping options, the categories and products that are purchased through these services should expand as well. Some categories that had less usage in pickup may see enough growth due to the changing behaviors to make these options part of their future plans. As an example, some pet stores have expanded their pickup offerings and are seeing increased usage.

Shoppers are changing how they are getting their goods, and the increased time at home is accelerating these trends. Staying abreast of these changes gives brands an advantage over competitors that aren’t quickly shifting to shopper needs.

Contributed by: Kyle Judkins, Director of Insight & Strategy, Integer Dallas

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