Future e-commerce purchases likely to increase in the coming month, with new demands on merchants

As partial lockdowns across Europe are extended, the corona-outbreak continues to have an impact on the way people live and consume. We already know how consumer behavior has changed over the past two weeks – read about it in our blog about past consumer behavior here. But what does the near future hold for e-commerce? It’s the question on every merchant’s and e-commerce professional’s mind. Keep reading for a detailed forecast of consumer behavior in the next month. 

Which products will consumers buy more or less of in the coming month? 

The infographic above shows consumers’ recent change in category behavior, measured as the actual change in purchase volume since the Corona outbreak, on the vertical axis. This data is contrasted to the expected future change in category behavior, measured as consumers’ intended change in purchases looking one month ahead, on the horizontal axis.

As might have been expected, purchases within ‘Food and Groceries’ and ‘Health and Health Food products’ have increased dramatically since the Corona outbreak. According to AfterPay Insights research, these categories will continue to increase in the coming month based on consumer projections.

And in line with the alarm bells ringing in the news, purchases within ’Travel and transportation’ and ’Tickets’ have displayed a significant decrease since the Corona outbreak, and consumers intend to continue consuming even less in these categories in the coming month.

The increase in online purchases for the categories ’Hardware and building materials’ and ’Home decorations & furniture’ is also interesting. This can be explained by (partial) lock-downs and people spending more time at home during the corona outbreak. But consumers’ future projections of purchases within in these categories are pointing towards a decline. Consumers also indicate a decreased intention to shop for ’Gardening tools’ in the future, but this reduction will probably be compensated as we move closer to summer.

Moving in the other direction, the ’Cosmetics & Beauty’ along with ’Fashion’ categories experienced a dip in purchases since the Corona outbreak. But in relation to the other categories, this looks like a temporary decline since consumers intend to increase their purchases in these categories in the month to come.

Who will buy more or less in the coming month?

Looking at the current situation, half of all shoppers claim they will continue to purchase online to the same extent in the coming month. A quarter of consumers say they will buy more while 19 percent say they will buy less. The remaining 6 percent are unsure about their future purchases.

In the Netherlands and Germany, a larger share of consumers claim they will increase their purchases compared to decrease their purchases. But in Norway, the share of consumers claiming they will increase their purchases is more or less the same as the share that claim they will buy less.

If we isolate the ones that have decreased their online purchases in the past, these will buy even less in the coming month. And consumers that have increased their online purchases since the corona outbreak claim they will increase their purchases even further in the month to come.

A majority of consumers that up to this point have displayed an unchanged purchase behavior, claim that they will not change their behavior looking forward. However, in this group, the share that claim they will increase their purchases in the coming month is larger than the share that claim they will decrease their purchases.

Increased consumer demand on fulfillment and delivery 

In general, consumers say the most important aspects for choosing a webshop are previous experience with the webshop, that they perceive the webshop as secure and that the webshop offers the lowest price.

But consumers who intend to increase their online purchases in the coming month - 25% of consumers, demand even more from webshops when it comes to fast delivery time, flexible return options, display of in-stock information, reliable delivery and a wide range of products.

What is next?

Coming up next, we’ll take you through country deep dives in consumer behavior in The Netherlands, Germany and Norway since the corona outbreak. In addition, we’ll deep dive even further into consumers’ changing demands, and how merchants can adapt to this ‘new normal’.