~10% of consumers start buying online during the past year but they are much less satisfied and 1 in 3 have concerns about the online purchase process

Over the past six months we see that the share of online purchases (of the total of all purchases) increases. Loyalty to online channels is high, staying strong even though lockdown measures show signs of easing. Another key driver for the growth of e commerce in the past year is the inflow of consumers to online channels. In that perspective, how much terrain is there still to win for merchants? What are the key drivers and barriers for New Online Shoppers (consumers who have entered e-commerce in the past year) to shop online (more) in 2021? And do these differ for Existing Online Shoppers? How satisfied are New Online Shoppers with their first e-commerce experiences? A positive experience is essential as this is a big factor in New Online Shoppers’ future purchasing behavior – a positive experience increases the likelihood of a New Online Shopper coming back, ultimately becoming a Existing Online Shopper in the longer run.

However, our results indicate that New Online Shoppers (~10% of all consumers) are actually much less satisfied than Existing Online Shoppers. This is probably due to the fact that New Online Shoppers have ‘offline’ expectations of the online experience – this is a clear mismatch that merchants need to be aware of. Which aspects do merchants need to improve to bind New Online Shoppers to them, and how can they keep Existing Online Shoppers’ loyalty and retention rates high? Keep reading to find out!

~10% of consumers start buying online during the past year; ~5% of consumers left to attract

We see that around ~93% of consumers in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway have shopped online, with the global pandemic most likely being a key contributing factor in the growth of around +10% of the consumer base in the past year. Note that the underlying consumer survey is based on web-based interviews, which means that the few percent non-internet users are not part of the target group.



In the Netherlands, 92% of consumers aged 18 and above shop online – some more, some less. This ‘online shopper base’ can be broken down into Existing Online Shoppers (81%, shopped online more than a year) and New Online Shoppers (11%, started shopping online in the past year). In Germany, a total of 95% of consumers shop online – some more, some less. This ‘Online Shopper Base’ can be broken down into Existing Online Shoppers (85%, shopped online more than a year) and New Online Shoppers (10%, started shopping online in the past year). And in Norway, a total of 93% of the population shop online – some more some less. Here, the ‘online shopper base’ can be broken down into 85% who are Existing Online Shoppers and 8% New Online Shoppers.

These numbers also indicate that there is still potential for the online shopper base to grow: 4% of the Dutch population has not yet started buying online but they can consider doing so. Adding up the Existing, New and Potential Online Shoppers, this sums up to a maximum online reach of 96% of consumers in the Netherlands. In Germany and Norway the corresponding share of max online reach is 97%.

New Online Shoppers have yet to discover the convenience of shopping online

To get a clear view on what drives New Online Shoppers and Existing Online Shoppers to online channels, we focus our analysis on the differences and similarities between New Online Shoppers (started buying online within the past year) and Existing Online Shoppers (have shopped online more than a year). And we find a similar pattern in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway: as a consumer buys more online, convenience becomes an increasingly important driver to shop online even more. As we can assume that the majority of New Online Shoppers have been ‘pushed’ to switch consumption from brick-and-mortar stores to online during the past year , this finding is to be expected. Besides the convenience aspects of online shopping, the fact that lower prices are accessible online is also an important driver for both New and Existing Online Shoppers to shop online.

1 in 3 New Online Shoppers state that concerns about the ‘purchase process’ hold them back from increasing their online shopping

Our results indicate that – for New Online Shoppers – concerns around the online purchase process/security and delivery are the main aspects holding consumers back from increasing online purchases. Being new to the online shopping experience, New Online Shoppers find the purchase process to be complicated and have security concerns both related to payment and product delivery. This is the case in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway. This aspect is the main differentiating factor for New Online Shoppers when compared to Existing Online Shoppers. Both groups attach approximately the same value to the barriers ‘physical stores have better prices/assortment and service’ and ‘concerns about products not living up to expectations’. A barrier that is of similarly low importance is the concern about overconsumption.

New Online Shoppers have ‘offline expectations’, leading them to be less satisfied

When it comes to how satisfied New and Existing Online Shoppers are with merchants’ performance, we see big differences between the two groups, which are visualized in below graph. 

A first obvious conclusion is that New Online Shoppers are significantly less satisfied than Existing Online Shoppers – likely due to the fact that they enter the online shopping experience with ‘offline expectations’. It is more difficult for merchants to live up to these very different expectations, hence the lower satisfaction rates for New Online Shoppers.

For New Online Shoppers to become more satisfied, and make repeat purchases, merchants need to improve the accessibility of products and delivery speed. In addition, merchants should better manage New Online Shoppers’ expectations with regards to the online purchase process, security and delivery.

What is next?

Coming soon is AfterPay Insights’ monthly forecast for May. Stay with us!