It’s no question the global coronavirus pandemic has had and will continue to have lasting effects on how consumers shop.
But new research from Euromonitor International illustrates just how much consumers have come to rely on technology in the face of government-mandated lockdowns and a personal desire to minimize contact with other people.
For its recent Digital Consumer Survey, Euromonitor surveyed 20,000 consumers across 20 countries in March and April, when COVID-19 cases began to peak — at least initially, in the United States — and governments first instituted lockdowns.
Euromonitor found just over a third (35 percent) of consumers prefer contactless in-store shopping features. While the pandemic drove greater interest in contactless payment, ordering and delivering, consumers said they want to see more scan-as-you-go and walk-in, walk-out technologies.
Not only do these technologies minimize contact with in-store employees, it also allows for shorter trips, and by extension, less opportunity for coronavirus transmission. Euromonitor noted convenience stores already had started offering “tech-forward” checkout experiences, but it’s likely other retail channels will begin to incorporate them as well.
Additionally, Euromonitor reported 31 percent of connected consumers buy food and beverages on a smartphone, 21 percent on a computer, 12 percent on a tablet and 7 percent on another device. Nonetheless, 50 percent of global consumers execute payment for these food and beverage purchases through a mobile app.
As consumers buy groceries online, the biggest concern is out-of-stock inventory. While this was particularly exacerbated at the start of the pandemic, syncing in-store inventory management systems with their ecommerce operations will remain a challenge as more consumers turn to click-and-collect shopping.
Respondents were also asked about restaurant delivery and takeaway, two methods that buoyed dining establishments when governments shut down eat-in traffic.
Almost half of connected consumers ordered takeaway or delivery on a smartphone (48 percent), while 42 percent ordered in person at the restaurant. Whether ordering at home, on the go, or at a physical outlet, 57 percent of connected consumers used a mobile app, and 40 percent used a mobile website, to pay for an order.
While many U.S. states and countries have begun to resume eat-in dining at half or quarter capacity, the convenience — and safety — of takeaway and delivery will likely continue to appeal to consumers.
Since this survey was conducted at the beginning of the pandemic, it would be interesting to see how results compare in a few months and a year from now. Will consumers try to resume pre-pandemic habits as much as possible? Or will the security and safety of their homes drive them even more toward online food purchasing? Only time will tell.