Change of habits: putting the customer back at the heart of the purchasing journey


By Margot Bonhomme, Marketing Manager @Botfuel - October 27, 2020

2020 isn’t over yet. That said, we can already say that it will mark a turning point, both in the daily life of customers and their consumption habits. Different trends have emerged in recent years (environmental awareness, fast shipping, etc.). They have been accentuated by recent events. The lockdown has also revealed and/or accelerated new sectors. E-commerce is one of them. Consumers have discovered their love for online shopping. First-time buyers increased by 40%. Industry-wide turnover increased by 11.6% and amounted to 103.4 billion in 2019. Transactions increased as well by 15.7% and amounted to 1.7 billion.

The standard has evolved. So have the consumption habits. E-commerce is changing the way we consume, but nothing says this trend will continue. Marketers need to take buyer's perspective into account and keep in mind the impact e-shoppers can have on their business. Faced with increasing competition and higher customer expectations, e-merchants face many challenges. But concretely, what does this mean?

E-commerce state of affairs

The sector is doing well! Online sales crossed the 100 billion euros mark in 2019. It increased by 11.6% in a single year. A slight decrease compared to the previous year - around 13% - but volume is increasing every year. According to the Fevad, e-commerce “maintains its dynamism, driven by the digital transformation of companies, the development of new services, and the growth of products from the circular economy.”

The love for online shopping is homogeneous across the country: 80% of French people have already made an online purchase. Consumers are asking for more for services, which represent 56% of purchases, rather than products (44%).

In addition to the development of the online offer, the use of mobile phones is acting as the growth vector for the sector. “This growth is also benefiting from the increase in the use of smartphones, which offer consumers the possibility of preparing, ordering, and monitoring their purchases on the go” comments Fevad. Sales grew by 18%. Four times faster than that of its overall index. M-commerce was therefore valued at more than 40 billion euros in France in 2019 and is projected to pass the 50 billion mark by the end of 2020.

It remains to be seen, however, whether consumers will continue to have confidence in brands, whether or not they go to stores during this period with Covid-19 remaining very present.

A strong need for emotion

In addition to the current context, which has undermined forecasts, the growth of e-commerce is based on various factors. According to a study conducted by InsightNow, the main motivation - for 42% of respondents - is to satisfy an emotional need. Yet many marketers are still focused on creating campaigns that appeal to rational buying needs. Emotion must be put back at the heart of marketing strategies and the customer experience.

Emotion can be influenced by many factors. The values the company upholds, their brand image, the experience customers have with it, or even interactions through various communication channels. Customers then develop a relationship with the brand. It can be negative or positive. The goal is to create an emotion - as positive as possible - to incetivise a purchase.

Emotion also plays a critical role in loyalty. By creating a relationship based on emotions, customers will develop an attachment to the brand. They’ll anchor their "collaboration" over time. This is why many brands are taking advantage of their long experience in sales in the physical world and bringing it online. People are motivated by the expertise and language of sellers to develop a human relationship with visitors, far from the faceted sanitized research of e-commerce sites. Because if there is one element that is at the center of human exchanges, which is sorely lacking in e-commerce, it is conversation.


Environmental impact: a new obstacle to purchasing?

E-commerce has never been accused of being a big polluter. On the contrary, many people think they pollute less by not taking the car to go shopping in stores. A website does not require heating or air conditioning, no showcase lit 24 hours a day to please night passers-by ... Could this, therefore, be the holy grail that industries are looking for?

Unfortunately, no.

E-commerce pollutes. Topping the list, Amazon. The mascot of polluting e-merchants, it is the target of numerous blockades and associations which “accuse it of having a disastrous effect on the climate, particularly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.” Climate impact of servers still uncertain, half-empty packages, express and excessive deliveries… "25% of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the manufacture and transport of electronic and textile products" explains journalist Sophie Gauthier. Black Friday represents one million packages delivered, and this only in Paris.

This is why some people are backtracking. According to the latest OpinionWay study, 69% are considering consuming more responsibly and differently. In search of value and engagement rather than discount and speed, they are abandoning e-commerce. They want more than just a business exchange. Brands must therefore respond to these changes and invest in a customer experience focused on people and their values.

Customer experience and a purchase journey designed for the end-user will allow you not only to acquire more customers, but also retain them while reducing your costs:

  • Optimize your product sheets as much as possible to avoid returns
  • Use your packages as marketing materials and gain visibility
  • Make your customers aware of the fact that the delivery of small quantities pollutes by advising them to group their purchases to increase the cart value
  • Make your customers aware of the fact that express delivery pollutes to avoid excessive returns of packages

Know that a website displaying its values ​​will always be privileged in the eyes of customers. For the planet as well as for your sales, taking an ecological path is a promising project for your teams.

During the COVID period, consumers move away from stores

The lockdown has done well for the consumers’ wallets. 58% have reduced their spending. These consumption habits are popular and are therefore unlikely to change quickly. 41% are convinced that it will take time to regain their habits. 25% even think of giving up some. According to the new OpinionWay study, 23% of French people will now favor online shopping for their food shopping. Even if they eventually return to the store, many people will not do so out of the goodness of their hearts: 47% believe they are part of the populations at risk. Going to the store to buy necessities now worries some consumers.

Brands must therefore review existing models if they want to continue to seduce their audience. There is trust to be restored between physical stores and customers. At Botfuel we advocate an omnichannel strategy where each channel has its place. In order to adapt to new post-quarantine consumption habits, brands can offer different services, such as click-and-collect or ship-from-store to bring the product closer to the customer. Marketplaces are also doing well. They are now effective alternatives to visiting shopping centers.

These changes have brought new challenges to e-commerce teams: longer delivery times, more frequent cart abandonment, increased traffic, etc. 85% have had longer delivery times and 29% of them have recorded cancellations of orders. However, many have been able to adapt quickly and offer services in line with the context, both global and individual. To compensate for the closure of relay points, ⅓ of the websites offered free or reduced delivery fees. Also, the majority propose extended return windows.

E-merchants have quickly adapted to the situation and the new habits of their customers. Ecology, Click & Collect, and Emotion are part of the solution. Customers are more and more demanding. To understand their wants and make them come back, it is important to personalize!

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