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Survey: Bored customers help drive e-commerce during COVID-19

Online retailers seeking to engage customers in the COVID-19 pandemic may want to tailor messaging around boredom and savings.

According to data collected from more than 1,500 U.S. online shoppers in early 2020 (pre-pandemic) and April 2020 (mid-pandemic) by online fulfillment provider Dotcom Distribution, necessity, savings, boredom, and charity are driving online sales during pandemic. Respondents were instructed to disregard purchases of groceries, medicine, cleaning supplies, and similar essential items throughout the mid-COVID-19 survey.

About one-quarter (26%) of online shoppers reported making more online purchases out of boredom. A similar percentage (24%) of respondents reported making purchases because of great deals; leading this trend is the 18-29 age group, 35% of whom said savings motivated online purchases.

Thirteen percent of respondents reported making a point to purchase products that support charitable initiatives. About six in 10 (58%) reported purchasing items online that they normally would in-store.

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Half (51%) respondents reported they have done more online shopping than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic. Women (54%) reported doing more online shopping during the pandemic than men (49%). In another demographic trend, younger consumers more often reported an increase in online shopping during the pandemic; this trend declined as age advanced. About two-thirds (64%) of 18-29-year-olds, 56% of 30-44-year-olds, 48% of 45-60-year-olds, and 39% of respondents over 60 said they are shopping online more during the pandemic.

The survey also examined how respondents replaced shopping on Amazon during its reduction in shipping non-essential items. Sixty-five percent of respondents reported purchasing from major retailers, 35% reported supporting local businesses with shoppers over 60 most frequently reporting doing so (47%), and 31% reported purchasing directly from brands led by 18-29-year-olds (43%).
Most consumers expect online shopping frequency to remain unchanged or increase post-pandemic, as 45% of respondents don’t expect their shopping habits to change long-term and 31% expect to make more online purchases than they did before COVID-19 in the long-term.

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