The Covid-19 lockdown is introducing a new generation of consumers to online shopping and many retailers are having to adjust their focus to take advantage of digital sales.
“Many consumers who have never shopped online before have been forced into it during this lockdown,” says Chris Wilkinson, Managing Director of First Retail Group.
“This is creating a new wave of digital customers, a lot of who will continue shopping online even after the situations ends,” he says.
This is one of the factors that is set to change the future of online shopping for consumers and businesses.
“Businesses are being forced to rapidly increase their online fulfillment and respond to the digital demand that has arisen,” Wilkinson says.
The retail expert believes that as businesses improve their technology to cater to online retail, as well as cater to employees working from home, that will catapult New Zealand’s capabilities and innovation.
“New Zealand has lagged behind the UK and U.S. in recent years in terms of online technology, but we’ll jump to the stage of the UK very soon,” he says.
Retailers have already been called to action with the threat of overseas companies such as Amazon, but Kiwi businesses are now enhancing their technology rapidly during this lockdown.
“This lockdown is going to make Kiwi businesses think about themselves in a wider context.
“They used to just think about who is going to walk past my front door locally, but smarter retailers have already considered themselves global and embraced digital tech,” he says.
A report by Nielsen research has also highlighted the opportunity for retailers to use this as a catalyst to grow their e-commerce.
“This new wave of e-commerce growth for the grocery sector presents an opportunity for retailers that have been waiting for online penetration to be high enough to justify the cost of investment in systems, additional vehicles and other logistical upgrades,” the report said.
Mass consumerism has also been predicted to decline and Wilkinson believes the lockdown will have a long-term impact on shopping habits.
“We will see less focus on mass consumerism.
“People will be thinking about the environmental footprint this event has had and they will want to buy things that are better quality that last longer.
“It’s a time for recalibration and a shift in business and consumer habits,” he said.
Consumer habits have already seen a shift with families baking more at home, which has dramatically increased the demand for flour and baking products at supermarkets.
“After lockdown ends there will be cautious consumers who have been affected by this crisis in terms of employment and investment declines.
“People also won’t be traveling either, so the money they have from not spending will be used for baking from scratch, entertaining at home and enriching their living environments.
“Therefore, gourmet food stores will see an increase in demand as people want better quality food to cook at home instead of going out.
“Those habits will be sustained for a long period of time,” Wilkinson said.