To understand the near-term pandemic as well as the long-term impact of the pandemic on consumer preferences, the study assessed responses of 436 salaried professionals of different age-groups, gender and cities whose incomes were not affected by the outbreak of COVID-19. The survey traced the transformation of their shopping experience at each stage of their purchase journey during the pandemic.
- The pre-purchase i.e. the consideration stage has prolonged considerably as the consumer gives much more thought before making the actual purchase.
- Electronics, cosmetics, and home appliances witnessed a shift in buying behavior with approximately 40% of customers preferring to buy online
- Less than 20% of customers still value in-store experiences to purchase jewelry, automobiles and furniture
Shashank Shwet, Partner – Design Thinking and Digital Transformation, EY India, said, “As health and safety continues to be a priority during the ongoing pandemic, these uncertain times have brought newfound innovation as retailers rethink their business operations and invest in technology in order to adapt to their new normal as well as enhance the shopping experience. Smart technology solutions have been helping retailers maintain hygiene, provide contact-less shopping, introduce new sanitization practices and even expand to e-commerce to help customers several ways to shop and order deliveries at their convenience.”
Customers plan the items they wish to purchase before visiting shops and would rather prefer a shop in their locality over a mall.
- Three out of four customers would avoid crowded places.
- 67% of them showed unwillingness to travel beyond 5 km.
- Nearly 50% customers have switched from their preferred shops to new grocery stores even as factors like proximity, availability, variety, safety and hygiene take precedence
“There is a significant change in consumer behavior that is impacting how purchase decisions are made and altering the retail shopping experience. This is a double win for retailers, compelling them to deploy emerging technologies to increase the efficiency of operations in the short term and enable sustainable cost savings across the value chain in the long-run.” added Pinakiranjan Mishra, Sector Leader, Consumer Products and Retail, EY India.
With the onset of COVID-19, customers are looking for efficient ways of shopping as they want to limit their exposure outside the sanctuary of their homes to protect themselves from the pandemic. Given that majority of the customers are neither willing to enter the store nor comfortable spending more than 30 minutes inside the store, the entire in-store shopping experience that might have been therapeutic for some has instead become a cause of anxiety. While the concern to limit contact with others is driven by the pandemic, point of purchase and delivery are quick wins in the contactless technology implementation plans.
- 76% customers want their purchases to be sanitized again at the point of purchase
- 76% customers prefer to pay via UPI or digital wallets
- 78% customers would prefer to use self-checkout kiosks.