In its latest industry trend report based on the 2021 Consumer Insights Survey, Shopify India reveals changing consumer shopping preferences heading into the festive season. The Festive Shopping Outlook Report 2021 is aimed at studying the impact that multiple lockdowns, shifting retail landscapes and a struggling economy have had on consumer pockets and mindsets, highlighting the major trends that have emerged as a result of being in an uncertain, dynamic environment.
Heightened confidence in e-tailers waters down traditional advance festive shopping
The pull of last-minute discount deals along with short-lead/express delivery advantages offered by e-retailers have been instrumental in gaining consumer confidence. According to the report by Shopify India, 2 in 3 Indian shoppers had not started shopping for the festive season at the time of taking this survey. This is in sharp contrast to pre-pandemic traditional behaviours where festive shopping in India would kick off in full swing nearly a month in advance.
Smaller Indian cities emerge as key e-shopping growth hubs
Multiple factors such as India’s nationwide mobile penetration, brands opting to shift to a D2C model, enhanced last-mile delivery and customer-friendly return policies have been instrumental in bringing the millennial, non-metro shopper to opt for the digital medium. While online shopping – in the last decade – has largely been prevalent amongst consumers in Tier-I Indian metropolitan cities, the pandemic has accelerated and driven this growth up the charts in Tier-II cities and non-metros as well. According to Shopify’s Festive Shopping Outlook Report, 53.5% millennial shoppers from non-metros have displayed a strong preference to shop online.
Health & safety concerns push customers to adopt tech-enabled, family shopping experiences
Even with increased vaccinations, consumers are wary of offline/physical shopping and in-person interactions. Convenience, value for money and personalisation offered by online players has enhanced e-purchasing’s appeal. However, one thing remains the same – Indian shopping still continues to be a family affair! Half the respondents of the survey indicated that they will prefer involving their families even when shopping online during the festive season.
Local businesses to win big as consumers wake up to the advantages of shopping locally
Close to 58% respondents stated that they would prefer to support and shop from small online businesses during this year’s festive season. This is in sharp contrast to the usual skew towards high-end brands when it comes to gifting and festive shopping. Smaller retailers have managed to capture consumer attention and loyalty by offering a range of value-for-money options, along with individual attention and personalised experiences. These benefits, combined with the emotional pull that consumers feel towards extending support and encouragement to businesses that are fighting to survive, have been instrumental in driving e-sales at these small, local establishments.
Festive gifting gets utility-focused
Consumers are now leaning towards gifts with high functionality and utility value, as opposed to standard festive sweets or dry fruit tokens. Home confinements have led to consumers realising the need to constantly upgrade or enhance their abodes. It comes as no surprise that home décor and furnishings topped this year’s festive shopping lists with over 50% respondents displaying preference to spend on gifts under this category.
Big budgets parked for electronics, dimming the spotlight on jewellery
Despite being considered auspicious as well as status symbols, gold and precious metal jewellery which have been traditional festive gifting favourites seem to have fallen out of favour with Indian shoppers this year. The pandemic has inspired consumers to put their money where major dependencies lie; in tech gadgets. This festive season, electronic gadgets are all set to command maximum consumer gifting budgets with close to 42% respondents to Shopify’s survey showcasing increased propensity towards it. High-speed internet connections and a heightened need to stay connected have increased consumer reliance on gadgets. This has translated onwards onto a large proportion of downsized festive budgets being allocated to electronic products this year.
Consumer sentiment confirms that the online shopping boom is here to stay
According to Shopify India’s Festive Shopping Report 2021, 76.9% Indian consumers show deep inclination towards online shopping this festive season because of the convenience it offers. While traditionally festive shopping has been an offline retail activity, pandemic-induced restrictions put in place to contain the virus forced most retail activity to move online. A practice that many consumers have got familiar with and also appreciate for the bouquet of benefits it has to offer. However, this year, even with the lifting of most restrictions, high vaccinations rates and a lower COVID caseload in India, Shopify India has witnessed a continued preference for virtual retail.
Contactless spending set to dominate the future of payments
With the pandemic necessitating contactless payments and boosting cashless transactions, cash is no longer king in an economy which was previously heavily reliant on cash. Armed with the second-largest mobile-user base globally, India has transitioned into the e-payments era on the back of easy, convenient and accessible UPI payment options. Nearly 50% respondents surveyed by Shopify stated that they preferred to process payments via UPI as opposed to any other form of transaction. Interestingly, the preference remains consistent across both, online and offline shopping experiences.