How Global Buying Habits Are Changing due to COVID-19 Pandemic


Salesforce announced its Q1 Shopping Index, powered by Commerce Cloud, which analyzes data from the activity of over 1 billion global shoppers. The following unique insights show how global buying habits are changing as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic and stay-at-home orders.

Initial data and analysis suggest that we’re still in the early stages of shifting to a new normal, and we expect continued increases in digital commerce as more people look online to fulfill their needs. While digital commerce saw a surge in traffic and sales, this likely won’t account for the significant decrease in brick-and-mortar sales that brands and retailers are experiencing.

Key Insights from the Q1 Shopping Index include:

Ecommerce demand rises as brick-and-mortar traffic flatlines: Ecommerce revenue in Q1 2020 grew 20%, compared to 12% growth in Q1 2019, including 16% web traffic growth and 4% shopper spend growth (reflects average amount spent by shoppers per visi). We expect this will continue as companies double down on digital.

Essential goods purchases turn digital: Shelter-in-place policies triggered a spike in digital demand for essential goods including food, personal care items and more. Between March 10th and March 20th, as the majority of the world was put under shelter-in-place guidelines, digital purchases for essential goods surged 200% and remained elevated for the rest of the quarter.

Pick up in store brings convenience and safety for consumers: Sites offering buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) grew digital revenue by 27% in Q1, compared with 13% for sites not offering BOPIS. Between March 10th and March 20th, digital revenue for sites offering BOPIS — via curbside, car, drive through, or store pickup — grew by 92% compared to 19% for sites not offering BOPIS over the same time period.

Shoppers in COVID-19 hotspots turn to digital channels for essentials: Between March 10th and March 20th, shoppers in New York increased digital spend on essentials by 158%. California shoppers increased their spend by 230%, Washington state by 157%, and Louisiana by 167% during the same time period.

Home Goods, Active Apparel, Toys & Games see large digital spikes: Consumers continued to make purchases for non-essential goods, even while stocking up on the essentials. Digital revenue grew by 51% for the Home Goods industry (like home decor and crafts), 31% YoY increase for Active Apparel (like athleisure), and a 34% YoY increase for Toys and Games.

Brands and retailers increase discounts to drive sales: Discount rates in the U.S. surged to 34% in mid-March — higher than even the average 31% discount rate consumers enjoyed over Cyber Monday.

US consumers shift peak buying times: Browsing and buying patterns show that US consumers spend less time online during the evening hours. Typically, visits and orders peak at 7 pm, but amidst the pandemic, consumer activities peak at 9 am.


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