As the pandemic continues to force consumers to cancel late summer plans and spend more time at home, a new survey from e-commerce tech experience company Nosto shows that many consumers are turning to e-commerce sites both for design inspiration and buying.

According to Nosto’s recent survey, 63% of U.S. consumers reported that pandemic lockdowns have motivated them to spend money on making their living environment more comfortable and fun.

Nearly half (47%) noted they have been inspired by seeing inside other people’s homes in video calls, and 51% felt embarrassed by the look of their own homes during video calls.

The result is that 66% of consumers surveyed realize that having a nice home environment is crucial, and 65% say they have made at least one online purchase for their home during the stay-at-home period.

According to the same data, consumer demand in home purchases will likely continue beyond the stay-at-home time as well, with 63% of those questioned  reporting that they are motivated to spend money on improving their living environment and 64% expecting to be spending more time in their homes or gardens even after COVID-19 orders have completely lifted.

At Wayfair, pages of backordered products tell a story of increased demand and, of course, some supply issues.

“The second quarter was a very strong period for Wayfair,” said Niraj Shah, CEO, co-founder and co-chairman of the e-commerce giant. “Our strategic long-term investments positioned us well to serve our customers and to quickly adapt during a challenging time. We experienced unprecedented demand in Q2 and saw record numbers of new and repeat customers choose Wayfair.”

And that choice shows in Wayfair’s second quarter earnings, released earlier this month, which showed a total net revenue increase of $2 billion to $4.3 billion, up 83.7% year-over-year.

Woodrow Plunkett, managing partner at MGBlair, an outdoor hospitality brand, said that business being done by the brands his company works with as a third-party logistics source dramatically rose during COVID-19.

“In the past two weeks, we’ve seen online sales increase close to tenfold,” said Plunkett. “It has just gone through the roof with our brands that sell D2C online on places like Amazon.”

That may be because Amazon seems to be where most consumers are doing their product research for home and garden products, with 67% of those surveyed reporting that they visit Amazon when looking for new products, followed by Google at 60% and YouTube at 51%.

Other top online channels for consumer research included online retailers, 35%; Facebook, 37%; Instagram, 29%; Pinterest, 29%; and online magazines and blogs, 18%.

“The pandemic is making people re-evaluate their lifestyles completely, and this survey underlines how turning their house into a home is now a major priority for many,” said Jake Chatt, Nosto’s head of brand marketing.

“As demand for these goods continues to increase and shopping in physical stores remains scarce in many places across the globe, I think home and garden retailers need to be building trust with shoppers by optimizing their e-commerce experiences,” Chatt continued. “If they don’t, Amazon will continue dominating the vertical online, and many retailers may not make it to the other side of this.”

In the experience category of Nosto’s study, 24% of consumers indicated they would be more likely to buy Home & Garden products from an online store if they see clear messaging about the COVID-19 measures an online retailer has implemented to protect employees and customers.

To keep things clear, Debbie Green, a strategic marketing consultant and owner of Bringing In The Green, said, “My best advice is to spend a little additional time preparing messages.

“For example, one of my clients wanted to give back to our local community by sponsoring a food drive. Because that involved potentially multiple people handling food or being near each other, we spent much more time analyzing logistics and making sure the potential food drive donors knew we were being socially distant and following Center for Disease control guidelines.”

Free delivery at 60% and fast delivery at 53% were also factors that most consumers in the poll said would make them more likely to shop online.

Other important factors included positive reviews, 49%; quality images, 44%; free returns, 41%; and clear return policies, 40%.

Notably, free returns seemed less important than free deliveries, suggesting that shoppers find more value in no upfront shipping costs because once they have made the purchase they are confident they won’t be returning the product.

Nosto’s findings are based on a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, part of a wider study entitled “Home & Garden Goes Virtual.”

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