How has the pandemic changed the shopping habits of Poles?

Expert article based on the research and report “Omni-commerce. I buy conveniently 2021 ”. This is the sixth edition of the report of the Chamber of Electronic Economy, enriched with the impact of COVID-19 on the purchasing behavior of Poles.

The e-shopping revolution

84% of Internet users already buy online. This is another year where the percentage of online shoppers grows by over + 10pps.

Compared to the previous edition of the survey, i.e. until June 2020, e-shopping penetration increased from 72% to 84%, i.e. by + 12 pp. A year earlier, i.e. in June 2019, online purchases were declared by 57% of respondents. Moreover, 86% (+ 6 pp) of people who do not buy online use the web anyway to carry out various shopping-related activities, incl. searching for inspiration, opinions and information about products, searching for store locations and promotions. In the case of users of mobile devices, it is almost 100%.

For brands, this means that even if not all consumers buy online yet, 9 out of 10 will use devices with Internet access at some stage of the purchasing process, and often when looking for inspiration. So if you are not online, you make it much more difficult for consumers to choose your product.

What is more, consumers started to buy online more often – 59% of e-customers buy 2-5 times a month – and 7 out of 10 declare that their shopping carts are not smaller than before in the stationary channel. Probably such results – that is, higher frequency of purchases – had a key influence on purchases in such categories as food, cosmetics and hygiene products, which require frequent, systematic and usually planned purchases.

In turn, valuable shopping baskets are often those in which there are, for example, laptops necessary for remote work and learning, as well as interior items.

The interest in shopping via the Internet is constantly growing – currently 84% of Internet users do it. Such a result in the report, Omni-commerce. I buy conveniently 2021 ”shows that the trend towards online shopping continues and the consumer’s preferences to buy quickly, easily and conveniently have not changed. Moreover, the report shows that returning to life after a pandemic will not change that. The conclusions of the report are also a clear signal for businesses where to look for a consumer – in e-commerce.” – says Patrycja Sass-Staniszewska, president of the Chamber of Electronic Economy.

New customers, new requirements

What does such growth mean for e-commerce? Lots of changes and increased consumer expectations. First of all, the group of e-shoppers was joined by a lot of people from groups that had so far resisted online shopping.

This applies in particular to Poles aged 55+. These consumers are quite tolerant of some e-commerce shortcomings with a pandemic, such as extended delivery or reduced availability of certain products, but do not accept if e-shop does not offer payment and delivery methods that are convenient for them. When it comes to payment methods, on the one hand, it will be payment on delivery, and on the other hand, BLIK or a quick transfer that this group quickly got used to.

In the context of delivery, the e-shop must offer not only the courier option, but also a safe one
and contactless delivery to collection points, e.g. parcel machines. Mature consumers are very pragmatic – they quickly learn new solutions and expect the same from such a dynamic part of the market as e-commerce.

Due to the pandemic, some consumers, so far distrustful of online shopping, decided to take the first step in the reality of e-commerce. As shown by the high rise in online shoppers, their former fears are now forgotten. The changes caused by the pandemic also apply to payments. Users of online stores more often than in previous years chose a quick transfer or BLIK rather than payment on delivery. In this way, they avoided direct contact with the courier or seller at the parcel pickup point. It seems that several months of the pandemic is enough time for new purchasing and payment habits to become established. We can expect that in the next step, customers will be more willing to use modern payment methods, such as P24NOW” – says Magdalena Grablewska, Marketing Manager of Przelewy24.

What you also need to pay attention to with such a large influx of new e-customers, not only from the mature group, is that certain solutions that may be logical and natural for regular users may be difficult for new users. At this point, the UX (user experience) area and designing consumer-friendly solutions are becoming key, as well as tracking their activities on the site and providing assistance when needed.

As shown by the results of the study” What (u) bites e-commerce? ” from February this year, which we also carried out together with the Chamber of Electronic Economy, over 80% of Polish internet users have various difficulties with using e-shops. Most often it concerns the stage before the purchase, i.e. searching, comparing and selecting products. Choosing a delivery or making a payment is a much smaller problem. Especially in the latter area, Poland is quite advanced and stores offer a wide selection of various payment methods, mainly those most liked by Polish consumers, such as quick transfers or BLIK. ” – says Katarzyna Czucha-Łagód, Managing Director of the Mobile Institute research company, the researcher of the “Omni-commerce. He buys conveniently. “

Where to shop online?

Poles like to buy in proven places. Probably for this reason, this year, as in the previous year, they most often buy brands that they know and value on shopping platforms and in online stores. What has changed this year is the increased interest of Internet users in places such as price comparison websites (25%, + 9 pp) and newspaper websites (16%, + 10 pp), where they can “hunt” something at attractive prices or conveniently compare products available in different places and choose the optimal option, often cheaper than others. Such behavior, i.e. greater price sensitivity of consumers, is quite natural in times of high uncertainty.

Another phenomenon that can also be attributed to the pandemic is – also clearly visible this year – the limitation by consumers of spending on investment and whimsical purchases, although it must be admitted that now 40% of respondents who have imposed such a budget regime on themselves are already returning to their previous intentions and started purchasing processes.

Nevertheless, it is becoming extremely important to offer consumers also low-budget products or facilitate shopping, e.g. through deferred payments. It is worth remembering that the purchase decision in the case of Polish consumers is made most often, and this year even more often, when comparing prices (45%, + 11pp).

Poles really liked online shopping, if they had not used it before – in 2020 they became convinced of it. I can say with full responsibility that some of them will definitely stay with this way of shopping. The consumer invariably expects a wide and affordable offer, convenient and fast shopping and transaction security. These aspects are always our ultimate goal, which guides every, even the smallest, improvement introduced on Allegro. If we have a wide offer, at the best prices, with same or next day delivery, a customer who has already experienced the convenience of online shopping will come back to us, while encouraging their loved ones to do so.” – says Dagmara Brzezińska, Commercial Category Management Director at Allegro.

Where to shop after the pandemic?

At the time of the study (May 2021), the process of unfreezing the economy after another lockdown. Therefore, there was a certain sentiment towards brick-and-mortar stores. 40% of respondents (compared to 17% a year earlier) indicated it as their favorite shopping destination.

However, this does not stop consumers from shopping online, and even a smaller percentage of respondents indicates the so-called the ROPO effect, i.e. the information found online encourages them to visit a brick-and-mortar store.

Such behavior is confirmed by 41% of respondents, but it is only by + 2 pp. more than a year ago and, in general, there is a clear downward trend – from 77% in 4 years. 33% of respondents buy the same brand in many channels, e.g. online and offline. Here, in turn, we have a decrease from 43% a year ago and 54% 2 years ago.

So you can see that consumers specialize and will buy wherever they are comfortable. This again highlights the need for e-stores to ensure the usability and user-friendliness of their websites and the payment and delivery methods offered, the lack of which is the most common reason for abandoning online shopping carts.

Poles eagerly returned to stationary stores. This year, 41% of respondents chose it as their favorite shopping destination. This is a significant 17p.p. increase compared to 2020. At the same time, we observe a growing share of Internet users who started shopping online during the pandemic. Therefore, now more than ever, business owners should invest in a Unified Commerce approach that results in a holistic purchasing experience and purchasing optimization regardless of the channel chosen by the customer. If all payment details are entered into the same system, business owners can map consumer behavior and identify trends that will influence their decisions. This allows you to be sure that the actions taken will be a direct response to what customers need.“- comments Jakub Czerwiński, VP CEE, Adyen.

Convenient and safe payments

So what payment methods should you provide to your existing and new e-customers? When shopping online, Poles most often pay using fast transfers (similar to a year ago). BLIK is in the next places
and payment on delivery.

The popularity of cash on delivery has increased slightly, which is the result of the dynamic increase in the number e-buyers, i.e. the influx of new, inexperienced consumers to e-commerce. BLIK is considered the most convenient form of online and mobile payments, as well as deferred payments and quick transfers.
Importantly, fear of payment is no longer a deterrent to online shopping for Internet users.

In e-commerce, the simpler process always wins, and in this edition of the Report we observe the progressive increase in BLIK’s share, with the brand already well embedded in the awareness – at this stage probably the strongest among all brands of payment methods and providers on the market. This makes merchants bolder to look for the integration of this payment method in the so-called Level 0. Looking to the future, it will be interesting to see the scale at which BLIK will be challenged by payment tools similar to it – e-wallets or Buy Now Pay Later solutions, which are several years back on the adoption curve. For e-commerce merchants embedded in the pandemic, the pandemic situation was to varying degrees, but practically always, a golden age. This is what every e-commerce report tells about. What those who were most rewarded with growth struggled with, while maintaining the dynamics of the market, others may also struggle with – was the stability and efficiency of key elements of the system: the store platform, payments, logistic integration. For other merchants, the current situation is a sudden increase in the importance of an on-line channel, which until now either did not exist or was treated very marginally. These merchants have to adapt to the new reality – in terms of efficiency, UX, e-commerce competences, but also financial and management processes that flow from the increase in the share of e-commerce in the sales mix. They face challenges related to the combination of on-line and off-line B2C and B2B payment channels, the frequency of withdrawals from payment processors, fitting the new channel into reporting and ERP processes.” – comments Jarosław Stefański, CEO of mElements.

The content partners of the report are Adyen, Przelewy24, Allegro and mElements.
The report’s partner is ERIF Biuro Informacji Gospodarczej S.A.

Source: Data from the study and report “Omni-commerce. I am buying conveniently 2021 “, commissioned by the Chamber of Electronic Economy by the research company Mobile Institute. The study was conducted on a sample of 1907 internet users. Opinions were collected using the CAWI method, using responsive electronic surveys. The data was collected on May 17-30, 2021. They are representative of Internet users in Poland in terms of the gender structure, age and size of the place of residence.

The report is available for download free of charge on the website of the Chamber of Electronic Commerce atę-wygodnie-2021