Revealed: Critical clues on how online shoppers are reacting to tough times

(Source: BigCommerce)

Fresh research from e-commerce platform creator BigCommerce highlights significant changes in shopper behaviour this year – and their impact on the online shopping landscape. 

BigCommerce’s 2024 Online Shopping Report: Consumer Behaviour Trends Shaping Ecommerce examines trends across multiple years, revealing the current challenges – and opportunities – for online retailers.

Among the key findings: Average order sizes have contracted noticeably compared to four years ago as shoppers react to extended financial pressures this year.  

BigCommerce’s data from this year – benchmarked against data for the previous four years – provides critical clues for retailers to optimise strategies in line with current purchasing behaviours, cart abandonment trends, delivery needs, loyalty and rewards preferences, brand engagement, and social media effectiveness.

Shoppers are feeling the economic pinch

The cost-of-living crisis is impacting all demographics Australia-wide, and this is in turn putting a pinch on retailers – especially those selling non-essential items. 

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that discretionary spending on goods grew by a mere 1.1 per cent throughout last year, yet non-discretionary spending soared by 10.7 per cent.

“It’s clear that shoppers are still feeling the pinch of inflation,” the report asserts. “In terms of purchasing behaviour, it demonstrates that shoppers are ordering smaller and smarter.”

On a brighter note, the study clearly showed that the average order values among retailers have stabilised this year, with only a slight decrease in the frequency of orders valued at over $100 from last year to this year.

BigCommerce’s research also identified the categories where consumers are most likely to buy goods – and thus less likely to abandon their carts. But there is a catch: they must first be content with the price. The categories in which shoppers are most likely to order online are fashion, electrical goods, homewares or garden items. 

“We found they also want to keep close tabs on prices, with the majority citing automated price tracking as their preferred website feature,” the report advises. 

A dichotomy in shipping fee attitudes

Never before have consumers been so sensitive to shipping costs, the report finds. Yet there is a strange dichotomy in play between two distinct consumer attitudes. 

Overall, the report found that post-purchase costs are significantly influencing purchasing decisions at checkout. Expensive shipping fees will prompt almost all shoppers to abandon their carts. However, the research also shows that a large proportion of consumers will pay an extra $20 for a same-day delivery service. 

“The takeaway here is that while cost is a fundamental concern to shoppers, they also cherish choice when it comes to shipping options,” the report asserts.

Another conclusion is that during a time when shoppers are thinking carefully about their spending, brands must develop a deep understanding of consumer behaviours and tailor purchasing experiences to match customer preferences.

“This year, it pays to be mindful of how your brand connects, engages, and rewards shoppers,” concludes the report. 

“Analyse which social channels are in tune with your specific audience, provide on-site shopping experiences that demonstrate trust and ease of getting to the checkout – and reward customers in the ways that matter most.”

A final thought from the report’s conclusion: “Consider cost-conscious options across the pre-and-post purchase stages that will positively influence your customers’ decisions to convert and reconvert.”