COVID-19: Online shopping behaviour set to change
The changes to delivery and returns propositions made by global retailers in the face of COVID-19 will likely bring about permanent change, according to GlobalData
In response to the pandemic, contactless delivery was widely introduced in China, setting the bar high for retailers and foodservice providers globally.
ecommerce giants Alibaba and JD.com’s food and grocery arms have introduced contactless delivery methods, as well as foodservice providers such as Meituan employing the same method for takeaways with customers being informed of both the chef and delivery driver’s temperature – a level of detail that has not yet been replicated in other countries.
Contactless delivery has also been introduced by retailers internationally, including in the UK and US, helping them to keep their online operations open.
Emily Salter, retail analyst at GlobalData, added: “The impacts of COVID-19 have the potential to decrease the popularity of click & collect beyond the outbreak as more people are expected to work from home in the long term, so will be able to accept home deliveries. Additionally, when stores re-open many consumers will be reluctant to visit busy locations due to lingering concerns around their health. Consumers may switch to third-party pickup options instead, especially lockers as this fulfilment method has no contact with others, as long as shoppers are reassured about the cleanliness of the facilities.
Returns timings and methods are also being affected by COVID-19, with many consumers being unable to return items if they are self-isolating, or if the shop they usually return items to has closed.
In response to this, retailers have extended their returns periods to either a set number of days (which may not be long enough to guarantee that stores will have re-opened and so will need reviewing) or a specified number of days after stores re-open.
Consumers may come to expect this longer returns period, though many will not want to wait this long for a refund so this change will have little impact on long term behaviour.