There is no question that the past year and a half has been a period of exponential growth for online retailers.
Surprisingly, according to our analysis of Australian web traffic and search data, the biggest surge in online shopping has occurred after the height of the pandemic. Our data has shown that online traffic to Australia’s top 100 eCommerce sites increased by 10 per cent between Q1 2019 and Q1 2020, but in the first quarter of this year, traffic rose by more than 42 per cent.
Buyers have been spending across a wide range of sectors, with searches to fashion and apparel sites rising year-on-year by 61 per cent, health and beauty sites by 51 per cent, even traffic for keto diet meal kits increased by 255 per cent – whatever the heck that is.
Not only did more people visit eCommerce stores during this period, but the conversion rate increased, with our data showing that Australians are following through with their purchases six-and-a-half per cent more than they were 12 months ago.
The surge is encouraging, but, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that things can flip in an instant. In the space of just 24 hours, external events can cause a seismic shift in the ways consumers work, live, play, and search for products online.
Take the snap lockdowns that came into effect across most of the nation recently. In the time leading up to this period – which also coincided with EOFY sales – our data showed a marked rise in searches for specific products.
Wi-Fi extenders rose by 25 per cent, which, for the uninitiated, are devices used to extend home connectivity coverage. Mini fridges experienced a 103 per cent rise in searches, while for noise cancelling headphones it was 40 per cent.
Heaters experienced a 17 per cent rise in searches, laptops a five per cent increase, and monitors were 31 per cent more popular.
When listed separately, these items might sound like a quizzical hotchpotch. But together, they combine to form a picture of Australians pimping out their home offices in preparation to work from home more permanently.
Wi-Fi extenders end the housemate battle for the dining room table, while mini fridges allow workers to easily reach over for a beer or kombucha come 5pm on a Friday night. Noise cancelling headphones block out the background chatter, lawn mowers, and barking dogs we’ve all contended with over the past year, while heaters, monitors, and monitor stands complete the office set-up in terms of functionality and comfort.
Perhaps the biggest upshot from these findings is that retailers can’t afford to rest on their laurels, safe in the knowledge that online shoppers aren’t going anywhere. They need to be cognisant of how external changes can alter buyer behaviour and leverage data and insights to make strategic choices about how to advertise their products or which new products to stock.
Access to data across vertical markets can also increase avenues for creativity. For instance, in the gearing up to work from home scenario, fashion retailers could begin to market comfortable house wear, and food retailers could switch their focus to at-home meal kits (with a few keto options of course…) to fill the mini fridges everyone is buying.
As a wise person once said, “People are what they Google.” By looking at exactly what people are searching and not searching for, eCommerce retailers can stay abreast of the trends, ahead of competition, and end the guesswork of where to focus marketing efforts.