What is the future of online shopping? The fast-paced and trendsetting influencers might hold the answer. And judging from their behaviour, online shopping could overtake retail sooner than has previously been predicted.
The future of retail remains a hot topic. And while the question continues to spark debates, early adopters continue to set the trends. Influencers continue to play an important role in shaping upcoming consumer trends: what to do, buy or wear in the future. In a new report, produced by the influencer marketing agency Relatable in collaboration with Klarna, 3 200 social media influencers from around the world were interviewed to find out what their view is on the topic. Researchers picked their brains on key trends, hot topics and behaviour in online shopping in 2020 and next year. The study is an exciting overview of influencer trends as well as valuable insights for retailers. Some key takeaways include:
1. Convenience is (still) queen
Unsurprisingly, influencers spend a lot of time online. Both because their profession requires it and for personal reasons. That makes it natural to shop online. One of the most important drivers is convenience. Online shopping should be quick and easy. Some of the influencers’ core needs revolve around the ability to shop whenever they want, compare prices and get items delivered and returned at their convenience. These are some of the basics of online shopping and the influencers’ verdict underlines how crucial it is for stores to get it right.
Influencers also agree – mobile shopping will continue to grow. It’s the #1 new shopping tool that will be even more dominant among consumers in the coming 18 months. Everything from price comparisons and loyalty programs to customer service and payment apps needs to be mobile-friendly. “Mobile first” is the mantra all retailers need to have in order to stay in the game.
2. All eyes on Mother Earth
Sustainability continues to rapidly gain in importance for influencers. They want to feel good about themselves and their shopping habits – who doesn’t? Price is still considered more relevant when deciding what brand to buy from. But a shift seems to be imminent, where a sustainable product or production takes priority over price.
Values definitely appeal to influencers. Besides sustainable production, eco-friendly materials and social justice top the list in influencers’ wish for brands to focus on. This suggests they strive for a positive impact on the globe through shopping.
3. Shopping should be social
Social media is the new mall. It’s where influencers find inspiration and information about products and brands. And – perhaps most importantly – it’s also where they purchase items. Overwhelmingly, eight out of ten influencers follow brands they normally buy from on social media and plan to shop with them. It is also on social media where influencers generally discover new brands.
Instagram is remarkably dominant when it comes to influencer shopping. What platform is next in line depends on the generation. Older Millennials and Generation X turn to Facebook for their shopping needs, while the younger generation Gen Z, on the other hand, gravitates towards shopping via Youtube and Tiktok.
4. Flexible payment options are on the uptick
Payment and pay later services have caught the attention of influencers. The ease of using other payment solutions compared to more traditional and less convenient credit and debit cards options definitely is finding appeal among them. Flexibility is key – influencers need the freedom to pay when and how they like. According to them, the global demand for flexible payments will increase dramatically in the coming 18 months – especially among Gen Z. Retailers need to offer a variety of alternatives in order to keep customers. For example, with Klarna, consumers can split the purchase into manageable monthly instalments. Best part? It’s interest-free.
This solves one of the influencers’ biggest shopping pain points: not being able to try before they buy. The pay later option gives consumers freedom to feel, try and inspect the item before they open their wallet.
5. The revival of physical stores
While retail has struggled to keep up with the shift towards online shopping, a renaissance is on the horizon – in store shopping. According to influencers, the main perks with shopping in a physical store are the ability to touch, try and explore products, providing an extra “fun”: factor to their shopping experiences. While that may be the case, it is also clear from the research that they crave a combination of the physical and the digital. To bridge the gap, one solution is to use physical stores as a source of inspiration – e.g. setting up showrooms where customers can try and feel the item, and then purchase it online.
Unexpectedly, it’s the young generation Z that shows the most enthusiastic interest in physical retail. For example, they’re twice as likely as Millennials and Gen Xers to buy health products in physical stores. Millennials have been accused of killing brick and mortar – but Gen Z is opening the door for new possibilities in combination with a strong digital consumer experience.
Buckle up – changes are coming fast
In the coming 1-2 years, influencers plan to do 65% of all their shopping online (excluding groceries). Yes, that’s a lot of online shopping. At the same time, only 22% of global retail is predicted to be done online in 2023. But among early adopters, online shopping will overtake physical retail purchases already this or next year. As influencers often lead the way, mainstream consumers could follow their high pace and increase e-commerce further and faster than expected.
Note: The research was conducted before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite this, the drivers of online shopping remain unchanged, and researchers conclude that the outbreak has led to an accelerated adoption curve of online shopping.
To get the full version of the influencer shopping report, visit the influencer marketing agency Relatable’s website.