How Changes in Purchasing Decisions Could Affect Your Business

Yesterday I was a last-minute speaker for a business group, filling in for a planned speaker who was under the weather. I had to put on my thinking cap and come up with an interesting topic with little time to spare.

Given that we are now at the one-year anniversary of COVID-19’s initial impacts on our economy and way of life, I decided to look for statistics outlining how the pandemic and other recent events are affecting purchasing decisions.

Here are some of the statistics I found:

  • Roughly 87% of shoppers placed online orders for delivery between March 2020 and December 2020. (Numerator)
  • 51% placed online orders for in-store or curbside pickup. (Numerator)
  • 55% are making online purchases more frequently during COVID than they did before. (Numerator)
  • 50% are shopping in person at stores less frequently. (Numerator)
  • Post-COVID, 22% expect to maintain a higher frequency of online shopping. (Numerator)
  • 28% expect to increase their frequency of in-store shopping. (Numerator)
  • 82% of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they are about to make in-store and 45% read reviews before making a purchase. (Forbes)
  • 45% of Facebook users in the United States have considered leaving the social network. (Statista)
  • 32% of Twitter users felt the same. (Statista)
  • 22% of Instagram users felt the same. (Statista)
  • As far back as 2010, when asked how much influence a website has over their purchasing decisions, 74% said “a great deal” or “some,” 23% said “little” and only 3% said “no influence.” (HubSpot)
  • Mobile traffic, NOT including tablets, accounts for approximately half of web traffic worldwide. (Statista)

The world has changed in the past year. Many people who were uncomfortable with technology have now adapted to it. I’ve personally witnessed people who previously struggled to turn on a computer and now conduct themselves like videoconference professionals.

The increasing use of technology by a wider range of people has eliminated geographic boundaries to networking and business development. Speaking from my own experience, on more than one occasion I’ve chosen to participate virtually in meetings that I could have attended in person, simply because it saved me 30 minutes of travel time each way. We were still able to conduct business, and I was able to put what would have been an hour of windshield time to more productive use.

People who were previously in-store shoppers have become comfortable with online shopping, including in-store pickup. While they may increase their in-store shopping when COVID subsides, it is doubtful that they will revert entirely to conducting business in-person.

Businesses and professionals who fail to understand that the world has changed put themselves at a disadvantage. Here are a few of my key takeaways from these stats:

  • Businesses that do not have a strong, user-friendly online presence will fall behind those that do.
  • Today’s social media mainstay may be tomorrow’s old news (anyone remember Myspace?). Don’t put all of your eggs in one social media basket.
  • While you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one social media basket, you should leverage your social channels to funnel people to the platform you can control: your own website.
  • Your online presence must be designed with a mobile-first mentality. A website that looks sharp on your desktop but performs poorly on a mobile device is not a good website.
  • You need more than a mere online presence – you need a well thought out online experience.
  • Because people are often doing online research before even contacting a business, a poor online presence can cost you a client you never even knew was interested.
  • Your entire online presence must be designed around a cohesive marketing strategy that is aligned with your business goals.

Put yourself in the shoes of your clients and potential clients. If you were visiting your own website for the first time, would you find it to be user friendly and easy to navigate? What kind of first impression would it give you? Does it clearly communicate your key message? Are site visitors directed to a clear call to action that is aligned with your marketing and sales strategy? If the answers to these questions are cause for concern, now is a good time to evaluate and revamp your online presence.

Frank Williams is president of Pioneer Strategies, a public relations and strategic communication firm based in Leland.

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