Is it safe or not to buy products online

Online shopping: How shopping behavior has changed due to the corona pandemic

Almost every German is currently shopping online. 95 percent of Germans state that they have purchased goods online this year. As a result of the crisis, the number of monthly online purchases has increased somewhat and products that were previously bought in brick-and-mortar stores were ordered for the first time from online platforms.

The state also wants to boost consumption, which has suffered from the pandemic, and is temporarily reducing VAT to 16 percent. In a new study, Capterra has examined how the shopping behavior of German consumers has changed as a result of the crisis, which payment options every online shop should offer and how things stand with the growth of purchases made via voice input and in social media. Some important results at a glance:

  • 60 percent abandon their online purchase or switch to the competition if the online shop does not offer your preferred payment method.
  • 28 percent have been victims once or several times online shop fraud.
  • 42 percent read customer reviews on websites third party vendors to verify the security of an online store.
  • 27 percent have already had products Purchased on social media or by voice.

How the corona pandemic is changing online shopping behavior

German consumers shop online a little more frequently during the crisis than before COVID-19. Given the strict social distancing measures, this increase is understandable and sensible. However, instead of reverting to previous habits, our survey shows that this experience permanently changes the way some customers want to shop for some customers. When asked whether the respondents believe that their shopping behavior has changed as a result of the crisis, 46 percent answered yes. Here are the answers in detail:

  • 23 percent want to shop in online shops more often than before.
  • 16 percent will shop for products online that they previously bought in local stores.
  • Seven percent will avoid going to physical stores due to the risk of infection.
  • 21 percent want to continue ordering groceries online

Some industries are benefiting from the crisis. For example, 42 percent of consumers ordered certain products for the first time during the crisis. The largest proportion of first-time orders have:

  • Clothing, shoes or sports equipment: 16 percent
  • Food: 15 percent
  • Household goods or appliances: ten percent

The online grocery trade in particular is still having a hard time in Germany. The area of ​​fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) has so far only been able to capture a small share of the market. Total e-commerce sales in Germany in 2019 were 59.2 billion euros, of which the FMCG area only 5.2 billion euros.

An analysis by Nielsen shows that Germans place their trust in stationary retail, especially when it comes to freshness. Only every tenth consumer believes that the quality in online retail is the same. Almost every second consumer also misses the product experience in front of the supermarket shelf when shopping online. Another reason for reluctance is that Germans are spoiled by the highest density of supermarkets in Europe and are therefore used to shopping at dealers around the corner.

The study by Capterra shows that the food trade has shown growth during the crisis. We also wanted to know whether the shopping behavior of Germans will change in the long term as a result of the crisis. 21 percent of consumers who ordered food for the first time during the crisis want to continue to do so. 60 percent abandon online purchases or switch to the competition if their preferred payment method is not available

Consider the most popular online payment methods

In many countries, the question of online payment methods with “credit card and PayPal” has been adequately answered. In Germany, on the other hand, many customers do not want to use their credit cards online. Instead, there is a mix of preferences (from classic transfers to various e-payment services) that online retailers have to adjust to. The most popular payment methods in online shops are:

  1. PayPal: 62 percent
  2. Payment by invoice: 40 percent
  3. Payment by direct debit: 25 percent
  4. Credit card: 23 percent
  5. Mobile payment apps share fifth place with prepayment: nine percent

Offering (at least) the first four payment methods is worthwhile, as it has a direct impact on the sales of the online shop. Potential customers only buy from an online shop if they find their preferred payment option there. According to the Capterra survey, 60 percent abandon the purchase or look for the desired product in another online shop if their preferred payment method is not available.

Online shopping: How consumers rate safety

Unfortunately, there has been an increase in the number of scam websites marketing counterfeit products - often related to the coronavirus. The aim of these bogus websites is to obtain personal information as well as credit card details from unsuspecting consumers. For example, 28 percent of German online shoppers have fallen victim to fraud in an online shop on one or more occasions.

How Customers Check An Online Store Is Safe To Avoid The Dangers Of Online Fraud:

  • 42 percent read Customer reviews on third party websites.
  • Check 40 percentwhether the website is encrypted with SSL.
  • 35 percent judge the security of the reputation of the online shop.

Online shopping: customer ratings are so important

The online reputation of companies is also a decisive factor for success. It has a positive effect on the brand and sales. User-generated online reviews are a very important aspect of online reputation. According to a survey by Capterra, customers trust online reviews more than personal recommendations from friends. 26 percent of customers read online customer reviews before making a purchase, 48 percent state that they read reviews on the Internet frequently and 22 percent occasionally. Only four percent of Germans never or rarely read online reviews before buying a product.

Companies know their customers and should know which of them are satisfied. Companies can write to these customers who have a positive attitude towards the company directly and ask for a rating. It is important to be active yourself and not just to watch. Companies can concentrate on a few important portals and actively collect customer ratings for this purpose (for example by offering a bonus for reviews submitted).

Collecting customer ratings on the Trusted Shops and eKomi platforms is crucial for online shops. In addition to ratings, the “Trusted Shops” seal of approval is also important for retailers. The seal of approval states that the e-shop meets certain quality criteria and handles customer data responsibly.

Online shopping: Customers pay attention to SSL encryption

A quick clue that a website has an SSL certificate is to look for the padlock icon in the search bar. Once an online store is set up, adding an SSL certificate to the website helps keep it secure by preventing hackers from accessing private customer information (such as credit card information). Many e-commerce software platforms include SSL and HTTPS as standard in their free web hosting plans, but retailers should always consider this when choosing a provider.

Trends in online shopping: buying via voice and social media

The importance of technological trends in online shopping was also examined. The majority of Germans do not yet use new shopping channels. However, there is a trend towards voice commerce and buying by voice with Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa or Cortana. In addition, a sharp increase in social commerce and online shopping in social medians such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok is expected.

Open up new channels for online shopping

According to the current e-commerce trend study by idealo.de, 26 percent of those surveyed own a smart home device (last year it was 17 percent), whereas 57 percent have already used voice assistants on their smartphones. The main use is in retrieving information, listening to music, making calls / writing messages and operating smart home applications. The bottom line is the ordering of products by voice.

Customers can naturally interact with a bot and ask for specific details in a more informative conversation. The e-commerce trend offers the most advantages for recurring and low-involvement purchases (e.g. ordering batteries). Even if online shopping via voice input is convenient, it does have some disadvantages. According to the idealo study, the fear of inadvertent orders and eavesdropping by the assistant speak against the use of voice assistants.

Social commerce is becoming more and more important as a sales channel

Social commerce is an e-commerce term that describes the online buying activity that takes place through social networks. Over the years, social networks have become more and more integrated into the consumer's shopping experience. Today, businesses can sell directly to customers on a global scale through social channels while reaching out to local customers. The most popular social commerce channels include Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Marketplace, Pinterest and TikTok.

If users scroll through Instagram and see the advertising of a bag that they are interested in, they can click the “Buy” button directly and order the desired product. The payment process is processed directly via Instagram and not via the provider's website or retail store, which is time-saving and convenient for the customer.

Why retailers should rely on social commerce

  1. Social media are a steadily growing marketplace: Not only is the use of social media increasing, but also the interactions of users with products. For example, Instagram states that 60 percent of people discover new products on Instagram.
  2. Providers can reach new target groups: In this way, providers can not only address younger target groups, but also reach interested parties who, for example, now spend more time on their smartphones due to the exit restrictions or the home office.
  3. Success in social commerce is easy to measure: A great advantage of social shopping is that it is easy to measure success. Social media analysis helps retailers understand how their product line is developing in the future and which social media marketing items are driving the most sales.

What do these online shopping trends mean for retailers?

To summarize the most important: Payment methods offered, customer reviews and security through SSL encryption have a direct influence on the trust and sales of an online shop in Germany. Retailers can actively influence these factors and thus improve the reputation of their online shop.

When choosing shop software, companies should pay attention to integrated payment processing, as well as SSL and HTTPS. They can also use review management software. With the software, companies can record testimonials and user reviews. The software assists in responding to negative feedback and improving customer perception of the product or service. The voice and social commerce shopping channels are still rarely used in Germany. However, it is worth keeping an eye on these channels as they are growing rapidly. (sg)

On the methodology of the survey: For the investigation, Capterra carried out an online survey of 1,013 participants in July 2020. Qualified participants live in Germany, are over 18 years old and have shopped online this year and meet one of the following criteria: full-time, part-time, freelance, full-time study, retired or become unemployed during a crisis. 55 percent of the participants are male, 45 percent female. (sg)

About the author: Ines Bahr is Senior Content Analyst at Capterra, an independent search and comparison platform for business software buyers. The company offers verified user ratings and independent test reports in over 700 software categories, helping more than three million buyers a month to find the right software.