For several years now, and especially since the Covid-19 pandemic, online sales have exploded worldwide, reaching record levels in Canada: $3.9 billion in May, 2020 (+110% compared to May 2019!). In 2022, the total volume of online sales increased even further by 40% in the first half of the year alone. But why is there such a thirst for online shopping? And, more importantly, what impacts is it having on our shopping habits? Keep reading to find out.
The same way it changed most other industries, the internet has demolished the old rules of shopping, sweeping away barriers like geography, money and language. Today, almost anyone, anywhere, can buy anything. We are bombarded by advertising messages, creating a frenzy of consumption like never before. The accessibility of e-commerce, paired with being bombarded with advertisements, seems to trigger purchasing patterns–one that is radically different from the behaviour of in-store shoppers of the pre-internet age.
The internet has revolutionized the act of searching for information. Due to the ease of accessibility within a short period of time, the search for information is greatly facilitated. In regards to shopping patterns, two out of three purchases now start online, i.e. via a search on the internet (mainly through Google or Amazon), independent of the final purchase location.
Another common online shopping pattern is the evaluation of solutions and alternatives, which has indeed been greatly impacted by the arrival of the internet. Whereas before it was only possible to compare various offers and prices by spending time to go check in person, the internet now makes it possible to compare an incalculable number of possibilities. As such, the online insurance and financial products comparison platform HelloSafe offers hundreds of free, anonymous, and instantaneous comparators and calculators. This includes expert and updated content, to help everyone to make the best decisions for their money and find the right offer, at the right price.
Faced with more and more shopping possibilities (notably thanks to an easier search for information and an array of options), it is then logical that our consumption practices evolve. We try to find what is the most advantageous and convenient for us in terms of timing, geography or price. So while it was only possible before to shop in-store for certain items or experience long wait-times for deliveries, the internet has changed the game. Hence, the worldwide explosion of e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay or Shopify.
What does this mean in practice?
The internet has truly revolutionized the practice of consumption in that there is more comfort in the purchasing process due to the fewer barriers, access to previously inaccessible options, and thus more competitive prices. With the rise of new technologies such as the metaverse, NFTs or crypto-currencies, online shopping practices are continuously evolving, opening up a whole new world of possibilities.