It’s no secret – shopping has changed dramatically in the past year and a half. While online shopping was on the rise, the pandemic brought on permanent changes to the ecommerce landscape that determined which digital brands would sink or swim.

Over a year in, how are shoppers feeling about these changes? What have they come to expect of a digital experience? At Lucidworks, we’re not fond of guesswork. That’s why we surveyed 800 shoppers in the U.S. and U.K. about their online shopping habits after over a year’s worth of pandemic life.

We were interested in what they looked for in ideal online shopping scenarios, what they expect in terms of recommendations, their attitudes toward chatbots, and much more. The results both reaffirmed and surprised us. Below are four key lessons we learned about consumer preferences in the age of online-mostly experiences.

1. Chatbots have untapped potential.

A surprising number of respondents in our survey noted how much more they’d like to see from chatbots. A whopping 70% of shoppers use chatbots often or at every visit of a brand’s digital storefront, with 53% using chatbots to find products and 48% using chatbots to find relevant content or product information. In other words, chatbots have the potential to go far beyond simple customer service by providing relevant product information and content recommendations. Considering that 1 in 4 shoppers will outright leave the website if the chatbot cannot provide the answers they are looking for, every digital interaction counts. Chatbots can act as a portal to more sales and brand loyalty.

2. Customer loyalty hinges on three factors.

The mass shift to online-mostly interactions created an explosion of new options for browsing, buying, and picking up.. With so many digital brands vying for their attention, the competition to retain a shopper’s loyalty is extremely fierce. In our survey, we learned that the brands that excel in customer loyalty are prioritizing three major factors: high-quality products, personalized recommendations, and excellent customer service. Brands that put these three pillars first in their digital experiences come out ahead.

3. Shopper hesitancy to return to in-store experiences will impact some industries more than others.

Our survey found that shoppers do not treat industries equally when it comes to online versus in-store experiences. The top three categories that consumers shopped online are apparel, grocery, and electronics. That said, shoppers expressed the most interest in purchasing apparel and groceries in-store as restrictions are lifted. In fact, about two-thirds of shoppers want to go back to in-store shopping when it comes to groceries specifically. Electronics will most likely remain in the predominantly online shopping category.

4. Shoppers want personalized, connected experiences.

Above all, the biggest lesson that we learned is that shoppers want experiences that reflect an understanding of who they are and their goals. When shoppers have meaningfully personalized experiences, they are far more likely to not only make a purchase, but also remember a brand and come back. Brands should focus on creating comprehensive, connected experiences with expanded chatbot capabilities, diverse product and content recommendations, and customer service that shows they know who their customers are and what they like.

Download our full consumer survey report for even more insights on what shoppers expect from online shopping experiences and how to meet their needs.

Interested in how we can help your brand tackle the demands of online-mostly shoppers? Drop us a line for a demo.

About Katie Florez

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