Covid-19: Pandemic has integrated digital into consumers' lives, says report

The Covid-19 pandemic has radically altered the way technology is used in the everyday lives of consumers, with digital channels set to dominate retail purchases and experiences going forward, according to the inaugural ‘Digital Life Index’ report by Publicis Sapient.

In a survey of 3,000 people across five countries including the UK, 71% of respondents stated that they have shopped online more than they usually do during the crisis, while 48% said they will shop more digitally in the future.

In regard to the UK, 68% shopped online weekly or more during Covid-19, and 47% revealed they have bought groceries online for the first time in the last six months, with 51% intending to do so more often in the future.

Compared to the other countries (USA, Canada, Australia and Singapore), UK consumers are more likely to prefer purchasing appliances (48%) and electronics (57%) online. Apparel, shoes and accessories was the category in which Brits had preferred online purchasing over the last three months, at 60%.

The report also suggests that retailers should connect with customers via social media channels such as YouTube more often, with this medium becoming “the dominant source of influence over our free time.” For example, 56% of respondents used YouTube as a resource for home workouts during Covid-19.

The accelerated shift towards contactless payments  was additionally highlighted, with 32% of UK respondents stating they would now always choose to pay via this method in-store.

Teresa Barreira, CMO of Publicis Sapient, commented: “The research provides a clear, overarching trend in the last three to six months of a significant convergence of the online and offline worlds. Digital experiences have increased – online shopping, contactless payments, health and fitness – all enabled by consumer expectations and convenience, with social media as the invisible thread that connects us to a global community.

“It will be interesting to see the continuation of these behaviours, which will stay for the long-term i.e., contactless and mobile payments, and which will inevitably shift back to a degree of pre-Covid normality."

Earlier today, John Lewis outlined plans to become a “digital first” business in an update of its strategic review.