London, UK –7h July 2021: As COVID-19 restrictions ease in many parts of the world and non-essential retail in England reopens on July 19th, Wunderman Thompson Commerce’s Future Shopper Report 2021 – which surveyed over 28,000 consumers across 17 countries on their current and future shopping habits – revealed that, in a post-pandemic world, online shopping will account for over half (51%) of retail sales globally.

72% of global shoppers say that online shopping came to their rescue in 2020 and nearly three-quarters (73%) say eCommerce would be more important to them in 2021. Another contributing factor for 60% of global shoppers was being more comfortable using digital technology in the wake of the pandemic.

One of the retail winners following COVID-19 was marketplaces, with 42% of all online spend globally going to the likes of Amazon, Alibaba, JD.com, Mercado Libre and eBay. While their dominance is frightening to some, many consumers seem unconcerned – with two-thirds (64%) saying they are excited by the prospect of buying everything through one retailer or marketplace in future.

Yet Amazon and the like may not have everything their own way. More than half (56%) of global consumers supported the idea of Amazon paying more taxes, rising to over two-thirds (69%) in the UK and 70% in the US.

Hugh Fletcher, Global Head of Consultancy and Innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said: “eCommerce can no longer be treated as the supplementary sales channel. Global shoppers have clearly stated that, in the future, it will be their primary channel for retail purchasing. For some organisations, and particularly marketplaces, they are reaping the rewards of investing in a strong online presence, while the news has been littered with stories of businesses who have not identified these changing demands going bust.

“Amazon continues to be the leader of the retail pack in the West, alongside Mercado Libre in LATAM and a number of marketplaces in APAC, but they are facing increasing pressure from consumers to be more ethical and from competitors who are investing in their own direct-to-consumer offerings, digital marketplaces, innovations and social media platforms. Couple this with the fact that COVID-19 has weakened brand loyalty, and serious challenges remain in the sector – it’s no longer enough to just have an online offering that reaches customers on one or two channels and to expect long-term ROI.”

Despite the unabated rise of eCommerce and the fear to physically shop – 41% say they are frightened about shopping instore in the wake of COVID-19 with 48% of shoppers saying the same last year – consumers are demanding integrated omni-channel offerings from retailers and brands.

What’s more, two-thirds (64%) of global shoppers say that they prefer to shop with brands that have both an online and offline presence, while 59% of consumers said they wished brands would communicate seamlessly with them across all channels, digital and physical. And their expectations need to be met, with close to three-quarters (73%) saying retailers need to get better at giving them the products, service and experience they expect.

This means that retailers must operate across multiple channels including social commerce which is going to be a massive aspect of eCommerce. In fact, 44% of global consumers have already bought from a social platform and over half (56%) intend to increase this in the future.

“2021 and beyond will usher in an era of more diverse online offerings, with marketplaces, direct-to-consumer brand sites and social commerce all having a key role to play. Businesses must ensure that this more complex online landscape complements their overall retail offering which needs to span digital and physical,” Fletcher concluded.

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