Top 6 ways consumer behavior impacted e-commerce in 2020

2020 was an unprecedented year for e-commerce. Growth went through the roof when consumers - often out of necessity - started to buy more through online channels. To find out the impact of consumer behavior on e-commerce, AfterPay Insights (the e-commerce insights platform from payment method AfterPay - Arvato Financial Solutions) surveyed more than 66,000 Dutch, German and Norwegian consumers about their behavior and attitudes towards online shopping. Now that 2020 is behind us, AfterPay looks back on this exceptional e-commerce year and presents the most important findings in this "Top 6".

What are the main changes in online consumer behavior in 2020 (compared to 2019)? How many "new customers" has e-commerce managed to attract? And who are they? Exactly when in 2020 consumers do consumers change their online purchasing behavior? Read on to find out!

1. The ‘online shopper’ segment grows to ~79% of all consumers in 2020.

The share of consumers who make at least one online purchase every two weeks increases dramatically in 2020. The online consumer base increases most in Germany (from 69% in March to 83% by December), followed by the Netherlands (64% in March to 80% in December) and finally, Norway (55% in March to 74% by December).

2. Older consumers discover the benefits of online shopping.

The inflow to e-commerce among consumers aged 45–64 years old is higher than in the population in general. This is particularly visible in the Netherlands, where the online shopper base grows +36% among 45–64 year olds in 2020, followed by +31% in Germany and +37% in Norway. In comparison: new consumer inflow in the general population is +25% in the Netherlands, 20% in Germany and 36% in Norway. This completely new online segment creates opportunities for webshops to

 Top 6 ways consumer behavior impacted e-commerce in 2020

3. Infrequent 'existing online shoppers' increase online purchases the most.

AfterPay Insights asked consumers how frequently they shopped online in 2019. And the results show that consumers who shopped online on a quarterly basis in 2019 increased their online purchases the most in 2020, followed by monthly- and weekly online shoppers. I.e. the less you purchased online in 2019, the more you increased your online purchases in 2020. 40% of Dutch ‘quarterly online shoppers’ increased their purchases during 2020, compared to 28% in Germany and 19% in Norway.

4. New online shoppers mostly enter e-commerce during Peak Season 2020.

Existing online shoppers increase e-commerce purchases quite early on in 2020, during the ‘first wave’ that spread through Europe – around March/April. The majority of new online shoppers (shoppers who do not shop online until 2020) discover the benefits of online shopping later in 2020 it’s until October/November (Q4) that this segment shifts purchases to online channels. It’s likely that Peak Season sales (like Singles’ Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday) combined with tighter restrictions trigger offline-loyal consumers to finally change their shopping behavior. The difference can be explained by the fact that consumers more easily change existing behavior than switch to new behaviors.

 Top 6 ways consumer behavior impacted e-commerce in 2020

5. Same forces drive existing and new shoppers to online, but significant differences across countries.

Dutch and German consumers are more rationally pushed to online channels due to physical (’I am stuck at home’, ’stores are closed’) and psychological (’online shopping is safer’) limitations. However, for Norwegians the choice for e-commerce is a more experiential one (’online is more convenient’, ’cheaper’).

6. Finances and loyalty to local businesses hold consumers back.

Existing online shoppers claim that financial reasons withhold them from making as many online purchases as they want (“careful spending due to the uncertainty in society”, “personal financial situation limits my shopping”). And a larger share of new online shoppers state that they reduce online purchases because they ‘want to support local physical stores’.

 Top 6 ways consumer behavior impacted e-commerce in 2020

This article was originally published on AfterPay Insights in February 2021. Read it here.

About AfterPay

AfterPay enables consumers to pay after delivery: a quick, easy and safe way of paying that is preferred by more than half of all consumers. AfterPay offers five different payment options: the 14-Day Invoice, Campaign Invoice, Consolidated Invoice, Fixed Instalments, and AfterPay FLEX. These services are available at the biggest global and local brands in nine countries: The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. AfterPay is a business unit within Arvato Financial Solutions and Bertelsmann.


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