The New Face Of Online Shopping

The New Face Of Online Shopping

Last year was a huge one for online commerce in Australia. With the pandemic sweeping the nation and many us in lockdown, we simply turned to our screens for communication, comfort and shopping.

According to statistics compiled by Australia Post, online shopping grew 45 per cent in the year to November 31, with more than 200,000 households shopping online for the first time, in the first 10 weeks of COVID-19.

November was the biggest ever month in Australian online shopping history. Buoyed by shopping events including Black Friday and Click Frenzy, 5.5 million Australian households shopped from home. 

A new face of online retail has also emerged among these ecommerce debutantes. It’s senior shoppers who are trying online shopping for the first time, according to Steve Kumar from consultancy Retail Oasis.

Unlike millennials and Generation X who might shop in a rush of excitement to hit the Buy button and snag a bargain, Kumar believes that older online shoppers makes considered purchases that are the result of careful research.

“They’re a lot more cautious, Mr Kumar explained. “Therefore if they order something online they’re a lot more likely to check everything”  before they buy.

Hopefully, these seasoned consumers will be carefully monitoring where their products are manufactured. According to research giant, Roy Morgan,  the ‘Made in Australia’ promise is especially important to consumers when it comes to food, complementary health products, building and renovation, pet care, household appliances and beauty and cosmetic products.

This introduction of an older demographic makes perfect sense to television personality and finance guru, David Koch, who understands this from personal experience.

“My 86 year old mum is doing online shopping and loving it,” says the  television personality and finance guru. “She’s never done it before in her life, although she has done online banking but it’s now just so easy for everyone to shop online.”

And it’s set to become even more enjoyable, according to Ryan Menaces, Chief Technology & Transformation Officer at GroupM, which develops digital roadmaps for businesses. Menaces says that that voice enabled smart devices including Google Smart Hub, Amazon Echo Show with Alexa and Facebook Portal, will allow commerce “to evolve from the tip of your fingers to the tip of your tongue”. Users will be able to deliver voice commands to purchase products from their smart home devices.

With the pandemic expected to be a part of our lives for many months yet, these devices will deliver a virtual armchair ride to the shopping mall.

Certainly, the need for isolation wrought by Covid 19 has given our society a crash course in becoming tech savvy. During 2020 we were not only taking meeting through Zoom but also staging cocktail parties and even going on dates in front of our screens. (Hello flattering, portable lights and Touch Up).

All those families separated from their loved ones were also catching upon on FaceTime, which became vital in lockdown in nursing homes and hospital wards. In many situations, mobile devices are lifelines and it seems that there’s no going back.

Despite the promise of widespread vaccination against Covid, returning to our favourite shopping malls is not exactly the fun experience that it once was, thanks to mask wearing rules, constant sanitising and checking in.

There’s also been edicts like the one delivered by NSW Premier, Gladys Berijikilian to stay away from the CBD during the Boxing Day sales in fear of a rise in recent infections there. Although this sent many shoppers back to suburban strips, many simply scooped up Boxing Day sales on their screens. It’s online shopping that’s given consumers of all ages a viable alternative to risking their health, while snapping up a bargain.


ABOUT THE WRITER Ros Reines is a Sydney journalist and the author of four books.

She is currently penning her fifth - a memoir of a life in the media. 

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