What ecommerce brands can expect from UK online shopping behaviour in 2023

Ecommerce has certainly had an interesting time of it over the last few years: A boom during the pandemic lockdowns, a steady decline since restrictions ended, huge supply chain and logistics challenges, and now soaring bills and inflation for businesses and their customers to deal with. No one can say that it’s not been eventful! We’ve taken a look at current UK shopper behaviour when buying online and what kinds of changes ecommerce brands can expect in 2023, as well as tips on how to be prepared for them!

Shoppers turn back to online purchases in the search for better value for money

Browsing and shopping online using mobile device and paying by credit card Research released as recently as August 2022 indicated that despite many people struggling with the increases in living costs, significant numbers of UK shoppers are anticipating that they’ll shop online more frequently in the future, and that 47% carry out at least one online transaction a week. The survey found that 29% of online shoppers thought it was easier to track prices online and the same percentage of respondents said that cheaper products was the driver for choosing ecommerce over visiting physical stores.

How can ecommerce brands prepare for this?

If price tracking is increasingly important for shoppers, setting up a free product feed on Google Shopping is a no-brainer if you don’t already have one so that people can find your online store when searching for products, especially if you are cheaper than some other retailers. You can also share product feeds with other comparison sites such as Pricerunner, to hopefully reach more people who might not otherwise come across your site. If you don’t currently offer free delivery, this could be another avenue to explore, with 48% of UK shoppers stating in a recent survey that free or cheaper delivery for their online purchases would help with the cost of living.

Brand loyalty can’t be taken for granted

Brand loyalty - rewards card Research from Forbes indicates that 82% of UK shoppers have swapped their usual brands for cheaper substitutes over recent months when grocery shopping, showing that brand loyalty only goes so far when budgets are increasingly stretched. Ecommerce brands outside of the food and drink sector might need to take note, especially because a recent study by DMA found that more than half of shoppers say that deals or offers make them change their minds about what brand to buy.

What action can online retailers take to prepare?

What this might mean is that many ecommerce brands will have to work a bit harder, even with existing customers, in order to get more repeat visits and sales, as well as dealing with the challenges of attracting new business. One option for retailers is to plan in lots of different deals and offers to try and tempt shoppers to spend with them rather than their usual brands. This may well be successful, but better deals for shoppers generally means slimmer margins for ecommerce brands, so a careful balance needs to be struck to make sure it’s a sustainable approach for businesses. You can also try using exclusive deals to tempt previous customers and email subscribers back through email marketing, although it’s important to consider your messaging carefully at a time when many people are really struggling financially.

Will social media play a vital role in its success?

One of the most important things to consider is the marketing of your online services/offering across social media. With more than 4.62 billion social media users globally, totalling a whopping 60% of the world’s population, there’s no question about the positive impact this could have on your ROI. The proof is in the numbers, with 77% of social media marketing experts claiming this form of marketing across key social channels (based on their own audience insights) is a “very effective” way of promoting brands and reaching their target demographic. However, building a ‘fool proof’ social media marketing strategy is all in the insights (whilst understanding the consumers needs and behaviours online) to ensure top level results. It’s estimated smaller campaigns can range from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds, while larger campaigns can require over £15,000 a month. Consider your end goal and how this might look so you can invest in the areas of marketing that will see your campaigns as the most profitable.

Shoppers value being offered flexible payment options

Purchasing with Buy Now Pay Later on mobile Research indicates that around 12% of UK adults have used Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) payment solutions in the last 12 months, and 36% of consumers say that this kind of payment option has become more appealing since inflation started to climb. However, grocery giant Iceland have recently had a mixed response to the launch of their own BNPL scheme so that shoppers can buy essentials on credit. While BNPL can be a short-term way for shoppers to spread the cost of purchasing products online, it’s something that many consumers and retailers are rightly cautious about, as with any form of credit. However, it’s not the only kind of payment flexibility that ecommerce brands can offer to their customers. Online retailers can give options such as paying for purchases via PayPal, Google Wallet or Apple Pay as well as standard debit or credit card payments.

How can ecommerce brands prepare for this?

It’s important to look at the online payment methods that you currently use and analyse how well they are meeting customer needs now, as well as considering new options – perhaps reviewing what your competition are offering? Looking at the usage stats for your existing payment types (and checkout abandonment rate, which may be payment type related) you may also want to consider surveying some of your customers or those in the right audience to get information about their preferences before you commit to new offerings, such as BNPL. It’s important that you make the right decisions for your specific audience and take into consideration the type and price point of what you sell, as this can help determine the most effective payment solutions for your business into the future.

Shoppers will do more research before making a purchase

Taking notes while researching products online - finding the cheapest The recent DMA survey indicates that 78% of UK shoppers said they would spend time researching products to get good value. Whilst this has often been the case in the past with higher ticket purchases, we can perhaps expect to see consumers making more considered transactions for even some lower value products when shopping online.

How can online retailers prepare for this?

Ecommerce brands can prepare for more consumers seeking detailed product information and USPs for their products by getting product pages and FAQ sections into shape as soon as possible. As well as following product page SEO best practices, online retailers can also include product user reviews (as well as retailer reviews) where possible, and give plenty of page space for reasons why shoppers should choose them over their competitors e.g. fast and free delivery, hassle-free returns, award-winning customer service, sustainability pledges etc. Getting all of this live as soon as possible means that you can benefit from future ecommerce SEO performance because people search for information on a product they’re considering, as well as simply delivering a more compelling pitch on your product pages. Infographic - Ecommerce shopping habits for 2023 Whether your ecommerce website sells everyday essentials or luxury items, the road ahead looks like it will have many challenges as consumers have to be more and more discerning over what they spend when shopping online. While none of us have a crystal ball, there are steps that can be taken to help stack the deck in your business’ favour as we move into 2023, by preparing as best as possible for evolving consumer behaviour at this time. If you’d like help from an experienced and award-winning marketing agency in 2023, we’d love to hear from you – so please use the form below to get in touch.
Picture of Laura Rudd

Laura Rudd

I’ve worked in digital and content marketing for over 20 years, specialising in SEO since its inception. My career has spanned both agency-side and in-house roles, working alongside brands like HomeServe, Taking Care, Checkatrade, and AO.com. My expertise centres on SEO and content marketing, where I’m passionate about audience-first strategies that drive long-term organic performance.

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