Blog Posts, Research Insights

Online vs in-store shopping: Omnichannel Trends Are Picking Up Across Industries

October 1, 2021
Admin Administrator 6 mins read
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It’s been said that the state of online shopping has accelerated, placing it on track for a $1 trillion year by 2022. This acceleration is largely due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even without the influence of a global disaster like a pandemic, TraQline data shows steady increases in consumers making purchases online, It’s been said that the state of online shopping has accelerated, placing it on track for a $1 trillion year by 2022. This acceleration is largely due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even without the influence of a global disaster like a pandemic, TraQline data shows steady increases in consumers making purchases online. Except for Q2 2021, online purchase rates have seen significant growth every quarter for the past 5 years. With these paradigm shifts underway, how are online vs in-store shopping trends shifting? Where is the U.S. market is seeing the most opportunity for omnichannel growth?

Q2 2021 is the first quarter in 5 years to show a significant decline in online purchase rates, likely due to consumers enthusiastically visiting retail stores as lockdowns and restrictions ease

Key Facts About Online vs In-Store Shopping

  • The rate of online purchasing has been steadily increasing over the past 5 years
  • Online shopping as a whole peaked in Q4 2020 for the US consumer durables market
  • Consumer durable categories (of the 270 tracked) with the highest rate of change in online growth include: Cell phones, Kitchen & Bath, and Major Appliances
  • Consumer durable categories with the lowest rate of change in online sales include: Automotive, Building/Plumbing/Safety, and Sports equipment

The US Market Has Shifted In Favor of Online vs In-Store Shopping

With almost 31 percent of respondents indicating they made a consumer durables purchase online in Q2 of 2021, the tide is turning in favor of online shopping. The rate of online purchasing has been steadily increasing over the past five years. TraQline’s syndicated survey noted a sharp increase in online shopping overall in Q2 2020, which was during the height of lockdowns in the United States. There was a nearly 600 basis points (bps) increase from Q1 2020 to Q2 2020 in the mix of sales that went to online rather than in-store shopping (26 percent to 32 percent quarter over quarter). This rate continued to increase, peaking at 35 percent in Q4 of 2020. This is somewhat unsurprising as online sales traditionally increase in Q4 due to online shopping for the holidays.

Which Product Groups Saw Highest Online vs In-store shopping growth during the pandemic?

Every product group that TraQline covers saw increases in online shopping sales during the pandemic. Looking specifically at the changes between Q1 and Q2 of 2020, the three product groups that saw the largest rate of change were:

  • Cell Phones: 1300 bps increase from one quarter to the next
  • Kitchen & Bath: 790 bps increase from one quarter to the next
  • Major Appliances: 800 bps increase from one quarter to the next

Which Product Groups Saw Lowest Online vs In-store shopping growth during the pandemic?

While every product group saw growth, some grew less rapidly than others. The three product groups that saw the lowest rate of change were:

  • Automotive: 120 bps from one quarter to the next
  • Building/Plumbing/Safety: 330 bps from one quarter to the next
  • Fitness Equipment: 580 bps from one quarter to the next

For top product groups: What’s driving growth in for online vs in-store shopping?

Within those top product groups, certain products help drive online sales growth. As cell phones is a single product on its own, more variance among products can be seen by looking more closely Kitchen and Bath and Major Appliances product groups. Many consumers made purchases to enhance their quality of life at home, and these product categories reflect those changes and updates.

Which products drove online shopping growth for Kitchen and Bath?

Kitchens and Baths are often a focus of remodeling and DIY projects for homeowners. With so many people at home and feeling eager to upgrade their space to fit their quarantine lifestyles, it is perhaps unsurprising that this group saw large increases from Q1 to Q2 2020.  In fact, of the 13 products tracked, only Kitchen Sink’s online sales didn’t grow 500 bps or more from Q1 to Q2 2020.

One in four kitchen and bath products was purchased online rather than in store. Surprisingly, the highest growth rate came from Kitchen Countertops, which grew 830 bps quarter over quarter. However, it is important to note that it still only reached 12 percent purchased online in Q2 2020. So while this was higher than previous quarters, it is still a very low overall percent. Bathroom sinks and faucets also contributed to such high growth of online sales in this product group.

Which products drove online shopping growth for Major Appliances?

Major appliances are a category that consumers still frequently shop for in person. Prior to the pandemic, only about 16-17 percent of major appliances were purchased online. Once lockdowns began, that rate jumped to 27 percent in Q2 2020, a 800 bps increase over the previous quarter. Refrigerators, Dishwashers, Wall Ovens, and Over the Range Microwaves all saw 870+ bps increases in their online sales mix vs in-store sales. With low in-store stocks and so many people needing to cook and eat at home (not to mention do those increased dishes), it’s understandable that these products saw an increase. Washers and Dryers also saw 870 and 770 bps increases respectively as people found themselves spending more time at home.

Why Omnichannel retail trends are so important: Major Exercise Equipment

It was shocking to see Fitness Equipment (which includes pieces of major exercise equipment such as ellipticals, treadmills, spin bikes, and weight benches) with such a low online sales growth rate from Q1 to Q2 2020. The past year has been full of buzz about the difficulty around sourcing exercise and sports equipment and the explosive growth of brands like Peloton. However, the reason its growth rate was so low is that consumers were already comfortable buying sports equipment online. Omnichannel availability has been extremely important for this category. In fact, since the beginning of the pandemic, 3 out of every 4 major fitness equipment purchases are made online. Compare this to Kitchen and Bath, which saw a very high rate of growth, but still breaks down to only about 25 percent of the category’s sales being made online.

The US market has shifted itself considerably to meet the changing needs of consumers throughout the pandemic. This paradigm shift has emphasized the importance of following omnichannel trends—consumers are eager to make purchases in the ways that are most convenient and feel safest to them. Will online shopping growth slow somewhat or level off as seen in the two most recent quarters?  Or will the resurgence of the pandemic drive online shopping to even greater heights?  If you would like to monitor the evolving trends or take a more targeted look into your own category, contact a TraQline account rep today. We would be glad to help you understand how best to meet your buyers where they are.

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