UK online revenues up in March, but consumers take longer to buy - Wunderkind
Online retail revenues were “resilient” in March, despite the continuing effects of the cost-of-living crisis in the UK. That's according to the latest data from Wunderkind’s Marketing Pulse that analysed over 149.2 million shopper journeys.
It found that web revenues rallied, rising 36.6% year on year last month. Yet there were also signs that consumers are taking longer to reach a buying decision as they look for the best price and make sure that they really do want to spend. This was suggested by web traffic rising 60% “as consumers exercised spending caution”.
And Wunderkind said that e-tailers really need to provide incentives to push consumers over the line as far as the purchase decision is concerned.
It added that consumers “continue to display prudence around spend, taking more time browsing for deals and offers, and displaying longer consideration phases as they validate purchases and seek out the best price”. They seem to be requiring a higher number of browsing sessions and web visits to make purchasing decisions.
The month’s revenues were helped by Mother’s Day, with conversions up. But even with this boost, web revenues in the week preceding Mother’s Day (19 March) were down 5.7% year on year, pointing to “consumers scaling back or opting for cheaper gifts”.
Across March as a whole, web conversions were up 80.8% compared to the year before, “which points to demand resilience despite discretionary spending being squeezed”.
The data also showed that traffic to retailers’ websites across Q1 (1 January-31 March) rose 41.6%, likely to be the result of the same ‘cautious consumers browsing for longer’ trend having an impact all year.
Wulfric Light-Wilkinson, General Manager, International at Wunderkind, said: “Consumer spending remained resilient last month despite the ongoing pressures on household finances. We saw higher levels of online sales in March compared to the same month in 2022, which will be encouraging to retailers, but it’s certainly worth highlighting that the way consumers are making their purchases is shifting. [With] more prolonged consideration phases, retailers need to think about the frequency, as well as the timing, of customer engagement, as shoppers are taking longer to move from browsing to buying.
“This is an opportunity for ambitious, creative retailers to make their mark. By coming up with engaging, atypical campaigns, deals and offers, brands can entice lapsed as well as loyal customers back to site, and encourage them to convert. By re-engaging customers around abandoned baskets, product and category searches, and back in stock reminders, and by intelligently using personalised, triggered marketing communications, retailers can drive an uptick in sales.
“Providing offers, deals, discounts and competitive prices has always been vital to bringing in new customers and encouraging existing ones to return, but now these sweeteners are almost essential. Until the cost-of-living crisis abates, retailers will struggle to turn interest into buying intent unless they have such incentives in place; the key is having the data to understand what consumers want, what they value most, what will encourage them to buy, and how these needs can be catered for.”
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