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How online is changing our shopping habits

By Tim Fuell - June 20, 2014

eDigital ResearchA new consumer survey from eDigital Research suggests that online shopping has changed the way we shop. The survey suggests that the days of the impulse buy in particular could be numbered, with online buyers using the convenience of favourites to re-order regular groceries, which in turn is seeing lower basket sizes as people just buy the essentials.

Of course, part of that could be down to the economic times as people look to restrict non-essentials too, but the study suggests that retailers need to understand the new breed of shopper and that online is not simply a reflection of the offline equivalent. Big data is one way retailers can examine how their customers buy and what interactions are important to them.


One of the other findings in the report suggests that brand loyalty is less strong when buying online and price may be a bigger factor with customers capable of sorting by price far easier than in a real store. With the traditional impulse buys no longer having the pull they once had, online retailers need to use promotional pricing as a way to entice those additional purchases. The art of the upsell too, could become even more important to ensure that customers are not completing transactions below their potential.

Not just grocery

The survey was based on grocery shopping, but food and drink purchasing isn’t the only buying habits set to be changed by online opportunities. This week Amazon announced its first move into the smartphone marketplace with a clear indication that it will be more of a shopping ‘wand’ than a simple mobile phone.

Amazon Fire Smartphone

Image: Amazon.com

Image: Amazon.com

The Amazon Fire Phone competes with fellow smartphones in the market with a 4.7  inch screen with 720p HD resolution, a 2.2GHz processor, 2GB RAM and a minimum of 32GB storage to serve the 13Megapixel rear and 12Megapixel front cameras. Yet, it is built clearly to serve Amazon further in its place as the world’s leading online retailer.

Whilst many are raving about the Dynamic Perspective system that provides scrolling and tilt menu functionality as well as a 3D capability, the key tool will be Amazon Firefly. Using the Firefly button the phone shows how smart it really is, taking images it sees and putting them into context to eliminate the need for a multitude of button pushes. What does this have to do with shopping? Everything! We already know more and more people use high street stores to browse, touch and feel before going back home and ordering online at a better price. Firefly enables that and speeds the process up. You won’t need a barcode scanner app, just Firefly and wave your phone over a product to automatically be transferred to the Amazon website where no doubt more often than not the product will be much cheaper than buying in-store.

Shopping wand

With the added benefit of a Shazam style music recognition and TV/film recognition functionality that will also take you straight through to the Amazon site to purchase what you identify, this is a shopping wand designed to further increase Amazon’s dominance in the retail world. It is also all about customer experience and with its dash of gamification it could well be the next chapter in how we shop.

So the technology is almost here, well actually it isn’t. It will be soon be available in the USA but there are no plans to launch it in the UK just yet – much to do with the linking of the system to external sites etc probably. Yet, it does appear to be the future of shopping. How we shop, even when, where and why we shop could about to be turned on its head and we already know times were a changing, shopping habits will never be the same again.

Do you agree that ‘magic wand’ style shopping will become the future of buying?