At a time when conditions are changing rapidly, the retail sector has undergone major changes that have become even more pronounced due to COVID19. How does the Greek consumer feel today about the economy and his income? How have the costs per product category been affected and how are they going to be affected in the near future? What is most important when shopping online or in the physical store? How do you think retailers have responded today?

These were some of the questions we asked as part of the research we conducted for the retail industry in Greece, under the auspices of Greca (Greek E-commerce Association) in September 2020 on a sample of 1000 consumers aged 18-54 and in 50 retail companies (retailers).

What are the main changes in consumer behaviour?
Starting from how consumers see the prospects of the economy and their income, 54% of Greek consumers said they see them as neutral or optimistic and 46% from pessimistic to very pessimistic while 1 in 2 consumers believe that COVID19 has significantly changed their purchasing behaviour. More specifically, compared to the pre-COVID19 era, 78% of consumers said they do more research before shopping, 77% buy more online, 76% buy cheaper products, 66% are more careful about how they spend their money while 53% shop more based on their health.

It is noteworthy that 16% of consumers shopped online for the first time when the pandemic started and there is an increase in the frequency of online shopping by an average of 6.4% in all sectors with 60% of consumers saying they are willing to continue to buy all product categories online. Product categories that are willing to spend the same or more are related to health, groceries, personal care items(eg cosmetics) and entertainment (eg toys, books, etc.).

Factors that affect the shopping journey

A consumer’s shopping journey starts from the moment he researches a product until the moment he acquires and uses it. 4 in 5 consumers do research before buying, mainly on Google or price comparison sites, even if their purchase is made in a physical store. 2 in 3 consumers notice ads and 3 in 5 evaluate whether the brands they are going to choose promote sustainable practices and ensure fair working conditions.

But what makes the consumer purchase online? Convenience, better prices and of course health concerns are the main factors that lead the consumer to shop online. However, of the consumers who buy online, only 47% say they are satisfied, especially when they buy electronics and appliances, entertainment, clothing and personal care products. The factors that lead to greater satisfaction as described by the consumers themselves, are free shipping and returns (92%), the security of the transactions (91%), easy payment process (88%), next day delivery  (88%), customer loyalty programs (75%), mobile friendly website (77%), the ability to buy online and pick up from a store (67%) as well as purchase through an application (64%).

And because 8 out of 10 consumers leave the cart without making a purchase, it is important for businesses to know that the main reasons for dissatisfaction arise from the extra costs incurred at the end of the transaction (59%) and the mandatory account creation ( 27%).

But whether in online shopping or in-store, consumers have stated that the reasons for loyalty in a company are no longer so much the brand name as the value for money and customer experience (customer service & customer experience).

Adaptation of retailers to the new reality and digital transformation
For their part, retailers have confirmed the major changes they have identified. 87% noticed an increase in mobile shopping, 54% that customers buy fewer products, 53% that they make more reviews and 53% that consumers now recognise how companies contribute in society as a whole.

In an effort to adapt to the new conditions, companies have increased their digital marketing budget, invested in digital transformation and improved the customer experience, and increased their discounts.

Regarding their digital transformation, 65% stated that they have adopted digital tools so far to a large / very large extent. However, with a closer look, it seems that Greek retailers are still finding it difficult to adopt tools such as the use of artificial intelligence (91%), mobile applications (87%), electronic pricing (75%), cloud usage (67%). ) or big data analytics (60%) while 60% of companies stated that they have not adequately trained their staff. All these data prove that Greek retailers still have several steps to take to achieve their “coveted” digital transformation.

Conclusions & Next steps
Retailers need to adapt quickly to the new reality and to demanding consumers. Summarising

  • The collection and analysis of data on consumer behaviour (ideally for each customer persona) are necessary actions for each retailer to shape its strategy accordingly.
  • Habits adopted or enhanced through COVID19, such as online research and online shopping, will continue to exist and grow.
  • Today’s consumer “requires” to be informed, to buy, to build their relationship with a brand through the experience he has through various channels (channel agnostic), therefore ensuring a consistent and unique omnichannel experience is essential
  • Enhancing the digital transformation of your business is a key prerequisite for increasing efficiency by adopting the right tools and training teams in them

For any questions regarding the research or how we can support you in adapting your business to the new data, contact us at info@krataionconsulting.com