GlobalWebIndex: 7 Out of 10 Adult Internet Users Purchase Products Online Each Month

What: GlobalWebIndex has presented its latest analysis of e-commerce behavior and engagement levels.
Why it matters: This survey will help marketers understand the evolving dynamics of how people of all ages choose and purchase products online.

GlobalWebIndex has conducted a survey among internet users aged 16 to 64, using data from a wide range of international sources, including the CIA Factbook and the World Bank. The survey found that more than 7 in 10 adult internet users purchase products online each month, with slightly more traffic in retail sites such as Amazon. The age group from 24 to 44  is most likely to buy online; however, the figures are still considerably high and similar for all demographics. Consumers can be roughly divided into young and mature based on their purchase drivers and priorities: younger shoppers value entertainment and content giveaways, while older groups favor service and convenience.

Interestingly, online shopping has officially become a mobile-first activity, with younger consumer groups buying online on their mobile devices. Older consumers will keep PCs and laptops relevant, but the increase in mobile activity will allow for innovation in commerce solutions; to quote the study, "social commerce and 'new retail' will be primary benefactors here'". Nevertheless, the more 'new retail' expands, the more privacy will become a major concern. In order to provide a more customer-centric approach, brands will have access to unprecedented amounts of consumer data and will need to make sure the consumer's privacy is cared for. As shown in the graphic below, an important percentage of users has started to use 'new retail' technology such as voice-search tools, while location-based services and augmented reality tools are beginning to gain relevance.

The Rise of Fintech

Financial technology is gaining more and more traction thanks to the enormous popularity of mobile devices. Growing markets with relatively undeveloped infrastructures stand to benefit the most from mobile payments, however, some key mature markets like Sweden and the UK are also delving into the technology, even though their consumers have strong attachments towards their current card systems, holding back the adoption of digitalized payment options.

Online banking has already paved the way for mobile payment. Over 7 in 10 internet users are now conducting transactions with their smartphones only, which has prompted banking brands to renew their systems to keep up with the competition and the demand.

What Motivates Online Shoppers?

But having a smartphone at all times doesn’t make it an open door for advertisers to push their agendas. The study found that platforms need to approach the consumer in a non-intrusive manner. Even the role of social media is steering in the same direction: users are becoming less interested in personal sharing, and now use their social platforms mostly for buying online and catching up on the news since it’s more convenient to centralize their online activities in one place.

Even though search engines and consumer reviews are crucial to online product research, the study shows that younger, smartphone-centric users tend to use social networks and online video sites to inform their purchase. In a key finding, it was seen that many more reviews are posted than consumed. While younger groups tend to share their opinion of products online, it is the older groups who use them.

In the end, customers of all ages are driven by the same thing: getting the high-quality experience they expect when interacting with their favorite brands. It's not enough with driving purchases; after a transaction has been completed, "delivering on the wants and needs of a consumer is essential in winning them over as an advocate." No matter the platform, marketers must focus their efforts on delivering on the wants and needs of their consumers, and the rest will just fall into place.


Janet Grynberg

Janet has worked as editor and translator since 2013. After graduating with honors when receiving her Bachelor's Degree in English literature, she began working as a book reviewer for Expansión, the leading business magazine in Mexico. She has also worked as editor of young adult literature for publishing houses like Planeta and Penguin, and she's the author of a book of short stories. She's in the process of getting her MA in English at McGill University. Her interests include arts, good food, and her 8 pets.

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