Nielsen Explores Consumers’ Connected Lives in Global E-commerce Survey: 53% of the Global Population is Online

What: Nielsen has released the results of its global connected commerce report, which reveals that
Why it matters: Consumers are spending increasingly more time on an expanded range of diverse digital activities. It is undisputed that internet accessibility, mobile technology and digital innovations are redefining consumers’ every interaction and will continue to enable and disrupt many aspects of consumers’ lifestyles well into the future.

This is the digital era, and as such, we are now living a connected life. That's the idea that Nielsen has proved with a global survey sent to 30,000 online consumers in 64 countries. The Nielsen Connected Commerce report provides insights into the global connected consumer, shopping traits, category evolution, and barriers, in order to identify future growth prospects.

According to Nielsen, 4 billion people (53% of the global population) are connected to the internet, and nearly all of them (92.6%) connect using their mobile devices. 85% of users (3.4 billion) connect to the internet and spend, on average, six and a half hours online. Consumers get online more often, and they stay connected for longer. It shouldn't surprise us, then, that the range of activities that can be done online has increased. "Internet accessibility, mobile technology, and digital innovations are redefining consumers’ every interaction and will continue to enable and disrupt many aspects of consumers’ lifestyles well into the future," declares the report.

Development in retailing has quickly become greater in scope than either the physical or virtual store, and now manufacturers and retailers need to create strategic advantages across channels, touchpoints, and experiences along the purchase journey. Connectivity is laying the foundation for e-commerce growth; it is vital for companies to learn consumers' online behavior and habits, adoption drivers, tipping points and challenges.

Better connectivity will boost e-commerce

Connectivity's importance comes from the advantages it has brought upon our lives; it has permitted to do all sorts of things without leaving our homes, from talking to our friends on the other side of the world to receiving just about anything we need at our doorstep, right when we need it. As the report explains, at no point in time could this be more apt than now, considering the merging of multiple factors impacting the complexity of consumers’ lives—and shaping new found shopping experiences. In general, brands need to take three things into account: people now lead busy urban lives and need quicker, easier ways to perform their shopping activities; retail is expanding into new avenues and channels; and we must take into account a whole new generation of native digital shoppers who are used to using these devices and services naturally every day.

The report shows that global online sales in 2017 totaled US $2.3 trillion2 or 10.2% of total retail sales and is expected to reach 17.5% by 2021. In 2019, online retail trailblazer, Amazon, will turn 25 years old. With continued technological innovation e-commerce growth is set to outpace traditional formats for years to come. As the report states, "The combination of existing connected consumers spending more, more often, and newly connected consumers purchasing for the first time will proper e-commerce growth".

Category performance shows a certain trend of diversification

Travel, entertainment (books, music, events) and durable goods (fashion, IT/mobile, electronics) are traditionally the leading categories for consumers to enter the online retail sphere around the world. After two decades of e-commerce, these categories have higher online purchasing penetration and frequency of purchasing than most consumer goods categories.

The consumer is at the center of the connected commerce opportunity. An e-commerce approach that delivers on the various and varied local consumer preferences and circumstances will have a competitive advantage, but those who solve consumers' convenience aspirations will win.

However, consumers are looking for a wider range of e-commerce options. With a myriad of services, suppliers, products, and prices to choose from at simpler, more trustful websites, consumers now want to complete transactions online more often. This means a significant opportunity for FMCG categories, which need to be replenished periodically and take up a sizeable portion of consumers’ time to shop in physical stores.

According to the survey results, 17% of consumers are purchasing FMCG products online on a regular basis, while 11% have previously purchased online, but not recently. In addition, 30% of consumers are not currently buying groceries online but are willing to consider doing so in the near future. In developing markets this intent is just as important, with 29% of African and Middle Eastern consumers and 42% of Latin American consumers open to online purchasing.

Seek engagement before purchase

Consumers usually go online looking for information, to compare products and prices before actually buying something. Digital media assets are becoming a vital part of building awareness and consideration, satisfying shoppers’ search needs and delivering tangible links to generate purchase outcomes. As we could expect, it's all about providing a differentiating experience: as e-commerce continues to evolve there are numerous areas to improve consumers’ overall online experience that will encourage trial and steer conversion to online. With convenience as one of the primary motivators for connected commerce, shoppers are looking for a frictionless experience which saves time, reduces obstacles and provides an enjoyable experience.

Enticers to buy online

Retailers can further solve consumers’ apprehensions via interactive services and guarantees. Same day replacement, free delivery for high-value orders, responsiveness and money back for incorrect orders feature highly to encourage online purchases of consumable products.

In the words of Sue Temple, VP, Global Consumer Insights Product Leadership, Nielsen, "The consumer is at the center of the connected commerce opportunity. An e-commerce approach that delivers on the various and varied local consumer preferences and circumstances will have a competitive advantage, but those who solve consumers' convenience aspirations will win."

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Janet Grynberg @grynberg_janet

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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