The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in online shopping as Aussies seek convenient retail therapy in tough times with a click of a button.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in online shopping as Aussies seek convenient retail therapy in tough times with a click of a button.

Insane rise of online shopping apps

Gone are the days of shoppers being wary of the web, as hunting down bargains with the click of a button becomes the COVID-safe transaction of choice.

Online shopping via mobile apps is not only convenient, but a safe option during the pandemic, and has created new opportunities for businesses to reach customers.

There has been a leap in demand for services such as groceries, food, clothing and electronics, according to analytics firm AlphaBeta.

"The coronavirus has created a surge of online shopping around the world," AlphaBeta director Andrew Charlton said. "It's forced many people, particularly older Australians, to try shopping online for the first time. And it will continue long after the coronavirus is over."

For many people, clicking keys and having parcels appear on their doorstep has been a weekly highlight.

Online sales through mobile phone apps grew nearly five times faster than physical store sales.
Online sales through mobile phone apps grew nearly five times faster than physical store sales.

Purchases via mobile apps are expected to make up three-quarters of all e-commerce transactions by 2021, based on research conducted by Liftoff and Adjust.

It found online sales through mobile phone apps grew nearly five times faster than physical store sales, while engagement on shopping apps has grown by 40 per cent.

Retailers such as Amazon Australia, eBay and Catch, and "buy now, pay later" giants Afterpay and Zip Co, have seen an increase in app engagement during the pandemic.

EBay Australia spokeswoman Sophie Onikul said more than 70 per cent of the e-commerce company's traffic came via their app.

"The eBay app was still the preferred way to shop during lockdown, despite people working from home and having easier access to their laptop or desktop," she said. "This is likely due to spending more time on the couch and playing on the phone while watching television."

Discount app Poppy saw a dramatic rise in its customer base, with 500 new members since April.

The app has enabled twins Sophie and Kate Taeuber, 31, to score a bargain with their favourite retail brands.

Sephora haul! Twin sisters Sophie and Kate Taeuber with their online purchases. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe
Sephora haul! Twin sisters Sophie and Kate Taeuber with their online purchases. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe

Browsing online during lockdown, Kate spotted a pair of Baxter Blue reading glasses she liked, but the price made her think twice.

What persuaded her to click "buy" was the discount provided by Poppy, which offered 10 per cent off the regular retail price.

"I've always wanted blue light glasses but I have always put off buying them," she said. "I jumped on Poppy and saw Baxter Blue was advertising a sale strictly for app users. It was the push I needed and they've made such a difference.

"The benefit of using discount shopping apps is it allows you to easily compare prices and helps you find the best deals online, which ultimately saves you money."

To use the app, shoppers put in their postcode and search for brands.

"It's free for businesses to publish a promotion online and works for brick-and-mortar stores," Poppy founder Amy Marshall said. "We help promote cafes, restaurants, salons and other local businesses."

Financial adviser Victoria Devine said it was crucial for small businesses and retailers to have a digital presence to be able to survive.

"These apps are providing a great platform for consumers to find discounts in one place, which is obviously appealing," she said. "They also provide retail brands with a platform to compete on … price."

More than 700 Australian small businesses have signed up to Poppy - to reach a larger audience, move out-of-season inventory, and also to keep employees paid and their businesses afloat.

Originally published as Insane rise of online shopping apps


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