HKBU business study reveals the paradigm shift in consumers’ shopping behaviours in pandemic times, and suggests merchants recalibrate their e-commerce strategies in the post-COVID era
Professor Christy M.K. Cheung of the Department of Management, Marketing and Information Systems, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), collaborated with the Hong Kong Association for Customer Service Excellence (HKACE) to conduct a survey on “Online Shopping Experiences during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Hong Kong”. The survey result shows that nearly 50% of respondents switched towards the e-commerce platforms due to the pandemic; and the young generation tends to do online shopping via social media platforms, including live-streaming channels. The report recommends enterprises seize the opportunity of the paradigm shift in consumer behaviour in the post-pandemic era to adjust the sales strategy and enhance the quality of their e-commerce services to retain customers.
The survey interviewed nearly 500 local consumers, including university students and working adults. The survey indicates:
A shift from physical stores to e-commerce platforms
Affected by social distancing measures during the pandemic, 48% of the respondents have increased the frequency of online shopping, only 18% of the respondents still shop in physical stores. Around 80% of the students shop online every one to two days, which means that “Gen Z” has become the frequent online shoppers. The survey also pointed out that in addition to the traditional physical stores and online shopping platforms, consumers are looking for more diversified online shopping channels.
The importance of quality service on e-commerce platforms
In this survey, respondents were asked to evaluate their purchase experiences and the service quality of the online shopping platforms. On a scale of 1 to 7 (from strongly disagree to strongly agree), and the average score of the Hong Kong e-commerce service is 5.4, the result is very satisfactory. Most of the respondents also believe that the service quality of e-commerce platforms will directly affect their satisfaction with the brand, indicating that high-quality e-commerce service is becoming more and more important.
Core dimensions of e-commerce service quality
The survey shows that respondents mainly evaluate the quality of online shopping services based on three dimensions: user interface, privacy and fulfillment; other dimensions include system availability and responsiveness. This reflects that under the influence of the pandemic, consumers have set certain service requirements for online shopping.
“The pandemic has forced people to stay at home and consume at home, escalating the growth of e-commerce in Hong Kong. This structural change is here to stay and thus it is important to understand consumers’ online shopping experiences and offer merchants insights into retaining consumers and recalibrating their e-commerce strategies for the post-COVID era”, said Prof Christy M.K. Cheung.
"We believe that post-00s will soon become influential consumers," said Ms. Quince Chong, Chairman of HKACE. “With the swift demand for e-services, modern and innovative value-added services are important for merchants to uplift their overall customer service experiences. In search of service excellence in a new horizon, we have to explore new, interesting and relevant measures to win trust of our customers in the emerging e-services arena.”
About the researcher
Professor Christy M.K. Cheung is an internationally renowned scholar. She joined the School of Business at Hong Kong Baptist University in September 2006, and is currently a professor at the Department of Management, Marketing and Information Systems and the Director of the HKBU Research Office. Prof Cheung was conferred the title “RGC Senior Research Fellow” in the inaugural Research Grants Council (RGC) Senior Research Fellow Scheme in 2020 with a fellowship grant to support her research on providing cyberbullying solutions to social platforms. Her research interests include IT and user behaviours, social media and e-commerce platforms, IT and societal implications.