The COVID-19 pandemic changed different facets of our lives and affected several industries. One other thing that has changed is the online shopping behaviors of college students around the world.
Since the pandemic started, more people had to settle for online shopping more frequently than before. In addition, they were reliant on the internet to get news, digital entertainment, and health-related information.
People in developing economies made the most significant switch to online shopping, and this move to a digital world is courtesy of the pandemic. As the economy starts to recover, we will see these changes have lasting effects over time.
The global growth of online shopping means an urgency to ensure that everyone can seize the opportunities that digitalization offers as the world starts to recover from the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, college students were the demographic with the highest number of online shoppers, and schools struggled to manage the spike in deliveries and packages on campus. This has only got worse since the pandemic with college students spending more time online and doing all their shopping on the internet.
By understanding the online shopping trends with college students, universities and colleges will know how best to manage the increasing package volumes, improve the students’ experience, and save time and money for their staff.
Social media influences college students’ shopping behavior
College students are mainly a mix of millennials and Gen Z and have a buying power of up to $143 billion – and make up 40% of the customers. These generations are connected digitally, so it is not any surprise that social media is the biggest driver of their online shopping behavior.
Up to 90% of college students use Instagram, and about 50% of them buy through the platform. Also, 80% of them use Snapchat, and 50% on TikTok. In addition, over 90% of people between 18 and 24 use YouTube every week, at least once. This is why eCommerce marketers tend to focus on college students as their target for marketing and branding through social media platforms.
This shows how influential social media is in determining the online shopping behavior of college students – than other generations. As a result, colleges and universities have to prepare for more deliveries and packages influx as college students shop online with their mobile devices.
Rise of online grocery shopping
Online grocery shopping is gaining more popularity among college students today because of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, less than 4% of US grocery spending was online. However, this number rose to about 15%.
Now college students order groceries online more frequently, and they are buying in large quantities. According to a report, this increase in online grocery shopping is not restricted to college students alone; most Americans now do most of their shopping online due to the pandemic. The same report also reported that online grocery shopping will reach $250 billion by 2025 and will also make up 21.5% of grocery sales.
The fact that college students also have to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival on their campuses and given that there are still positive cases being identified, means that online grocery shopping will only increase further among college students.
COVID-19 drives more online purchases.
According to a study by ecampus.com, students’ average amount on daily items every year is about $60 billion. This is a huge figure, but it’s expected only to increase now and in the coming years due to the effect of the pandemic.
In addition to this, Adobe stated that from January to July 2020, the amount of money put into e-commerce spending was $434.5 billion. That figure was more than $90 billion more than the initial forecast for the year given in the January of the year. This is because the growth of eCommerce in the year 2020 saw it exceed the amount spent in 2019 by a large sum, and this was because most people were forced to move most of their spending online because of COVID-19.
Delivery companies also experienced a significant increase in the volume of packages delivered in 2020 compared to the previous years. To put things into perspective, package volume already rose to an all-time high in 2019 before the pandemic came along. Now consider the effect of the pandemic. With more people spending online, package delivery volume has increased massively and will only continue to do so.
Contact-free package deliveries
Another customer behavior that the pandemic has strongly influenced is the increasing acceptance of contactless package deliveries. Before the pandemic, not many online shoppers were keen on it, especially not college students, but that has changed now. More than 80% of customers prefer the contact-free option for retrieving their online orders and packages.
Now businesses have introduced a contactless way for teachers, students, and faculty to get their deliveries at a convenient way and time. An example of this is the use of smart lockers. These lockers deliver the students’ packages, and each person can use their phones to unlock the locker that corresponds to their order – avoiding all forms of contact.
This solution can help the schools meet local and state health guidelines. In addition, it reduces the contact with couriers and delivery drivers and increases safety across its students and mail service staff. Rather than the several personal interactions between the mail service staff and delivery drivers, and the students with the mail delivery staff, students can get their packages through this self-service solution.
These lockers eliminate the queues that students would have had to face and encourage social distancing within communal space, ensuring that everyone is safe.
More college students now spend more money online shopping because of the pandemic. Even as the world starts to recover from the pandemic, this level of spending is expected to remain or even increase post-pandemic.