And despite some areas of the world reopening before others, digital growth continued to skyrocket in Q2 across all geographies we track in the Shopping Index. Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) experienced the greatest gains in digital spend (+140% over last year), followed by Canada (+111%), and the U.S. (+71%). As the summer months (or winter if you find yourself in the southern hemisphere) begin to heat up, digital spend shows no signs of slowing down anywhere.
What were shoppers spending their money on? Some of the highest growth was observed in toys and learning (+181%), health and beauty (+138%), and home (+134%) categories - 'essential' merchandise when it comes to enduring a lockdown.
Will we eventually see digital revenue growth go back to 'normal'? Yes, eventually growth will not be as aggressive as what we're experiencing now. But this growth has set a new baseline. While there will likely be some leveling off, as happens after the holiday surge, consumer habits won't snap back to the way they were. This dynamic sets the industry up for an interesting holiday, as retailers and brands attempt to forecast demand.
3. Contactless engagement moves from preference to mandate
The ubiquity of mobile shopping and the recent surge in social engagement may lead to a lot of digital shopping visits, but that does not necessarily translate to purchases. But this was not the case in Q2. If we take a look at data from the Snapshot Research Series by the Salesforce Research team, 37% of survey respondents are online shopping 'more than usual' and it's clear from the increase in conversion rate that they came with a genuine intent to buy.
But they're not just buying more via digital, the way they're buying is changing too. Over 35% of Americans report that they prefer more contactless delivery options. And over 30% are utilizing buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS) more often than they ever have before. For brands and retailers embracing tactics like curbside pickup or BOPIS, the upside is tremendous. Sites advertising buy online or curbside pickup options saw digital revenues grow by 127% year over year. Meanwhile, sites that operate physical stores but did not offer a pickup option only grew by 54%. As self-service becomes more ubiquitous, and fulfillment challenges heat up again in the latter half of the year, self-service pickup options are going to be critical.
When it comes to heading back into the brick and mortar store, more people than ever are using self checkout and contactless payment options. Meanwhile, 13% of Americans are buying more products directly over social media platforms. Unsurprisingly, millennials are the most likely to be influenced by their social feeds, with over 63% of respondents from this generation reportedly buying a product over social media since the pandemic's onset. In fact, purchases from a social channel referral saw the biggest increases in Q2, growing 104% across the entire industry.
What does this mean for the future of commerce? If there is one thing we know from almost a decade of analyzing consumer data, any surges in digital activity is always followed by a new baseline for digital commerce. As we look forward, this evolving consumer behavior will have a tremendous impact on major sales events slated for the second half of the year. How will shopper behavior change as the uncertainty of the pandemic continues into fall and holiday season? Stay tuned later this month when we will unveil our predictions for the holiday shopping season.
Q2 Shopping Index Methodology
The Q1 Shopping Index uncovers the true shopping story through analyzing the activity of more than one billion shoppers across more than 41 countries powered by Commerce Cloud, with a focus on key 10 markets: U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Spain, Japan, Netherlands, Australia/New Zealand, and the Nordics. This battery of benchmarks provides a deep look into the last nine quarters and the current state of digital commerce. Several factors are applied to extrapolate actuals for the broader retail industry and these results are not indicative of Salesforce performance.