Late night shopping is on the rise. It no longer belongs solely to night owls and last-minute shoppers ticking off a task before bed. Research by the John Lewis Partnership Card showed that out of every 15 purchases, one is made between midnight and 6am.
Purchases made in this six-hour window also rose by 23% in 2018 when compared with the previous year. So, what is behind this sudden increase in late night online shopping? In truth, there are a few factors to consider…
Busier work lives
According to research to by the Trades Union Congress, people in the UK now work more hours per week than anywhere else in the EU. Full time employees worked an average of 42 hours per week last year. This was almost two more hours than the typical EU working week.
On top of longer working weeks, people still have to find time for parental responsibilities, household duties and social lives. This can result in little time to themselves, and most of that free time being available when everything else is done. With so many people facing increasingly busy lives, shopping late at night may be the only time that they have spare.
Having access to online shopping 24/7 means that whenever shoppers are ready to buy, the shops are ready to sell. That also applies to consumers working extended weeks and longer workdays, who can use online shopping when they return from late or double shifts.
Availability of deliveries
The ecommerce world is changing, and so is the way that online stores view the delivery system. As companies battle for customers, the need for instant customer support, easier returns procedures and instant gratification is taking precedent. Among these requirements for modern shoppers, having 24/7 deliveries is becoming more widely talked about and considered by retailers.
That means the days of having to check out of an online order before a certain time to qualify for speedy delivery may be ending – removing any disincentive to shopping late at night.
This model of offering almost instant deliveries is already happening elsewhere in the world. In Beijing and Shanghai, Hema supermarkets (owned by Alibaba) offer round-the-clock 30-minute delivery options to their customers. This move has been well-received by late night shoppers, and retail giants in the West are trying to catch up.
Currently Amazon, which is the largest online retailer in the world, offers 1-hour Prime delivery options in cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and London. Having so many options mean shoppers are no longer discouraged from ordering at night as they know it will not affect their delivery choices.
In the meantime, online platforms like UberEats and Deliveroo are starting to catch on. Once reserved for ordering take-out, they now offer options to have groceries and other essential items delivered almost instantly from select stores. Shoppers can stock their fridge at the same time as ordering fast food, which paves the way for continued changes in how we shop.
Read our awesome article on the latest eCommerce Trends to Follow.
Age of audience
The age of consumers making purchases later in the evening also plays a role in the rise of late-night shopping. Fashion retailer, I Saw It First, agrees. They were the main sponsors for the 2019 series of ITV reality show Love Island. While sponsoring the show, they reported a peak in customer traffic between 9pm and 1am, with most of the customers aged between 18 and 24 years old.
Naturally, this boost was down to the show ending at 9pm. Viewers wished to buy the clothes they had seen and visited the retailer for late night shopping. With plenty of products featured on such shows are promoted by influencers or reality stars on social media platforms, the ability to receive ordered items in a rapid timeframe means that purchases can be worn in record time while still highly on trend.
Technology is always changing, which plays a key role in late night shopping. The past few years have seen a strong increase in home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa. These devices accept voice commands and can plan schedules, update calendars or even organise your shopping list when you tell them to.
If an item has been forgotten, for example, the devices can be instructed to add an item to an online shopping cart. The cart is then updated without shoppers having to lift a finger. Because there’s no need to log onto a computer or even use your smartphone, these devices could be contributing to late night shopping too. Users can order something whenever it crosses their mind, which may well be late at night.
Can brick and mortar keep up?
Late night shopping is a big opportunity for online retailers. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be an area where traditional brick and mortar stores can compete. To do so, they would need to open stores for longer hours, which means more staff and inevitably higher costs – which is one of the main reasons traditional stores are struggling to compete with ecommerce more broadly.
On top of that, many of the factors contributing to late night shopping online, such as busy lives, convenience and a younger audience, simply don’t fit with shopping instore. That begs the question, would late night shopping even take off at a brick and mortar store?
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