Research Consultant at USP Marketing Consultancy
More products are bought online
Since we started (2013) measuring consumer purchase behavior for home improvement products, we have noticed a steady growth of the European online channel year-by-year. We measure this by asking consumers what they have bought in the last year and where they bought it.
The growth of home improvement products being bought online differs strongly per country, as shopping behavior among shoppers varies. It also varies by product category. For example, when looking at paint roughly 4% is being bought online, while power tools this is already around 20% in Europe.
Most products are being bought online in Germany and the United Kingdom
Consumers in Germany and the United Kingdom buy more home improvement products online than their peers any other European country (see figure 1). There are several explanations for this. One explanation is the presence of Amazon. Amazon launched its web shop in Germany and the UK in 1998 and soon after that France followed. In the last couple of years we have noticed the so called ‘Amazon effect’, which is the ongoing consumer shift toward shopping online. Consumers are simply getting used to ordering their products on the internet. Since Amazon has already been present a long time in Germany and the UK, it is not surprising that consumers in specifically these countries buy home improvement products the most online. But what about France, then?
The conservative French consumer
Despite the expansion of the online channel in France, the majority of French consumers still remain loyal to their traditional shopping habits and buy their home improvement products at the DIY store. This behaviour is partly caused by the great performance of Leroy Merlin, the largest DIY-retailer in France. Leroy Merlin has a strong focus on service and accessibility and the French consumer appreciates this and likes to visit their physical stores.
However, it is expected that in the future more products will be bought online by the French for two reasons. First of all, Leroy Merlin is expanding its focus to the online channel even more and it is expected that customers of this retailer will more often buy the home improvement products online.
Next to this, ManoMano, a marketplace for home improvement and gardening, has reported a large increase in online sales in the last years and expects this increase to continue in the upcoming years.
The future of online buying
The ‘Amazon effect’ is changing the shopping behaviour of the European consumers to buying more home improvement products online. Amazon was able to create this shift by performing very well on customer experience, logistics, low price and customer loyalty via Prime. Now, it is even able to accelerate this shift by entering and aiming to enter more European markets and thus increasing the competition for the existing DIY chains. To counter this (anticipated) competition, most of the DIY chains have therefore a much stronger emphasis on the online shopping experience by optimizing their web shops. This in turn creates additional online sales, which will accelerate the before mentioned shift even more.
USP Marketing Consultancy expects that European consumers continues to buy home improvement products more and more online. However, there will of course still be a difference in countries and product categories. Product categories such as paint and adhesives are now at 4% while other products are already more than five times as much. It is hard to predict where this growth will stop, but it seems logical that some categories the online share will not become bigger than 10%. While in other categories the online share might reach 70%, which will result in big changes in the assortments of physical DIY stores for these type of categories.