When one considers the sheer sophistication of online shopping in 2019, it’s astounding to think that even those of us who ‘got in on the action’ in the days of eCommerce’s infancy has only been selling and/or purchasing goods online for maybe two decades or so.
If you were one of those people who started shopping on the web in the 1990s, you might remember just how much paranoia there was in some quarters about the ‘safety’ of eCommerce. You may well have had some second thoughts yourself about sharing your credit card details with Amazon back in 1999 – but fast-forward to 2019, and millions of us now do it very casually.
Today, we’re all accustomed to the idea that an eCommerce store can be just as reputable as a high-street one, while such intervening developments as ‘click-and-collect’ services have rather blurred the boundaries between online and offline shopping. So in today’s well-developed, multi-channel retail space, what actually makes us opt to purchase on the web rather than drive down the road?
Price is still a key factor… but it’s not the only one
Various studies and surveys have been undertaken over the years to provide answers to the above question. One especially intriguing report from KPMG a few years ago revealed the reasons that shoppers from across the world gave for buying online, instead of in stores.
Topping the ranking was, surely unsurprisingly, the “ability to shop 24/7”, as cited by 58% of respondents. Second in the list, however, was the “ability to compare prices”, 54% of those quizzed having said this, followed by the 46% who suggested “online sale/better prices”.
So, there’s no denying that even after all of this time, price is still a key priority for many online shoppers. However, there are also seemingly just as many statistics that point to a great all-round experience ranking similarly highly as an expectation among those purchasing on the web.
Did you know, for example, that according to PwC, 32% of customers have said that they would stop doing business with a brand they loved after a single bad experience? Or what about the almost two thirds (64%) of consumers who have admitted to avoiding a brand because of a bad experience they had within the last year? It was Medallia/Ipsos who came up with that last one.
I could also cite the software-as-a-service consultancy that analysed almost 900,000 transactions by nearly 21 million shoppers, and found that across a range of eCommerce categories, the price was not actually the top decision-making factor for many of these consumers. In fact, it was often beaten by such other ever-pressing priorities as returns policies, testimonials and customer support.
You get the idea; as persistent as the price has predictably been as a guiding factor in customers’ online and offline buying behaviour, you can’t consistently prioritise it for your own eCommerce store above basically everything else – or at least, not if you wish to retain loyal custom.
So, why are these other priorities so great for shoppers?
In many ways, customers placing a strong emphasis on the all-round customer experience that online stores provide, rather than just price, serves as a powerful testament to e-tail sites have become so much more than mere places to buy bargain or hard-to-find products that may not be easily encountered in the most obvious high-street stores.
If customer experience is important in a brick-and-mortar store – as I’m sure we can all agree on – I’m sure we can also agree that in today’s somewhat matured eCommerce space, expectations should be no lower for online stores.
It’s also crucial to acknowledge just how dire many eCommerce stores have long been – and continue to be – when it comes to living up to such expectations. How many times, for example, have you visited an online store and been confronted with aggressive advertising for the product that the shop has declared to be its ‘best’, but which was utterly irrelevant to your own needs?
All too many online stores still make the mistake of trying to command the shopper to ‘buy now’, with no apparent attempt to first ask, listen and gather contextual information about the personas of their likely customers. Bear in mind, too, that any given e-tailer will almost certainly have many different personas that purchase from their site, with each of these having different values and objections.
Unsure which next steps to take? Talk to me first
Such factors as the above give you all the more reason to eschew a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach to catering to your target audience, instead focusing on building every customer’s trust.
Whatever measures you adopt – and proven ones range from requesting that your customers share their honest reviews of your products or services, to placing a greater emphasis on being informative and relevant than constantly pushing the ‘hard sell’ – your ethos should always be to place your customers’ needs front and centre. Only by doing so can you hope to cultivate strong, long-lasting relationships with consumers that will help to drive up conversions and maximise loyalty.
Contact me, Myk Baxter, today, and we can begin to discuss the best steps for you to take with your own brand to transform its fortunes in the ever-competitive and evolving eCommerce space.