In the past decade, e-commerce has fundamentally changed the way Americans shop. This has had far-reaching implications for how retailers operate. While many companies have adapted to a new reality in which physical outlets are seeing massive declines in foot traffic and online sales are the key to survival, reconfiguring marketing strategies to respond to these changes has required serious thinking about how shoppers behave differently when shopping online as compared to when shopping at a traditional retailer.
Decades of research have gone into understanding traditional shopping habits, and large retail outlets are carefully designed to provide maximal appeal. But what drives online shoppers? How does the Internet encourage different buying patterns, and in what ways do these differences impact the shopping journey? Perhaps most importantly, how can retailers make sure that they are providing the most intuitive experience for their online customers?
Understanding online shoppers and digital shopping trends is vital if you want to succeed in the 21st century retail industry, which is why at Yroo, we’re working to provide a bridge between retailers and customers that serves the needs of both. If you want to understand what your online customers are looking for, here are a few things you should keep in mind.
1) Digital Shoppers Are More Likely To Comparison Shop
The biggest way in which digital shopping is different from traditional forms of retail is that it allows shoppers to browse multiple items from multiple retailers at the same time. If someone walks into a shop in a mall looking for a new fan, they will probably purchase the most attractive option within their price range — even if they think there is a chance they can find a cheaper alternative on the other side of the building — because it saves time and energy. Online, these constraints are not present, and shoppers tend to consider a much wider variety of alternatives before buying, and many use price comparison apps and websites to streamline this process.
2) Digital Shoppers Value Choices That Are Streamlined
Because of the potentially infinite nature of online shopping — there are literally thousands of retail websites interested shoppers could browse — most digital shoppers either have a go-to outlet for online shopping (which may not always guarantee the best prices), or they use a price comparison app to filter their choices.
3) The Divide Between Traditional And E-Commerce Is Not Absolute
Online shopping is faster and more comfortable than shopping at a physical outlet, but physical outlets offer one major advantage: customers can actually handle the product before purchasing. When it comes to items like clothing, footwear, and other tactile goods, being able to feel the quality is an important part of the shopping experience.
Several studies, including this one by KPMG, have found that shoppers gather most of their information online, but may still prefer to buy some goods from a brick-and-mortar store. Understanding this dimension of the shopping journey allows retailers to be more strategic about their marketing. Making sure products are listed on price comparison apps and websites will help grow brand awareness that will translate into online sales and traditional sales.
E-commerce is big business. The most recent data suggests that in 2017, Americans spent $452.8 billion shopping online — more than 15% more than they spent in 2016. These figures are only set to grow as more retailers migrate online, drawn by the lower overhead and exponentially larger markets available to them through the Internet. Whatever else the future of retail holds, it is obvious that for the foreseeable future, online shopping is going to drive a significant portion of growth.
To make the most of the opportunities these new market realities represent, retailers need to understand how online shopping is different from shopping at a traditional brick-and-mortar store, and take advantage of online tools like Yroo which can help them expand their businesses and reach new customers.