Understanding how people shop in the year 2013

Industry News

How are people shopping nowadays? If you asked the opinion of big-box retailers, they would likely point to online eCommerce websites such as Amazon. Many merchants even blame these digital marketplaces for lost sales. Look no further than U.K.-based photographic retailer Jessops – the company went into administration earlier this year, and one store even posted a sign that read: "Thank you to all our loyal customers and to everyone else, thank you for shopping at Amazon.com."

However, several digital retailers have noticed prospective customers going to brick-and-mortar retailers instead of buying online. Wayfair is one of those companies, and noted that consumers would rather buy decor and furniture at physical retail locations.

So that still leaves us with the unanswered question of how people are shopping. It's clear that they aren't all shopping online, but they aren't all shopping at brick-and-mortar either.

A recent report from Millennial Media and comScore illustrates that the correct answer is that there is no definitive way to shop. Consumers use all the resources at their disposal to research potential purchases, complete the transaction and then receive the product.

The study illustrates the growing omnichannel (or channel agnostic) tendencies of consumers. Three years ago, consumers spent 84 percent of their shopping time on desktop computers.

Consumers use all the resources at their disposal to influence potential purchases, actually complete the transaction and then receive the product.

Surprisingly, that number has declined to 49 percent – people are now shopping on PCs, smartphones, tablets and in brick-and-mortar stores more frequently. Shopping has turned into an exercise of convenience, and whichever retailer offers the right options to customers is the one who will secure the sale.

Online is the starting point, but not always the ending point
Although consumers are increasingly making use of a wide variety of retail options, that isn't to say eCommerce operations have become any less important. Rather, the study illustrated the tremendous value of having a wide-reaching online website for customers to use.

Even with the amount of time spent shopping shifting to other platforms, as many as 45 percent of shoppers start on the Web, reading customer reviews, researching products and comparing prices and features. From there, customers may either decide to finalize the purchase or head into brick-and-mortar retail stores.

Some of the key influencers of purchase decisions, according to the study, include customer reviews (35 percent), mobile coupons (33 percent), expert reviews (24 percent), store rewards (23 percent) and personal recommendations. Retailers should look to create a shopping experience that involves all of these different elements to maximize the chances of customers at least making a purchase.

The takeaway here is the importance of omnichannel offerings. Retailers need eCommerce software that can consolidate information across a variety of processes, from online order management to inventory optimization. This allows them to better react to the whims of their customers, regardless of how they want to purchase and acquire products.

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