“It’s been said that there are three kinds of marketers and how they deal with trends: Those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.”
(Forbes - Brand and Marketing Trends for 2015)
Global consumer E-commerce sales are expected to reach 1.92 trillion dollars this year. In the US, e-commerce sales this year will top $350 billion for the first time. The impact of the Internet on the retail experience is no longer some hypothetical possibility - it’s real, and it’s causing many retailers to reevaluate their strategies.
To successfully compete in this space, e-commerce businesses must first understand the expectations of online shoppers. Customer behavior has changed dramatically since the days of traditional shopping in brick and mortar stores. Power has shifted dramatically in favor of shoppers who now demand a broad array of choices, fair prices, and a high quality, convenient shopping experience. Consumers know they have this power and they use it consistently.
Shoppers want to research online
Our buyers now go online first to research, find, review, and complete their purchase experience (or pick up the item in store). In fact, more than 80% of all shoppers studied by PwC said they conduct online research before they buy electronics, computers, books, music, and movies. In addition to these product categories, 60% of shoppers globally (and 73% in the US) conduct similar research online before buying clothing, footwear, toys, and health and beauty products.
“Online research doesn‘t just lead to online purchases, it‘s also critical in leading to purchases through other channels and in driving traffic to physical brick and mortar outlets.” - PwC
While it might seem counter-intuitive, online commerce is a core component - if not the most important one - of an omni-channel commerce strategy.
Shoppers want to buy on the channel of their choice
Even if purchasing from the same retailer, shoppers want to buy goods across more than one channel. 86% of global shoppers (65% in the US) currently shop across at least two channels, while 25% of global respondents and 21% of US respondents are using four or five channels to shop. This growing trend of multi-channel shopping has radically changed the way buyers shop, and defines the kind of retail customer experience that must be delivered.
Shoppers want to be in control
Online shoppers are savvy, having learned to exploit shopping data and become experts at taking advantage of deals. 46% of Generation Y shoppers and 36% of Generation X shoppers agreed that they can more readily locate information on their personal mobile device rather than asking a salesperson for assistance. This is an absolute sea-change in how retail operates and requires business agility to adapt to this new customer behavior quickly.
E-commerce shoppers have the tools to search, analyze, and decide what is the most suitable option for them, anytime at their convenience. This means they have more control over what to buy, who to buy it from, and all the other options offered to them.
Shoppers want options
Our online buyers are used to selecting from a wide range of products without any constraints. Expanding product inventory is a clear benefit of creating an online Mirakl Marketplace for your business. This matters in an age of instant gratification where shoppers are seeking options -- seeking what they want, fast, and for the right price. In this age, retailers are presented with an opportunity to provide consumers with more choices, improving and streamlining the shopping experience and driving incremental revenue, both via net new purchases and the repeat business that comes from satisfied customers.
Buyers want you to keep up with the pack
Expectations are high - just look at the popularity of consumer brands such as Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, and TripAdvisor. These brands have normalized the fluid and frictionless world of giving customers what they want, when they want it. The user experience of these companies is as important to their success as the products or services they provide.
What these brands have done for the majority of online retailers is to set the bar high. Your buyers, who are using these services, expect the same convenience, quality products, quality service, fast shipping, and right price point through the online experience. They have little patience for brands who can’t keep up.
There’s no doubt our world of online shopping is reshaping how retailers need to operate in order to compete successfully in today's market and to satisfy and retain consumers. In fact, it’s consumers who are leading and shaping the multichannel trend - not retailers according to PwC.
Are you prepared?
To avoid lagging behind, we retailers quickly meet and exceed the new expectations of demanding, dynamic, and volatile buyers. After all, they are one click away from our competition.
Are you prepared to earn the loyalty of these shoppers?
Written by Barry Murphy
Barry Murphy is the Director of Content and Product Marketing at Mirakl. In this role, Barry leads the alignment of Mirakl's offerings to market needs for the next generation of online commerce. Barry previously ran product marketing organizations for X1 and Mimosa Systems (now part of HPE). Barry also had a highly successful stint as Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Barry received a B.S. from the State University of New York at Binghamton and an M.B.A from the University of Notre Dame.