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In this article, we take an in-depth look at the shopping habits, trends and technologies guiding brands and retailers in the age of experience-driven commerce. For the third year in a row, Episerver has surveyed more than 4,500 global online shoppers about their habits and expectations. Keep reading to discover the key themes and tactics that are needed to create standout digital experiences.
According to Episerver’s annual Reimagining Commerce report, 26% of consumers shop online at least weekly. This is just a small increase compared with last year’s report, which found that 23% of consumers made an online purchase weekly. So, what does this mean? It’s clear that the natural increase of how often people shop online is starting to stabilise. The plateau effect has left companies with added pressure to improve their shopping experiences or risk getting left behind.
Amazon reign supreme but content and experiences matter
Looking at the industry at large, leaders such as Amazon have disrupted the market – over the years they have perfected the ‘seamless’ transaction - changing customer’s expectations in the process. The consequences of the ‘Amazon Effect’ has had a knock-on effect throughout the industry. Making retailers feel the pressure that if they don’t step up their game then dissatisfaction will trickle down to their bottom line.
“87% of online shoppers compare what they find on a brand or retailer’s site to Amazon. Incorrect or incomplete content on a brand’s website and/or mobile app has stopped 97% of online shoppers from completing a purchase.”
The report shows that marketplaces like Amazon reign supreme by offering a wide variety of products and price options. However, it’s clear that ineffective content has major consequences for online retailers. Add to this, the fact that the average shopper’s path to purchase is far more complicated than ever before, with new players entering the field everyday - vying for the same consumer’s attention and wallet share. To compete, brands and retailers must implement standout Ecommerce, integrated content marketing and shopping experiences that build personal connections (that go beyond mere transactions).
Leading with relevant content and guidance first, purchases later
“Eighty-three percent of online shoppers intend to do something other than make a purchase when visiting a brand’s website for the first time.”
This trend is unlikely to change anytime soon – retailers need to get behind consumer’s instinct to browse now and buy later. Developing strategies to understand their consumers behaviours and preferences, rather than transactional information alone. This gives retailers a massive opportunity to develop experience-driven commerce focused on information and inspiration as part of an on-going conversation, rather than conversion alone.
“Online shoppers may turn to popular marketplaces and retail giants for perks like low prices, but they appreciate how brands and retailers can offer memorable, educational content experiences. For example, when shopping with brands and retailers via their websites, 26 percent of online consumers enjoy a company’s product information most, compared to just 11 percent for Amazon.” Personalised content, look-books, videos and similar tactics can help shoppers on their mission to find what they’re looking for, whilst maintaining brand loyalty. This is an area where Amazon will struggle to compete.
Voice-assisted shopping is most effective for repeat purchases
Compared with last year’s report, more online shoppers are turning to voice to make purchases online.
According to Episerver’s survey, “seventeen percent of online shoppers use voice devices to make purchases multiple times a month or more frequently, and 22 percent use the technology for research purposes in the same time frame.” Whilst the report shows a notable 83 percent growth in just one year, the survey showed a clear preference for voice research over voice for purchases.
Voice-enabled commerce is still in its infancy, so whilst voice purchases are growing in popularity it’s yet to be seen whether it will make a major impact as a purchasing add-on for online brands and retailers. In fact, 55 percent of online shoppers surveyed said the options of voice purchasing does not impact which brand or retailer they will buy from. However, 74 percent of the most frequent online shoppers (those who shop online at least weekly) report they are equally or more likely to buy from brands/retailers that offer voice purchasing.
The jury is out as to whether users will ever fully embrace a purchase where they can neither see nor touch the product they’re buying – a major roadblock for voice-enabled commerce. Therefore, there are grounds to consider using voice to attract frequent shoppers for repeat purchases, while using traditional channels to build relationships with new customers or less frequent shoppers.
Personalisation meets privacy
It’s clear that online shoppers crave personalised digital experiences, with 88 percent of respondents saying personalisation is a higher priority for brands and retailers in 2019, compared with the previous year. However, 93 percent believe it’s an even higher priority for companies to respect their privacy online.
Striking the balance between providing personalised experiences and privacy will be a top priority in 2019, going forward. If security matters to your customers, then it should matter to you.
The demand to respect consumers privacy hasn’t dampened the need for personalisation. It has however, added another layer to consider when implementing personalisation strategies.
All this means in the B2C-world, is to be more transparent about privacy in your communications and education. You can default opt-in online shoppers to personalised experiences but must never share their personal information without explicit consent. There is also a requirement to make it easy for consumers to opt-out or be ‘forgotten’ in the EU. Developments in the law have put pressure on online retailers to be more selective about which interactions need to be personalised. Adopting tactics to ensure shoppers feel their information has been used appropriately to improve their overall experience.
By being more transparent about what data is used and stored, you can help build trust and remove any potential privacy barriers to purchase.
Social media drives purchasing by younger consumers
Social media has evolved over the years to become a full-fledged shopping channel. Social programs offer opportunities to nurture relationships, build long-term loyalty and become a consistent part of a consumer’s everyday lifestyles.
According to Episerver’s survey:
- 12% of online shoppers use social media (i.e. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest) over a brand’s website for inspiration.
- 63 percent of respondents clicked on a social ad, and 33 percent of those shoppers went on to make a purchase.
- Fifty-two percent of online shoppers who use social media have clicked on an influencer’s post.
- 21% of online shoppers ages 37 and under turn to social media for inspiration online when they do not have a product in mind for purchase, compared to just 5% of online shoppers ages 38 and older.
It’s clear that social media marketing engagement and conversion is high, particularly amongst younger audiences. Industry giants such as Amazon lack a strong social presence. Brands that invest time and energy into their social media strategies can use the channel to reach a wider audience, before they even consider Amazon. By becoming a regular part of a consumer’s social lifestyle, you can inspire shoppers first and play a valuable role in their research and inspiration needs over time.
To find out more about how we can help you create valuable digital experiences with Episerver click here.
We are a multi-award-winning Ecommerce consultancy and in the past 12 months have won Magento's Shooting Star Award at its Imagine 2019 summit in Las Vegas as well as Episerver's Commerce Partner Of The Year.
For retailers – big and small – for whom success depends on growing online, we provide what it takes to sell better online. We do this by delivering class-leading Ecommerce websites that drive online growth and sales fulfilment solutions that facilitate next day delivery and customer service excellence.
We are independent and technology-agnostic but with close partnerships to several leading technology companies so we can always recommend the most appropriate platform for our customers' needs.
With a 20-year heritage in technology implementations, we take pride in helping our customers achieve long term benefits from the solutions we provide. We can do this, because we've done it before, for people just like you.
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