Shopping online is convenient and easy – and, for many this year, the only way to shop. Yet the thought processes and decision-making mechanisms we go through aren’t the same as those we do when faced with products on shelves in a shop, so our buying behaviour differs. Consumer review website Feefo has interviewed over 2,000 UK shoppers in-depth to understand more about the processes involved in choosing to buy online, and the output and aftermath experienced as a result.
The purchase decision-making process that happens before anything is actually bought is where customers identify their product or service need, search out the information they need or want on it, and then evaluate and compare their options. When all these processes have been completed (even if they’re very brief) and satisfied, a purchase is then made. These processes are key for online retailers – as if they don’t cater to their customer’s needs correctly, they’ll never progress through the pre-purchase stage to actually take action and buy something.
There has long been a preconception that products are cheaper to buy online than off, due to the lower overheads paid and costs incurred by businesses operating without high street premises. Whilst this may be true, it’s worth noting that consumers then will compare prices between online retailers too – and can do so quicker and with less effort online than they can in person. 82% of those shopping online surveyed said that price was the most important consideration in their purchase decision; a significant amount! This indicates a need for transparent pricing online and for price to reflect product or service quality; price being an important consideration doesn’t mean that a consumer will always opt for the cheapest item, but usually for what they consider the most appropriately priced.
Price isn’t everything, though! Feefo’s research also found that 20% of consumers will buy something for their image or to impress others, and that 28% favour product quality over anything else. 26% of consumers like to buy from somewhere they consider to have helpful staff; even if they haven’t interacted with them themselves.
Indeed staff interaction can be rendered unnecessary if customer service concerns are dealt with without the need for manual intervention. 80% of those surveyed used FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on online stores to answer their queries and 48% were happy to answer pop-up questions if it would help better their navigation of the site.
When offered correctly, the online shopping experience can be efficient and easy for consumers, but Feefo’s research demonstrates one thing for sure – price is a headline, and the story may not be read if it doesn’t draw attention.