The pandemic has caused a huge shift in online shopping, with over $708 billion being spent online in 2020 – an 18 percent increase compared to 2019. Brick-and-mortar retailers were forced to adapt quickly to keep from going under, which meant that those who did not have an ecommerce website then had to figure out a way to keep selling their products with closed doors.
Most of 2020 was spent with those brick-and-mortar retailers building their ecommerce websites, increasing their technology usage, or utilizing data to keep consumers intrigued and ensure things ran smoothly. With 2020 now under our belts, it is time for indie retailers to put the final touches on their websites and be the real competition against retail giants.
Determining Factors for Consumer Purchasing Decisions
A new report conducted by iAdvize, the leading conversational platform being used by major brands and retailers across the world, along with YouGov, surveyed 1,342 consumers in the U.S. to a deep dive into what was most important for influencing shoppers’ purchasing decisions. Opinions from other customers came up as by far the most important factor (69%) with the website’s own recommendations coming in second (31%).
Here are some other factors that influence consumers’ shopping behaviors:
- Talking to a real human via only chat – 27%
- Specialists online forums – 19%
- A customer service phone line – 15%
- Expert recommendations – 15%
- Chatbots – 11%
Consumers Want to Speak with Humans When Shopping Online
When making a purchasing decision, customers are expecting better customer experience and to be able to instantly connect with a human online if they have any questions. In the report, 61 percent of respondents said they would leave a website if there was no live chat or an instant way to connect with customer support, with 74 percent reporting that they are more likely to revisit a store that offered them the ability to instantly connect with a real human either via live chat or video support.
“In a hugely competitive online world where Amazon is only a click away, consumers are gravitating towards online stores that offer the ability for them to be able to instantly connect with a real human to answer any questions or to help complete the sale,” Terrence Fox from iAdvize said in a press release. “As people are isolating and being forced to shop online more, the need for more human interaction while shopping has become more apparent.”
Specialists Online Forums
As a way of getting opinions from other customers, many consumers go to forums such as Reddit to see what other shoppers think about a certain product. This social media platform allows users to post a question asking for other users’ opinions or advise on any specific topic, and anyone can respond. This process is quite similar to customer reviews on ecommerce websites, so even though retailers cannot control what people say on these forums, it is important to at least have customer reviews so shoppers can see what past purchasers thought of a specific product.
This is where influencers come into play, and they have been a huge hit with brands, especially during the pandemic. Since most consumers have been shopping online, it ruins that in-person testing experience with products. Shoppers cannot feel the item or see how it would fit, and influencers can help bridge this gap to help create that in-person testing experience without leaving their home.
“Influencers can be a great way to get your brand’s products exposed to an influencer’s audience but the brand should make sure that influencer’s audience has buying power,” Ryan Sauer, Director of Digital Marketing at PowerChord, said. This means that if a product is more expensive and valuable, then the influencer’s audience needs to fit the right demographic, which includes household income. Otherwise, the brand’s products are getting exposure, but not with the right potential buyers.
Chatbots offer three immediate benefits to customer service teams: faster response times, better agent utilization and data collection on what customers need. Even if you have an FAQ page on your website which answers most of these questions, sometimes consumers are in a hurry and do not want to read through paragraphs of information. A quick response from a chatbot satisfies the customer, gives them more knowledge about your brand, and saves a sales associate from stopping what they are doing to answer the phone.