A new report issued by the e-tailing group and sponsored by Oracle says that the majority of consumers (44 percent) now research at least half of all purchases online, a trend that encompasses categories from technology to commodity products and is fuelled by convenient access to the information that drives purchase decisions.
The report is based on a survey of the product research and shopping behaviour of 1,033 U.S. consumers and seeks to benchmark change in consumer shopping behaviour as e-commerce grows and the use of smart mobile devices gains popularity.
Consumers expect a robust commerce platform and high-touch store experience, as 81 percent say ease of research and comparison shopping is the number one reason they shop online, while 67 percent say the main reason they step inside a store is to touch and feel products.
Data confirms that price management strategies are critical, as 80 percent of consumers say price is the most important element when they choose a product, and price-comparison has become a well-engrained behaviour further fuelled by mobile.
Consumers employ multiple channels for nearly all categories. Seventy-five percent of consumers research tech purchases online before deciding to buy, and 50 percent of consumers say they now research commodity purchases online.
Laptop and desktop devices are still the dominant electronic product research and shopping vehicles (51 percent), followed by smartphones (32 percent). Consumers’ choice of device fluctuates based on need, timing and location, though smartphone usage is on the rise.
The commerce platform is central to connecting interactions and engaging buyers, as 44 percent of consumers research at least 50 percent of all purchases online before buying in any channel.
Data shows that purchases still benefit from a trip to the local store and personnel remain key to sales and satisfaction, as 40 percent of consumers say a savvy store associate can impact their final product selection more than a website.
“Today’s customers expect more than ever and take advantage of all available devices to problem solve, price shop and purchase,” said Lauren Freedman, President, the e-tailing group. “Retailers must be ready, as control has clearly shifted to consumers, with comprehensive information, consistent cross-channel experiences and compelling experiences essential for survival in our connected world.”
“For retailers to deliver the omni-channel experience customers are demanding, they must effectively manage operational and customer data across channels. Oracle helps connect cross-channel interactions and deliver actionable insight that enables employees to serve customers better,” said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Retail.