3 Ways Shopping Online is Changing … and Why Retailers Need to Keep Up
Online shopping is expected to reach the $300 billion mark in the U.S. by 2015, which is up from only $93 billion just 10 years ago. Retailers need to keep up with consumers’ ever-changing needs when it comes to shopping and making purchase decisions online. Here are three of the most critical ways online shopping is changing:
1. Consumers are bringing more of the decision process online. Originally online retailers built technology to support consumers that already knew what they wanted. Today's consumers are bringing more of the decision process online, looking for inspiration and advice from different channels and sources.
Think of Amazon.com. If you know what product you want, you do a product search and Amazon returns the product, price and shipping options. With one-click ordering, you're in and out with a couple of keystrokes and clicks. It's fast and efficient when you already know what you want.
But what if you don't yet know what you want?
In the past there weren't many options other than doing a general Google search. But knowing what information is viable and trustworthy is difficult, so you resorted to asking friends and family or a sales associate in-store for help. This decision process is moving online, and the amount of information out there to assist in that decision is numerous and fragmented all across the internet.
2. Consumers are blurring offline and online when making purchase decisions. There's always been a clear line between online and offline shopping. Consumers today expect to move seamlessly between online and offline and from mobile to desktop device.
Think of the consumer that gets inspired after seeing an outdoor patio set at a brick-and-mortar store. It gets them thinking; maybe they take a picture of the patio set and text it to their significant other. They go home, talk to their spouse, look at their current patio set and realize it's time for a change. They go online to get more ideas, inspiration, check out reviews, etc. They ask close friends or family for their opinion. They head back to the store to look at options and get feedback and advice from the store's sales associate. When they're confident with their decision, they'll research where they can find the best deal — in-store or online — and ultimately make the purchase.