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What Retail Customers Expect and How Your Business Can Deliver

June 18th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is your retail store or ecommerce site effectively competing in a multichannel world? A new study by hybris, the Multichannel Shopping Survey, found that the vast majority of consumers (80 percent) are more likely to be loyal to retailers that offer an integrated experience across all sales channels.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are facing stiff competition, according to hybris, with more than one-third of consumers (39 percent) saying they make more purchases online than in-store. Asked to project to the 2012 retail holiday season, 46 percent of consumers say they’ll do more shopping online than they did last year; just 8 percent will do more shopping in-store.

The trend toward “showrooming” is continuing, with 19 percent of customers saying they look for products on their mobile devices even while they’re in a physical store. The most common reason is to compare prices (66 percent), followed by comparing product choices (27 percent) and reading reviews or ratings online (7 percent).

Given all of this competition, how can your business compete?

Offer cross-channel pickup and return. Customers are more likely to shop online if they can pick up a product in a physical store and/or return it to a physical store. Some 45 percent of respondents said in-store pickup options for online purchases were important to them, and 28 percent said in-store return options for online purchases were important. More than 73 percent of respondents said offering these features would make them more loyal to a retailer.

Send personalized offers and customized promotions. Forty percent of respondents said they would be more likely to shop at stores that gave personalized offers, and 42 percent would be more likely to shop at stores that delivered promotions to customers’ mobile devices while they’re in-store.

Make it easy to shop online. The top factors encouraging customers to make online purchases were easy website navigation (cited by 59 percent) and a simple checkout process (57 percent).

Use clear, appealing images. The presence of product images was a crucial factor in purchase decisions for 42 percent of respondents. Conversely, lack of product images was the third biggest factor in customers deciding not to buy from a website. If possible, offer product shots from multiple viewpoints and add video so customers can see the product in action.

Manage shipping costs. Shipping costs that are too high were the top factor in dissuading customers from purchasing online, cited by 47 percent of respondents. With many consumers expecting free shipping, you should make every effort to offer this option. You can provide free shipping codes or set a certain minimum price above which shipping is free.

Finally, from the “common sense” file, out of stock items were the second most common reason consumers didn’t buy from a website. With online customers seeking instant gratification, waiting to receive a product just won’t cut it anymore, so make sure your inventory is always up to par.

“Consumers have expectations that their favorite retailers will be accessible to them anytime and anywhere,” said Steven Kramer, president of North America at hybris. “Retailers who aren’t keeping up with the latest technology will find their customers moving to a retailer who will.”

Find out more about the survey and download the whitepaper at the hybris website.

Image by Flickr user David Sifry (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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