How consumers shop – some lessons

After a laughably dumb registration process (use fake data) you’ll find the  ChannelAdvisor report on How Consumers Shop Online.

Let’s start with a caveat – the sample size is 824 people from 29 states in the USA, but there is no information on how this sample was selected. We should probably therefore assume that the sample has bias, but see what we can learn anyway. (It’s actually really hard to remove bias from surveys, and if they had done this properly then they would probably say so)

The report is pretty, but pretty short, and has 6 findings:

· Consumers are researching more and are spending less.
· Shoppers don’t necessarily realize where they buy.
· Amazon and eBay contribute to 70 percent of purchases.
· On-site purchases are driven by value enhancers, security features.
· Search is integral to the purchase decision.
· Comparison shopping engines can’t be ignored

The most interesting one to me is “Shoppers don’t necessarily realize where they buy.” This was a big outcome, but it was inferred from, well not much:

When asked where in the past six months they had purchased a product online, 17 percent believed they had actually purchased a product from a major search engine.
And when it came to comparison shopping engines, seven percent believed they had purchased a product from, Shopzilla, NexTag or PriceGrabber.

They drew big conclusions – perhaps a bit too big but definitely worth thinking about.

We believe this highlights a persistent trend in multi-channel retailing – shoppers don’t necessarily realize where they buy their products, but they will definitely use all the tools at their disposal to locate the deals they want.

Furthermore, just because consumers are able to use tools like comparison shopping engines to find deals, it doesn’t necessarily mean these individuals are aware of the sites they’re using.

With consumers laser-focused on the lowest possible prices and best deals available when they are ready to make a purchase, it continues to be imperative for online retailers to have a strong presence on as many channels as possible (search engines, comparison shopping engines, marketplaces, online storefront, affiliates, email).

There were three interesting charts in the report: Americans spend a lot of money online each month:

It’s clear that stores should offer free shipping – it is cheaper, much simpler for buyers to understand – and it works:

Amazon rules the roost in the USA – and eBay’s woes continue.

Published by Lance Wiggs


2 replies on “How consumers shop – some lessons”

  1. “Shoppers don’t necessarily realize where they buy”:

    While you’re right to question the validity of the sample, this reminds me of the Google “What’s a browser” video where they asked the question to 50 New Yorkers – and many said Google.


  2. I’m not so sure about the importance of free shipping.

    The purchasing influences table doesn’t include item price. I’d expect price to exceed free shipping in terms of purchasing influence and that it’s better to reduce the item cost and charge a small simple shipping fee. A lot of research out there supports this.

    Amazon Prime is a different case as it influences purchasing volumes.


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