Today’s consumers have an abundance of options when it comes to purchasing products. In the past decade, the number of online shoppers has increased tremendously and almost half (45%) of consumers now browse Amazon first when looking for a specific product according to a recent survey by inRiver.
Although that is good news for many retailers, there is another side to this equation; the rate at which consumers are returning online purchases has increased as well, causing loss in margins for brands and a poor customer experience for shoppers.
Given the data around the significant numbers of online browsers and buyers, what can retailers do to reduce staggering number of returns that are impacting margins?
Fast Access to Product Information:
Online shoppers want information fast. Consumers are easily discouraged when seeking to purchase if the product information they require is not found quickly or available at all.
How fast do shoppers want their information? In 10 seconds or less. The good news is that 41% of online shoppers won’t consult another online store if all the information they need is provided in the first shop they visit.
But one third (31%) of shoppers will move to another website within 10 seconds if general product information is lacking. The most commonly searched for information is price comparisons (74%), general product information like fabric or ingredients (41%) and reviews (58%).
Knowing your customer preferences is the key starting point when marketing products correctly online. One third (33%) of study respondents say videos that show products in different contexts are most helpful in their buying decision. Additionally, almost one fifth (18%) of respondents want to see products demonstrated by influencers.
Creating videos to showcase product information is helpful, but brands need to know what platforms are preferred by their shoppers too, otherwise, they miss the mark. According to the study, YouTube and Facebook were ranked as two of the most trusted platforms that provide video information about products.
Providing product information across a variety of formats like reviews, descriptions, or videos is important in turning browsers into buyers. While this is great news for brands that shoppers appreciate multiple sources of information, it makes it challenging to deliver consistent, omnichannel product information without a product information management (PIM) solution. Marketing, product, and merchandising teams struggle to create and maintain relevant product information in one channel or format, let alone multiple channels and formats.
Reducing Return Rates
Product data needs to be accurate, detailed, and consistent. That’s not an insignificant task. How to best do this? Make sure to align your product information with your customers’ expectations. Products that do not meet customer expectations are often returned. In fact, 22% of consumers say the products that they buy online rarely meet their expectations, and nearly half usually or always return items (48%).
Providing products with limited pictures and videos does not make the online shopping experience exciting or engaging. What are shoppers looking for in terms of product information? Details, zoom capabilities to see close up, 360-degree views of products, dimensions, ingredients, and context of how the product or item can be used or bundled. If you are not doing that today, it is likely that product gets returned for not meeting expectations and that impacts the customer experience.
When return rates reach a critical mass, it impacts margins and reduces overall revenues. How much do returns impact business? For some of the UK’s largest retailers, the cost of servicing returns has spiraled to almost £60bn a year. That is never a good thing for even the most customer-focused brands. Revenue matters.
To ensure you deliver the types of product information and content browsers seek before becoming buyers, find out what is most important to them. Learn how to create compelling and consistent product that your shoppers can easily find and what it takes to avoid the margin-draining returns via the Turning Browsers into Buyers report here.
In this episode, we talk to Art Akerman about how we can use AI for marketing and PIM. Art leads a technology incubation team for Microsoft Services in Americas with focus on cloud technologies and advanced application workloads such as AI, the blockchain, and others. We talk about everything from automatic content generation and teenage chatbots to the singularity.
Do you have a topic for PIMtalk or would like to be a guest? We're always looking for great speakers and content. Email us at PIMtalk@inriver.com.
Want to know more about PIM? Download this free Whitepaper!
Alexa, play “Changes” by David Bowie.
Every year, technology gets more advanced, more multifaceted, and more pervasive. As that happens, the roles of e-commerce platforms become increasingly crucial for businesses seeking to meet their buyers anywhere and everywhere.
The largest country driving e-commerce is still China (Alibaba Group is only part of it), with annual online sales nearing 700 billion USD, but the US is picking up speed. With the help from industry leaders Amazon and eBay, the US e-commerce sector is growing tremendously — by almost 15% annually — and the forecast for the future is more of the same.
Of course, “the same” isn’t really the same: it’s growth and change, like we’ve always experienced. 2018 is revolutionizing the way consumers and companies communicate, sell, browse, and buy. To help you keep up, we’ve compiled a list of the 25 most important e-commerce statistics and trends to pay attention to this year.
What matters most
1. After price, the top three most important factors to consumers when they shop online have to do with the website’s design and functionality. 80% of consumers say price is very or somewhat important to them, with easy product search capabilities (78%), site performance (78%), and intuitive site navigation (75%), and a speedy checkout (75%) all close behind. 72% also said that customer product reviews were important to their online shopping experience.
2. 68% of consumers are more likely to trust a brand online when they see both positive and negative reviews, whereas 95% will suspect censorship or fake reviews when they don’t see bad ratings.
3. Less than 1% of consumers leave a site after seeing a badly-reviewed product, indicating that bad reviews don’t deter customers from a brand, but rather direct them toward things they will like.
4. 69% of people find UGC (user-generated content) more authentic and therefore trustworthy than brand-created or stock images.
5. The four leading e-retail categories in the US in 2017 (by sales) were consumer electronics at $54 billion, clothing at $48 billion, and furniture/homeware and hobby/stationery at $38 billion.
6. The leading online marketplaces in the US by e-commerce sales last year were: Amazon, Inc. (55 billion USD), Walmart (14 billion), and Apple and The Home Depot (6 billion).
7. An emerging trend in online retail is a visual search capability. In a 2017 survey, 35% of millennials and 30% of Gen X-ers expressed interest in being able to search for products in a physical store or online catalog using images, videos, etc. This is becoming increasingly present, with brands like eBay and Pinterest implementing visual search tools on their apps and websites.
Pinterest's visual search tool is now being used on the Target app. Users can find items similar to those they see and like by simply taking a picture of the item in-app.
8. 81% and 80% of respondents in a study, respectively, said email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention. Email’s usefulness was followed by that of other digital tactics like organic search at 62% for acquisition and social media at 44% for retention—both rated effective by far fewer respondents than chose email, and:
9. The most effective type of email is the welcome email (sent after a consumer subscribes to a mailing list), generating 320% more revenue per email than promotional ones.
10. The average B2B buyer/researcher is younger than 35 years old.
11. Forrester estimates that by 2021, B2B e-commerce will reach $1.2 trillion and make up 13.1% of all B2B sales in the US.
12. Over half of B2B purchases are made online, which 93% of shoppers prefer over speaking with a sales rep.
13. The online share in the B2B market is currently just 2-3%, compared to the 12-15% share in the B2C market; however:
14. Experts approximate that the online B2B market will reach $6.7 trillion by 2020, which is more than twice the anticipated size of the online B2C market for that year.
Mobile commerce trends
14. The most important e-commerce functions to B2B marketers are mobile support (with 98% responding that it is either critical or important) and product management (97%).
15 Google recently switched to mobile-first indexing, meaning the search engine will use the mobile version of a website to rank the site and understanding its content. This is a response to the shift toward most users accessing Google via their smartphones versus a desktop.16. 42% of B2B buyers use a mobile device in the process of researching their purchase.
17. Purchase rates on mobile have increased 22% from the past 2 years.
19. Mobile payment systems (such as Apple Pay and PayPal) are gaining traction for their convenience. The number of people using these systems surpassed 100 million in 2017, and is expected to reach 150 million by the end of 2020—which at that time will be 56% of the consumer population.
E-commerce in the research process
20. More than half (55%) of Americans begin their product searches on Amazon, whose sales compose 44% of all e-commerce sales in the US. The second is eBay, with a share of only 7%.
Amazon in brick-and-mortar: At an Amazon Go store in Seattle, WA, customers link their phones to their Amazon accounts to enable automatic scanning and purchasing of the items they take out of the store.
22. 74% of buyers research at least half of their work purchases online to avoid dealing with a sales rep, and:
24. Buyers research online even when they purchase products offline. A survey revealed that 98% of global business buyers do at least some online research on work-related purchases that they complete in-person.
25. A company’s website is the number one place for consumers researching a product to get information, with 74% of consumers using it as a resource, while the second biggest research touchpoint is email, at 43%.
The reality is that e-commerce is not what it once was. Building sites and processes that engage buyers and drive revenue means building product content that first attracts buyers, then tells them everything they need to know, to learn, to “see” and to touch to help them convert.
Watch how Wehkamp tells better product stories and delivers a better CX with inRiver.
Lisa Trowbridge, Marketing
Lisa is a budding marketer and writer, and a senior at Miami University in Ohio. She loves peanut butter and skirts with pockets, and doesn’t believe in horoscopes, but always reads hers anyway.