The brand website is “losing importance” as a source of information for today’s shopper. Instead, Amazon now dominates as the first port of call.
In a report highlighting the retail giant’s growing monopoly in the world of e-commerce – if that were needed – inRiver surveyed some 6,000 consumers across Europe and found that just one in ten (11 percent) of shoppers will head to a brand’s website in the initial stage of purchase. Just 28 percent turned to a search engine.
Instead, nearly half of shoppers (45 percent) head straight for Amazon, the site now a “go-to source” for price comparisons (74 percent), consumer reviews (58 percent) and general product information (41 percent).
The findings are backed by an earlier forecast by Forrester, predicting that search engines, such as Google, would “lose of their appeal for shopping” as Amazon continues to innovate, particularly with search technology of its own, such as text and voice capabilities.
Information is power
With the majority of shoppers heading to Amazon, a further issue arises: 41 percent of consumers won’t consult another online store of all the information they need is provided in the first shop they visit, although just less than a third (31 percent) will move to another website within 10 seconds if general product information is lacking.
For that small portion of shoppers reaching a retailer’s site, inRiver identified the data most crucial to purchasing decisions. Consumers were most likely to abandon their virtual shopping carts and turn to another retailer instantly if images (20%), information on availability (25%) or information on pricing (39%) was missing.
Meanwhile, ever-shorter attention spans among consumers mean brands have to choose the right medium to present that information. For one-third of respondents (33 percent), videos that show products in different contexts are most helpful in influencing their buying decisions.
“Consumers are dismissive of brands and retailers who do not instantly deliver the information they need,” commented Thor Johnson, inRiver CEO. “Adding a limited number of pictures to the general product information is no longer good enough.”
Almost a fifth (18 percent) of respondents wanted to see products demonstrated by influencers – this rising to 28 percent among 18-24-year-olds. The marketing channel can give consumers confidence in a product, said the report, while YouTube was the most-trusted video platform for product information among half of consumers.
“Consumers’ expectations have increased, and they want to see products in context, as they would in-store, to give them the confidence to buy,” added Johnson. “Good product information is essential in turning browsers into buyers.”
Another reason to get product information right is to ensure that products are actually meeting with customer expectations. Of the 22 percent of consumer who said that products “rarely meet their expectations” nearly half will return items. That’s having a massive financial impact on e-commerce businesses; the report says that the cost of serving returns has spiraled to almost £60bn a year for some of the UK’s largest retailers.
“Costly online returns drive profits into the ground for many retailers, forcing prices up on product, delivery or service,” adds Johnson.
“Rich, accurate product information alongside ample consumer reviews help products match customers’ expectations. Brands and retailers displaying enriched product information in context with video, images and compelling copy create more realistic impressions in the minds of their customer while reducing returns and downstream costs.”