A third of UK shoppers don’t buy items on the site on which they discovered them and a whopping 43% abandon the online stores where they are set to make a purchase for Amazon at the checkout phase.
So finds a study of 2000 UK consumers conducted by Ve Global, an ecommerce technology company, which set out to uncover why consumers abandon one brand for another when shopping online. The results unveil the different behaviours shoppers exhibit when looking for products, including how often they spend casually browsing online stores, how many different sites they compare when scouring for specific products, where they end up purchasing items and why.
The research challenges the assumption that every site visitor is a potential customer. Instead, the results show 14% of consumers browse online stores every day without any intention to buy anything at all. In addition, while in the early stages of the research process, 37% of consumers are adding items to their basket to save them for later, not necessarily to purchase.
The findings show that the missed sales opportunity for retailers lies in the research phase, which is typically longer for consumers shopping for big-ticket items, such as TVs, washing machines and designer beauty products. More than a third (34%) of people spend several days researching big-ticket items before buying, while 23% spend up to a few weeks. During this time, 31% of people will visit an average of three sites to compare their intended big-purchase item before deciding where to buy.
As part of the comparison process, more than half (52%) of potential customers will look at the different product descriptions online and notably, 20% go in-store to find out more, indicating that some Brits still want the in-person experience to get the confidence to purchase. In the end, 34% of consumers will not buy the products on the original online store they used to discover them, with many brands acting as a mere stepping stone.
The research highlights how retail brands are losing customers near the finish line, with many abandoning their online baskets at the last moment to check if items are available on a competitor’s online store (44%) or on Amazon (43%), and finalising their purchase there instead.
Jack Wearne, CEO at Ve Global, says: “Brands face a growing challenge to convert researchers into purchasers. Many currently have no way of distinguishing between those adding items to their basket with no intention to buy at all, those in the early research phase with a high propensity to buy, and those who are ready to purchase. A brand’s job is to give customers the confidence to buy, and to buy from them. Instead of wasting effort on those who are never going to convert, brands must identify those who are ready to take the leap and deliver an experience that gives them the confidence to buy from them, not Amazon.”
Contrary to popular belief, chatbots don’t cut it when it comes to delivering a good experience. In fact, the research reveals that only 6% of consumers use chat facilities on websites. Wearne continues “the core problem with chatbots is that you have a human messaging a machine, and exasperation often ensues on the human end. Chatbots only increase the appearance of personalisation and ultimately, they’re nothing more than interactive FAQs.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, what makes consumers shop elsewhere is cheaper prices (65%) but interestingly, 22% state they will get items from a brand that they trust or recognise, while 14% do it because they think other online stores are easier to use.
What gives people the confidence to purchase from an online store is a reputable brand experience (49%), more detailed product specifications (37%), the ability to get recommendations (21%) and guidance (19%) on the site.
Ve Global’s CEO concludes: “With in-store shopping, sales assistants can spot those ‘intent to purchase’ signs and engage with customers to close the sale, but in the online world, it’s a guessing game. However, adaptable brands are using technology to intelligently spot these signs by analysing customers’ digital body language in the critical research stages. Once those customers with intent to buy are identified, brands can focus on delivering a guided selling experience to give them the confidence to buy from them, not elsewhere.”