As many as 46% of UK shoppers now start a product search on the retailer or brand site they know they can buy it from, rather than a marketplace. This compares to just 25% who start a search via online marketplaces, including Amazon.
The research from tech company Criteo surveyed how consumers shopped in 2019 compared to the end of 2021. It found four in five UK consumers felt they had seen an improvement in both the ease of searching for a product and finding what they are looking for. As a result, almost a third (30%) feel retail and brand websites are more influential than they were two years ago.
These benefits haven’t just been felt by younger, digital natives; after multiple lockdowns forced physical stores to close, the ‘grey pound’ has shifted online. Today, half (48%) of those aged over 55 are using apps at least ‘occasionally’ to make online purchases and 70% will now choose to make a purchase online after seeing a product they like in-store.
Across all age groups, the number of shoppers who report using a voice-activated smart home speaker to buy products has almost doubled in the UK from 22% in 2019 to 39% at the end of 2021, perhaps highlighting a new arena for brands and retailers to compete with the tech giants.
Overall satisfaction with online experiences appears to be positively affecting reviews, with shoppers saying they currently leave many more positive reviews than negative ones. 71% of UK shoppers reported leaving a positive online review in the last six months, in comparison to 48% who left a negative online review.
Despite the progress it appears good experiences and brand loyalty could be less closely linked. For example, 58% of consumers now make a purchase on their phone via the retailer’s website while inside their store. However, an even greater number – 61% – report making the purchase on a different retailer’s site.
One possible influence is the increasing relevance of online advertisements, particularly native adverts on retail search pages. An average of 72% of shoppers across all age groups feel the ads they see online are for the products they are looking to buy. Although those age 55+ are still the hardest to engage, 60% do feel that the online ads they see are for the right products.
“It’s certainly in consumer interest to have diversity and choice when it comes to making purchase decisions online and the latest findings are very optimistic in this respect,” comments Ryan Cook, UK MD at Criteo. “While the commerce environment is certainly no less competitive between retailers and brands, these emerging shopper habits provide both groups with greater opportunity to reach and address shoppers in relevant ways. As more adventurous retailers reach marketing maturity, there’s a huge opportunity to decentralise the commerce world and make it more equitable for all.”