Whether due to trends or economic factors, consumer shopping habits are ever-changing. What shoppers value one day can be different the next. This requires brands and retailers to be agile to keep up with what consumers want and provide exceptional experiences for them. The online shopping landscape, where consumers have more options than ever at their fingertips, has made this especially important — if a brand isn’t providing what consumers want, they can (and will) quickly move on to another.
But how can brands and retailers stay abreast of evolving consumer shopping habits?
ChannelAdvisor, a CommerceHub company, recently surveyed 5,000 global online shoppers to get to the heart of modern consumers’ changing behavior. The results offer brands and retailers insight into the mind of consumers and how that should inform their online selling strategies. Here are some key results and takeaways.
The Global Trends Impacting Consumer Behavior
Inflation remains top of mind for brands and retailers as higher prices affect how much consumers spend. Although inflation rates have risen (with it being as high as 8.2% in the US), it’s had limited impact on most consumers’ online spending habits. While 23% of consumers spend less online than they did a year ago, 46% spend roughly the same amount. With layoffs increasing and a recession looming, this could change in the coming months, and brands and retailers must prepare accordingly.
Brands and retailers should also consider the growing popularity of online marketplaces. With marketplaces making up 34.6% of all online sales, it’s clear they are here to stay, but respondents indicated marketplaces are much more than a medium to purchase an assortment of products. According to the study, 76% of consumers use multiple marketplaces to browse, discover, research and buy products. Brands and retailers on marketplaces must ensure they’re delivering value in all these areas to give consumers the experience they want in this medium.
Lastly, the proliferation of digital touchpoints, such as search engines, marketplaces and social media platforms, continues to rise, making consumers’ shopping experiences even more fragmented. A whopping 82% of consumers use multiple touchpoints during their buying journey, with 74% using two to four. Consumers are using several touchpoints to compare pricing, research and purchase, which means brands and retailers must diversify their presence to meet consumers where they are.
How Consumer Behavior is Shaping the Consumer Journey
As consumer behavior evolves, so does the consumer journey, making connecting with potential customers difficult for brands and retailers. Now brands and retailers are tasked with finding opportune moments along the consumer journey to present their value to consumers. This starts by figuring out how and where consumers shop online during each stage of their journey.
At the beginning of the consumer journey, intent during a product search is essential for brands and retailers to consider. Are consumers buying a product or simply researching one? The results show when consumers buy a product, their product search begins on Amazon, while search engines are their go-to for product research.
The product awareness phase is similarly varied. As mentioned earlier, the amount of digital touchpoints available has given consumers more options for where they discover new products. In the past 12 months, consumers learned about new products from browsing marketplaces (42%) and brand or retailer websites (38%), getting recommendations from family and friends (30%) and skimming through social media (23%).
When consumers enter the consideration phase, they stop being casual browsers and start getting serious about their options, looking to credible sources to provide the info they need to make an informed decision. Respondents ranked Amazon and Google as the top channels to research products. Brands and retailers can use these channels during the consideration phase to stand out to consumers and build trust with accurate product data.
Finally, when consumers reach the conversion phase and are ready to purchase, several factors influence their final decision. The results show price is the top factor that impacts whether a consumer buys a product, with fast shipping and reviews next in importance. If a product is unavailable on a website, respondents will search for the same product elsewhere or buy a similar product from another brand. Brands and retailers should note the direction they are likely to take while browsing for product options and be present wherever possible.
Consumer Behavior during the 2022 Holiday Season
Despite inflation and economic uncertainty, consumers spent more during the holiday season.
The five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday set records — nearly 197 million people shopped in stores and online, spending 11% more than the previous year. Overall holiday sales fell short of predictions but still grew 5.3%.
Perhaps even more relevant is where shoppers made their purchases. Online sales increased 10.6%, and mobile shopping drove a majority of Cyber Week sales for the first time. Social media referred 12% of online traffic for the holiday season, an all-time high.
Consumer behavior continues to change, which calls for brands and retailers to adapt to consumer needs. The online landscape offers many opportunities for brands and retailers to reach consumers during their shopping journeys; they just have to know the best avenues to find them. By staying in the know about how and where consumers shop online, brands and retailers can build strategies that will resonate with them and convert them to customers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Link Walls, VP of Digital Marketing Strategy of ChannelAdvisor
Link Walls is responsible for ChannelAdvisor’s Digital Marketing Strategy, serving as a strategic consultant to leading brands and retailers, helping them with the strategy and solutions needed to successfully advertise their products online.