Getting eCommerce Right in the 2020s: Purpose and personalisation are key to keeping online shoppers coming back
We have all been witness to the extraordinary changes to the digital landscape over the last couple of years. I've found it particularly interesting to watch how brands and retailers have taken a nimble approach and adapted their digital strategies, often at pace, to offer their customers new experiences and keep them shopping in the online aisle.
So, I was fascinated to read the findings of our new EMEA wide study of more than 10,000 consumers - Getting eCommerce Right in the 2020s - to see what matters most to shoppers and how online retailers need to respond.
Since 2020, eCommerce players have been handed a huge opportunity as many consumers switched to online shopping. However, as shoppers have become more sophisticated in the way they shop, so too have their expectations.
The research identifies a number of key areas that retailers need to be laser-focused on, in order to meet the changing needs of their customers:
The rise of the mindful shopper
The findings demonstrate the growing importance of brands reflecting their customers' personal values in order to gain preference. Nearly 60% of UK shoppers said they would switch to brands that better represent the values they hold dear, with an overwhelming majority (87%) saying their values and things they care about play a greater role in how and where they choose to spend their money. Indeed, the importance of purpose is further demonstrated with almost 40% of shoppers actively seeking out sustainable, environmentally responsible brands.
The message to brands is clear: It's not just about offering a product portfolio that appeals to the shopper. People care about a brand's values and how they behave - if they don't like it, they will go elsewhere. Brands must communicate their credentials to the shopper and act on the issues they care about, whether that is being climate conscious, having ethical supply chains or having a strong track record in how they treat their employees.
Too much choice is overwhelming
The report also revealed the desire for a more simplified shopping experience, with many finding too much choice overwhelming. 91% of UK consumers crave simplicity from their online shopping experience, with one in five shoppers keen to see fewer products on the virtual shelf (22%). In fact, more than a third only want to see products and offers that are relevant to them, demonstrating the importance of personalisation.
With a further 60% interested in receiving targeted offers, there has never been a more important time for retailers to scale up personalisation as a key component of their digital strategy.
"Retailers need to create an online experience that really adds value and is tailored to individual shoppers. Consumers don't want to be overwhelmed by too much choice as they can find it stressful. Instead, they're increasingly driven by value, speed, convenience, and purpose. Many of the recent eCommerce winners are those which offer less choice and personalise at scale to simplify the digital experience."
Offline habits creep into online shopping
The research also found consumers are increasingly 'digitally window shopping', with 68% saying they are re-visiting eCommerce sites numerous times before making a purchase. This trend of "micro-interactions" typically means shoppers are browsing sites three times before making a purchase, pausing most commonly over home furnishings or clothes.
Understanding when consumers are in "browse mode" and when they are ready to buy is essential. Brands must make use of all the data they have at their fingertips to tailor and streamline the customer journey to make every visit count and convert to a purchase as quickly as possible.
Virtual Reality is helping sell luxury goods
Many shoppers are looking for a more experiential and innovative offering online, particularly when it comes to luxury, high value goods. The report reveals that 65% of people are more comfortable buying big ticket items compared to a year ago, with 62% of shoppers interested in using virtual reality (VR) to personalise their experience. Half of us are even prepared to buy a product having only seen it through VR.
Brands must invest in innovation and embrace emerging technologies to cater to this increasing appetite for new and exciting digital experiences. Once customers engage in these experiences, demand and repeat custom is likely to spiral.
Attracting and retaining new shoppers is going to require those in eCommerce to respond quickly to meet the high standards consumers are demanding. Those that can offer simple, personal experiences through innovative formats with purpose at the core are set to thrive in the year ahead.
Find all of these insights and more in the full 'Getting eCommerce right in the 2020s' report here.