4 Myths of Online Retailing
While no one has a crystal ball, this survey research has shown some conventional wisdom to be at odds with how online shoppers are actually behaving and what they value in the multichannel experience.
Myth 1: The tablet will soon overtake the PC as the preferred online shopping device.
Shoppers are still overwhelmingly using their PCs to shop online. Tablets and smart phones won’t catch up any soon–but they may become more important for other parts of the purchase journey.
For all the devotion shown to tablets from their owners — three-quarters of tablets users reach for their device at least once a day and nearly half spend more than 11 hours per week on them — tablets are still not a preferred online shopping device. Of our respondents:
- Just 9% say they have changed their habits to shop with a tablet more often
- Just 11% think they’ll shop more with a table in the next 12 months
- On the other hand, more than one-third of our global sample expects to increase their PC shopping next year
- In China, 87% of online shoppers use their PC to shop every month
Myth 2: As the world gets smaller, global consumers are getting more alike.
Although consumers shop with more global retailers than ever before, as well as shop online across borders, there are a wide range of local differences in consumer behaviors.
Across the world, lower prices, free shipping, and ease of comparison are top reasons to shop online. The ability to touch and see a product, and get it immediately are main draws for physical store shopping. But our data from this year’s study suggests that consumers in different countries are still much more dissimilar than they are alike.
Among our findings:
- Major disparities in what consumers in different countries get out of shopping: for example, in China nearly half of our respondents enjoy shopping in a physical store as a pleasure; in Turkey just 16% like to shop for enjoyment
- Less than half of our Chinese sample goes to an online store looking for a particular brand or product, far below the pace of our mature markets surveyed in the study like Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the US
Myth 3: Low price is the main driver of customer spend at favorite retailers.
Customers value quality innovative brands over price when shopping at their favorite multichannel retailers. When it comes to what our survey participants liked about their favorite online retailers, we were surprised by both the main factors and the main non-factors:
- Price point was not a critical factor in getting consumers to spend more at a favorite retailer. Cheap prices might help a company to enter the inner circle of favorite retailers, but it won’t make customers spend more on a consistent basis
- A store’s look and feel, as well as a friendly staff, don’t noticeably affect spending behavior
- Once a store is established as a multichannel favorite, four key drivers effect spend: fast and reliable delivery, a good returns policy, exclusive or early access to products, and innovative products
Myth 4: Social media will soon become an indispensable retail channel.
On its own, social media isn’t likely to become an important retail channel anytime soon. But it’s becoming more popular every year–and it’s driving more shopping across all channels, not just online ones.
Our survey data shows that social media will remain a backwater sales channel for the near future. The use of social media sites like Facebook has exploded in recent years, but only a tiny minority of our survey respondents say they’re using social media sites to shop. Some of our social media-related results from our survey:
- 60% of respondents use social media to follow, discover, and give feedback on brand and retailers
- But social media is not a major traffic driver to these brands and retailers– just 10% of our survey sample said a social media interaction led them to a specific online store
- 56% of Chinese online consumers have already shopping via a social media platform, versus a global average of 24%
- 49% of our survey respondents said they use social media every day