There’s no arguing that the internet has changed the world. It alters people’s lives in both minuscule and major ways, affecting how we connect with our loved ones and how we complete our business. Consumers are more informed than ever thanks to the great ease at which information can be gained, in the form of both professional research and customer reviews. The internet paved the way for online shopping, which utterly changed the game for in-store purchases. It’s essential for businesses today to transform in order to survive the modern shopping experience.
How has the Internet Changed Shopping?
While customers once waltzed into stores and exclusively relied on store associates to explain a product and provide all the relevant information, a study by Deloitte University Press reported that a great number of shoppers today make a purchase decision before ever setting foot inside a retail space. As it turns out, that number is only rising. High-investment purchases, such as electronics or furniture, tend to result in more customers having researched and decided on their product before going to the store. The number of shoppers who have done their research and made their decision in advance has actually surpassed those who shop “blind.”
While retail shopping can be an enjoyable experience and browsing in-store remains appealing, it’s entirely likely that even these types of shoppers have some guidance from all the consumer-driven content they’ve seen while online shopping. Many people will even research products on their mobile device while shopping in-store, reading customer reviews, comparing features and trying to ensure they make the best decision.
Purchases made in-store without any previous research are few and far in-between. Even spontaneous purchases often only come after months and months of online browsing. More than ever before, people are electing to skip the retail experience altogether in order to make a convenient purchase from the comfort of their mobile device or laptop. Online shopping has changed the shopping experience.
What is the Modern Shopping Experience (and why is it taking over)?
Online shopping is easier than in-store shopping. It’s the simple truth. You don’t have to leave home or work in order to pick up that shirt you like, which saves you gas, time and the overall inconvenience of crowded stores. In a few days, it’ll show up right on your doorstep. You don’t have to go to several stores to find the best deal. You don’t have to worry about when stores close. You don’t have to wonder if it’ll fit in your car. You can simply do a quick Google search, read a few customer reviews, hit a button and your online shopping is complete. Your package will show up right to your doorstep in a matter of days or weeks--and if you don’t like it, all you have to do is re-box it and mail it back!
A GfK global study confirmed what is already obvious: customers crave convenience. Better prices, better selections and better products, as well as a shorter shopping time, all push consumers towards online shopping. According to UPS, “These are tumultuous times for retailers.” Surveys by analytics firm, comScore, show that customers are purchasing more online than in stores. While this provides many difficulties for brick-and-mortar retailers, it gives consumers more control over their purchasing power than ever before.
When online shopping, consumers have unlimited access to knowledge, information and customer reviews and ratings. They gain data rather than a sales pitch, learning about a product without feeling pressured to buy. Understandably, it’s hard to resist.
Online Customer Reviews Have Changed Business
Online shopping opens the door to customer reviews. With review platforms like ConsumerAffairs, potential customers can see your online reputation, putting even more power in the hands of your current and future customers.
According to a study by Dimensional Research, 90% of consumers who read online reviews admitted that a positive review influenced their buying decision. Additionally, 86% reported that negative reviews also had a substantial influence on their final purchase decision.
Online customer reviews are something that businesses of the past didn’t need to worry about. But today they have a huge influence on the market. If you’re providing quality products, fair prices and excellent customer service, make sure your future customers know it. Collect reviews from your customers and let your audience do the marketing for you.