Consumers are migrating from physical stores to online shopping en masse, according to Black Friday sales figures, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. The factors important to shoppers when buying products have changed over the last two decades, in line with the near ubiquitous take-up of connected devices and advances in broadband. Convenience and variety now dominate, and e-commerce sites have everything consumers need, and more.
Online shoppers spent $3.34 billion on Black Friday in 2016, according to Adobe. This is a 21.6 percent increase, compared with figures for the previous year. The huge rise is primarily driven by mobile devices as consumers are now well-versed in buying products wherever they are, whatever the time, whether at home or work and on smartphones and tablets. Consumers are also able to access their favorite stores with greater ease, via intuitive mobile apps. Only a few years ago, browsing a store on a mobile could often be frustrating and difficult. But dedicated, standalone apps now offer personalized, consumer-friendly experiences, reducing the time and effort it takes to add a much-needed product to a basket and buy it with a card or online payment portal, such as PayPal.
All these tech advances have left traditional stores reeling. They just don’t have the ability to reach and engage with consumers in the same way. Even the shoppers who like to take a closer look at merchandise are giving up the small perks of on-premise, to take advantage of the multitude of benefits of online.
The internet and connected devices have transformed the buying cycle, making it easy for anyone, anywhere, to log on to an e-commerce site and buy a product or a service. Convenience is the most often cited reason for purchasing goods online, and it’s easy to see why. Instead of waiting in line at the mall, or driving huge distances for an in-demand product, internet users can buy what they need with just a few clicks. Online stores are open 24/7, 365 days a year too, so there are never any worries about opening or closing times.
Variety is the spice of life and major online stores have an almost limitless number of products, across a variety of departments, for users to peruse and to buy from. When visiting a traditional on-premise store, the range of products is usually limited, due to physical space constraints, but this is not a problem online. As well as a greater variety of products, online hubs also provide a greater selection for each individual product and have a plentiful supply of colors and sizes.
It’s a win-win for online consumers when it comes to pricing because products are typically cheaper on e-commerce stores. They can also use price comparison sites to get the best deal available at any given time. Online stores also offer discount codes and rebates, bringing the cost of goods down even further.
New research by SlideGenius shows nine out of ten people believe that user-generated content, such as reviews, is a great way of determining the quality of a particular product or brand. The majority of online product listings enable users to make an informed decision by showcasing important product information, together with consumer reviews. If you are not sure about buying something, online shopping is the best way to proceed.
Try before you buy
Online shopping is quickly becoming the preferred method for purchases in the digital age. But it does lack some of the personal aspects of traditional shopping, such as the ability to see and try on goods before buying. Some shoppers are still drawn to physical stores because they can buy products and get their hands on them immediately, without having to wait for delivery.
The traditional shopping experience also offers a more intuitive way to ask questions, with shopping assistants usually on hand to answer queries. Concerns about the security of online shopping can also be an issue, although internet users can take precautions to ensure that their transactions are safe and secure, such as removing debit and credit card details after purchase and running spyware tools.
New and exclusive online stores, such as New Easy, are now generating more sales than the websites of traditional retailers, according to the research agency, Mintel. These ‘etailers’, which were tipped to generate almost £22 billion in sales last year, have generally been a step ahead of larger franchises due to their ability to leverage digital infrastructures more effectively. For consumers, these stores provide an excellent alternative to traditional, brand stores, with their optimized online experiences and wealth of product ranges.
Affordable online shopping is the future, then, and it’s possible to get even better value and deals for the products you need with a few tips and pointers. Shopbot websites offer the fastest and easiest ways to access great deals by sweeping the net for the cheapest online prices. These sites have search functions and you can quickly click through to your desired item at its lowest cost. Leaving any item you want to buy in the website’s online basket can also pay dividends. Retailers have been known to send discount codes and other deals to users, as a way of encouraging them to buy a product.
Finally, being proactive and sociable can also help you to save money online. There are many sites that allow you to flag items for alerts so that you get emails and notifications when a particular product falls in price. It is also important to visit social platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as many brands give followers and friends the heads-up about discounts and flash sales.
The number of reasons to favor online shopping over conventional shopping is growing every year. Whether you want convenience, variety, no-pressure purchases, or low prices, e-commerce sites are making it easier than ever for consumers to buy products quickly and efficiently.