Over the last two months I’ve made at least six online purchases – and I know that this number is likely to increase the closer we get to Christmas.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a visit to the High Street to spot new trends – and for the opportunity to look, touch and get a feel for them close up. But for some reason, it just seems much easier to make a speedy purchase with a click of the mouse.
I know I’m not the only one, so I decided to do a bit of research on the psychology of online shopping to find out why it’s increasingly becoming a more attractive option…
Doing the research
Given the huge amount of information online, what’s interesting is that most of us (more than 65% according to Retail Dive) have a quick check online on the product we’re looking to purchase before stepping foot inside a High Street shop. But if we like what we see (and when the price is very often cheaper), we’ll buy it there and then.
However, the online shopping experience doesn’t necessary fulfil the ‘want it now’ culture of the next generation, who are not prepared to wait a few days to get their latest gadget. That’s why companies like Amazon have transformed the whole online shopping experience; I once ordered an item after 9pm in the evening and it arrived the very next day. I liked that.
And with talk of drones delivering our goods – something that will probably become the norm when our kids start paying their own bills – the whole speedy process just becomes that little bit more attractive.
What people say
The other great thing about online shopping versus the High Street is the ability to do online reviews. And most online retailers have made this much easier – making the impulse buy much more appealing.
It’s great that we’re being more aware of the quality of our purchases and how they’ve worked for other people; being mindful of whether they’ll end up in a skip in a few months is a step in the right direction from a sustainability viewpoint.
And platforms such as YouTube have helped to facilitate this, bringing the whole review to life – many a time myself I’ve bought a product and made a video to help others.
Other influencing facts
According to research conducted by Gotland, other motivational factors leading to people’s decision to buy online include the attractiveness of the website and is features (we’re only human!), convenience (as we know) and the time saving factor.
As would be expected, the attractiveness of online shopping diminishes the older we get. You won’t find most 80-plus year-olds shopping online for new footwear, but you would find most twenty-somethings scouring the net to get the best price. That of course is likely to change in the next 50-60 years when the generation raised with technology in the palm of their hand reaches a ripe old age.
So how can the High Street compete with grabbing their fair share of the market? Putting price aside, a new YouGov survey commissioned by Webhelp found that nearly two-thirds of people would pay more for a company’s products or services if it deals with issues and queries quickly and effectively.
Unsurprisingly, traditional customer service methods are still favoured by Baby Boomers, as many struggle with today’s impersonal nature of interacting with brands. They like to get out, have a chat and have the rest of us silently cursing them as we try to patiently wait in line to get served.
However, the research found that there was a preference for speed in customer service across the board. The most valued type of customer service is fast issue resolution (39%) followed by fast response (16%) and high availability of customer service advisors (12%).
Consumers are also willing to pay a premium for speed, as nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents (and 69% amongst 18-24 year olds) would pay more if a company deals with issues and queries quickly.
So while price plays an important role for many people’s decision to make an online purchase, it appears that there are many contributing factors – the speed of service, the quality of the product and the overall attractiveness of the site we buy from.
The whole post-customer experience is also gaining momentum: the question of how easy is it to return items we’re not happy with becomes increasingly important as we look to make our lives easier and fuss-free.
Underpinning all of these factors are of course our emotions: how online shopping makes us feel. Emotions can play a powerful part in people’s decision to make a purchase – and in line with that is the customer experience, as it impacts the emotional connection people have with brands, sometimes even on a subconscious level.
What are you thoughts on this – and what’s the most important factor to you when it comes to online shopping?