March 27, 2017, 8:39 pm
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Consumer attitudes towards online shopping now more sophisticated

by Desmond Gregory E. Tribdino

ONLINE shopping is quickly becoming the new normal. In countries such as Korea and Japan, online shopping and deliveries are the mode of buying for their busy citizens. To better understand and keep pace with “what drives people to shop and buy online” KPMG International analyzed the online shopping preferences and behaviors of more than 18,000 consumers in 51 countries, by geography, generation, and product category.  

“Increased competition, combined with consumer demand for richer experiences, means that retailers need to rethink their online strategy. For many retailers, creating an online shopping experience enhanced by technology such as augmented and virtual reality or 3D is becoming at least as important as providing convenient and personalized ordering, payment, and delivery options,” comments Willy Kruh, KPMG International’s global chair for consumer markets.

Moreover the boundaries have practically been erased. Purchases from abroad are done is a couple of clicks and the purchases delivered to the doorstep within a couple of days. 

“Consumers can easily buy from retailers and manufacturers located anywhere in the world—or from those with no physical retail locations at all,” the KPMG consumer markets chief says.

Age determines consumer behavior slant towards online transactions. This was inferred by how survey respondents averaged 17 purchases per year, or 1.25 per month.

Generation X consumers (born between 1966 and 1981), averaged nearly 19 transactions per person per year, and they made more online purchases in the past 12 months than any other age group. In fact, generation X consumers made 20 percent more purchases than the ‘tech-savvy’ millennials (born between 1982 and 2001).  

When comparing the impact of online versus offline touch-points that create the first trigger moment, of note is that 52 percent of consumers cited at least one offline channel as a source of initial awareness, and 59 percent cited one or more online channels.

Retail websites or online shops were the most common source of initial awareness, cited by nearly a third of consumers, and online advertisements were cited by 15 percent. At the same time, physical shops were the second most popular source of awareness, cited by 22 percent of consumers. 

 “Ecommerce is not an online-only affair. Both online and offline channels are effective in creating consumer awareness and demand, especially when used together,” Kruh explains.

Millennials are influenced by online sources such as social media or peer reviews—they were also more likely to be influenced by offline channels. 25 percent more are likely to have seen their most recent online purchase in a shop, than baby boomers, and nearly 50 percent more likely to have talked to a friend about it, and more than twice as likely to have seen someone with it. 

The number one reason that consumers said they shop online is for the convenience of shopping at any hour on any day (58 percent). Price comparison (54 percent), finding online sales or better deals (46 percent) were all cited as reasons for this form of shopping. 

When asked what is most important when deciding where to buy an item online, consumers were most likely to buy from the website with the lowest price they could find (57 percent), then by websites with enhanced delivery options (43 percent) or easy return policies (40 percent). 

Online shopping is built on one thing alone. Trust. And when it came to earning trust, consumers said that protecting their data and information was most important (63 percent). Although millennials were the generation least concerned about data protection, it still ranked high as a priority for earning their trust (cited by 56 percent of millennials, 66 percent of gen Xers and 71 percent of baby boomers). 

“While most companies are of course making a concerted effort to protect their customers’ personal information, frequent media reports on data breaches around the world continue to make consumers anxious and keep the issue top of mind,” Kruh notes.

Customer loyalty is of paramount importance to the seller to keep customers happy. Excellent customer support was the number one loyalty-earning attribute, cited by 65 percent of the respondents. 

The second-most successful loyalty strategy was providing exclusive promotions and offers (cited by 45 percent), followed by loyalty or membership programs (37 percent).
These top three loyalty drivers were consistently effective across all generations, with baby boomers placing a higher importance on customer support (74 percent) than gen-Xers (66 percent) or millennials (59 percent). 

Deeper than that though are personalized interactions such as customized promotions, anticipation of needs, having a sense of community, one-on-one engagement in social media, online games, and other interactive experiences, as well as concierge services are more valuable.

 “The more traditional attributes like excellent consumer support, loyalty offers and membership programs will remain important for all companies to consider as part of their mix…one-on-one engagement will become an expectation for the majority of the market,” Kruh explains.

Overall, 31 percent of the consumers responding to the KPMG survey said they shared a product review online. The millennials were most likely to post a review (34 percent), followed by gen Xers (29 percent) and baby boomers (28 percent). Furthermore, nearly all (92 percent) reported reviews were positive.

“The growing trend for consumers to post positive reviews is driven by factors including the rise of social media, where consumers subtly compete with their peers by publicly sharing their latest purchases and experiences; the rise of bloggers, whose business models are based on providing product reviews that drive affiliate clicks; and sellers, who proactively solicit ratings from happy customers,” Kruh observes.

Consumers responding to the survey said they were most likely to post feedback directly to sellers’ websites (47 percent), followed by posts on Facebook (31 percent), then on the manufacturers’ or the brands’ websites (18 percent).  This was consistent across all age groups, with millennials also frequently posting on WhatsApp, Instagram, and Twitter. 

“The implication for companies is that user-generated reviews are being posted on sites that are increasingly out of their sphere of control or influence. Companies need to integrate these social media sites into their marketing and customer strategy,” Kruh concludes.

Emmanuel P. Bonoan, vice chairman and chief operating officer of R.G. Manabat & Co. (RGM&Co.), Philippine member firm of KPMG, said the relevance of the study to Philippine businesses lies in engaging their target consumers efficiently and effectively. 

“The buying behaviors of Filipinos or global consumers, whether they are millennials or from generations X or Y, are becoming differently motivated and are increasingly influenced by world views and preferences. With the help of this study, retailers will have a more adept understanding of the current trends deemed useful to successfully address consumer buying demands equally beneficial to the growth of their respective businesses,” he shares.
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