This article is part of CMO.com’s Industry Spotlight 2019 collection. Click here for more.
Brands are all too frequently building brand equity and driving customers to their sites, only to offer them an underwhelming experience that encourages them to shop in other marketplaces.
That’s according to “The Future Shopper 2019,” a new study by Wunderman Thompson Commerce. The global e-commerce consultancy collected data from 15,000 shoppers across the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Belgium, and the Netherlands to better understand their shopping habits, including where they look for inspiration.
“Though a brand matters somewhat, evidence from the report shows everything about the experience increasingly matters for consumers,” said Frank Kochenash, Wunderman Thompson Commerce’s president, marketplace services, North America.
The study found a large percentage of consumers are platform-agnostic in regard to finding ideas about what to buy, but the behavior changes greatly when they search for specific products. At that point, 56% of consumers turn to Amazon, the study found.
“One of the main takeaways from the report is that it validates and confirms a continued preeminence of Amazon in consumers’ minds when it comes to online commerce, and that shows up in a number of the metrics,” Kochenash said. “Amazon Prime members emerge at the leading edge of commerce, at least in the sense of how the mass of consumers are shopping.”
Given how broad media consumption is these days, Wunderman recommends an omnichannel strategy. The report data showed search engines are still a leading source of inspiration, cited by 51% of survey respondents. Thirty-three percent said the same for brand websites and 32% for social media.
“That is a bit surprising because search engines require a customer query to get started, but they are turning to them to get ideas for furniture or home decorating or beauty tips,” he said. “Harder to measure is the inspiration that comes somewhat passively through social channels—for example, browsing a Facebook feed or watching a short-form video. But I think inspiration comes from a lot of places.”
The key factors that drive consumers’ purchasing decisions with a specific online store include cheaper prices, convenient delivery options, a larger product range, and attractive loyalty programs.
But that’s not to say everyone wants to shop online. According to the report, 46% of consumers still desire an in-store experience with a brand that has a physical store—and the number rises slightly to 49% among Gen Z shoppers.
“Therein lies a great opportunity for retailers to inspire, and I think some of the best retailers and brands are doing exactly that by creating experiences that are almost like entertainment in their stores, as opposed to just being a place to buy your stuff,” Kochenash said. “It’s not a new strategy, but I think the numbers here suggest getting inspired by the stores is a big opportunity.”
Another interesting report finding was that 47% of consumers are looking forward to the prospect of a cashless world in the years ahead, especially those in the Gen Z segment. Additionally, 39% are excited about the possibility of checkout-free stores.