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Ecommerce Trends 2020: Consumer Behavior and Insights

5/15/2020 | Maria Voorhees Maydan

Online shopping is on the rise and consumer’s online activity and habits are ever-evolving.  With the increase in personal computing power and advances in mobile computing, consumers no longer feel compelled to make the effort to wander the aisles in search of that perfect item. As a customer experience agency, Tahzoo is constantly focused on top of trends in Ecommerce and consumer behavior. We are continually asking, “What does the modern consumer look like today? How does that affect the way we mold our digital customer experiences?”  As Ecommerce consultants, it’s our job to provide our clients with the best technical advice and UX concepts, keeping an ear to the ground and an eye in the sky, so we don’t miss a beat.

China has the largest Ecommerce market in the world at $740 billion and the U.S. comes in at a close second at $561 billion. Because we serve global clients in Taiwan and other countries in Asia, we actively study the differences in global consumer behavior, seeking to craft user scenarios that reduce the path to purchase in an Ecommerce environment, making buying easier and improving our retail clients’ bottom line. We go to where our clients’ consumers are. For example, a Taiwan based client with its largest markets in US and China deploy Tahzoo to gather market data from those two countries before focusing on their local market.  As we travel the world, here are some insights our field studies have surfaced.

Price Conscious

On average, over half of consumers worldwide will purchase a product from an international retailer for a better price.  Price is the most important factor when considering any type of purchase. Digital consumers with the luxury of time will hunt for savings and compare prices. This has led to the rise of 3rd party retailers like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. Manufacturers are not always best served to sell directly to customers. This is especially true for luxury goods like electronics or fashion items with higher price tags where the savings could really make a difference.

Mobile

You can’t walk down the street or sit on public transit without seeing someone looking at their mobile phone. The rise of mobile has had the most significant impact on the global Ecommerce marketplace. People are increasingly more comfortable completing purchase transactions on their mobile devices. For example, 50% of all online transactions in Germany were on mobile devices in 2019. Over 60% of transactions in Singapore happened on mobile devices. Singapore has the highest mobile penetration rate in the world -- on average, 26% of Singaporean consumers shop online at least once a week – the highest rate in Southeast Asia.

Today’s retailers must master optimized and responsive mobile or Ecommerce sites in order to reap the benefits of this budding trend. If the purchase process on a mobile device is intuitive and simple, sales will increase. Rather than waiting until they get in front of a desktop, consumers can shop anytime, anywhere on their mobile devices.

Social Media

Social channels have become woven into the fabric of our daily lives and continue to change the way consumers shop. Consumers use social channels as a way to validate their desire for a particular product. They listen to social communities for the latest in trendy purchases, in essence allowing brands to paint a picture for consumers and mold their identities. Social media acts as a mirror and reflects consumer experiences, both negative and positive. Facebook is second to Google as a source for reviews. Recent studies show that a majority of consumers believe social media has a large impact on their shopping decision.

Payment Types

Outside the U.S., Ecommerce retailers offer a variety of ways of accepting online payments to suit the needs and comfort levels of consumers. In some European countries like Germany, PayPal is the most popular payment method, accounting for over a quarter of all transactions.

The more a retailer knows about the payment preferences of their market, the better sales results will be.  For example, payment in installments is very popular in South American countries like Brazil, especially for high-value purchases. Nearly 60% of all online payments in Brazil last year were paid using the installment method. The option to purchase a product by financing or paying in installments is penetrating Ecommerce markets everywhere with the “buy now, pay later” mentality. This trend is especially true for younger generations. These shoppers reported purchasing a more expensive item or purchasing more than originally intended after learning about an installment payment option. International retailers must invest in understanding regional payment preferences in order to compete with local retailers.

Reviews

What kind of review is more likely to encourage a consumer to purchase? One from a friend or family member or someone they don’t know? How much budget should be spent on advertising, rather than managing an active review practice? The role of advertising is continuing to decline as the best way to reach a certain audience. Increasingly, creating a quality customer experience that incorporates a product review strategy is producing effective results.

Today’s consumers will often opt to do research on the products in their shopping cart. There is a world of information at the consumers’ fingertips. With a product type or brand already in mind, the majority of online shoppers gather information from sources like Google, Amazon, or eBay. Today’s consumers are more informed than ever and are getting smarter every day.

Trust is central to the consumer-retailer relationship. A retailer can win trust by accruing consistently positive reviews on its brand and their products. Internationally, buyers are wary of international brands that don’t take the time to translate content into local languages and this might dissuade them from purchasing. According to a recent study, nearly half of Germany consumers won’t buy from a website that is not in German or translated into German.

The well-informed consumer is actively working to understand the policies and terms and conditions of the purchase at checkout. They know that returning an item can be a stressful and frustrating process, especially if the retailer has a strict or unforgiving policy. Retailers who focus on hassle-free return policies improve their brand reputation and foster customer loyalty.

Making Personalization Seem More Human

Anyone would agree that opening an email or letter specifically address to you, rather than “valued customer” or “to whom it may concern” is preferable? Not only is an email more likely to be opened if it uses the recipient’s name. But when email marketing also personalizes the users' experience with the content, consumers are more likely to interact with it. The modern consumer now expects a higher level of personalization and is more satisfied when they get this kind of treatment. If the experience or interaction a brand offers is highly personalized, consumers feel special and are more likely to interact with the brand again and again.

A caveat in personalization, however, is the trend towards making each touchpoint with the customer feel more human. With recent data breaches and concern over privacy online, one would think consumers would shy away from providing personal information, however, this is not the case. Research shows that a majority of consumers are willing to share personal information to enable a personalized experience.

All Roads Lead to Amazon

Amazon, once a small marketplace for books, is now a behemoth marketplace for everything under the sun, offering both competitive pricing and convenience. Nearly half of consumers in the U.S. are Amazon Prime members and membership is increasing globally. Users are more likely to purchase a product that is marked “Prime” to get the free shipping rather than one that does not fall under that umbrella, even if there is a difference in cost. When researching a product, the studies show that a consumer might visit Amazon several times to compare prices, shipping options, and reviews. So even if their journey doesn’t start or end with Amazon, it is likely that a visit to the site will happen in between. Price-conscious consumers are put at ease by the cost comparison options Amazon provides. Consumers have the choice of purchasing a product in various conditions and can view all price options easily. The personalization engine that Amazon has built continually suggests products which often ends up in users’ carts. Covering all facets of the online shopping experience, Amazon is an informed shopping tool that has the power to suggest something before you even realize you need it.

Who is shopping?

Women are stereotypically cast as avid shoppers, but according to online shopping trends and statistics, both men and women have very similar online shopping habits. Moreover, men spend nearly 30% more money online than women and are more likely to shop while under the influence. Around the globe, people of all ages are shopping online regardless of age and gender, although trending percentages in every demographic vary from country to country. Online retailers who take the time to pay attention to the trending shopping behavior of local consumers will reap the benefits.

Where are they shopping?

Younger generations (Millennials and Generation X) are shopping online most frequently. More than half of people under the age of 35 shop online at least once a week. The interesting thing about this demographic is the physical location where they are actually doing their shopping – nearly half of all online shoppers are browsing while in bed. One might associate bedtime with turning off your phone, but actually this is where the shopping begins. And mobile allows shoppers to be more efficient when browsing products, whether it be in the office, in a physical retail store, or even in the bathroom.

While online shopping retailers are on the rise, the traditional brick and mortar stores is fighting back. At some point or another, we can probably all relate to a disappointing online purchase. The product did not look like the picture, was cheaply made, didn’t fit or was not what we expected. For this reason, we don’t see a world in which physical stores will completely disappear because they allow consumers to properly evaluate an item before purchase by touching it or trying it on. If time is a factor, you can pick up an item from the store faster than having it shipped to you – its all about speed and convenience in today’s digital world. It’s not uncommon for savvy online shoppers or Amazon loyalists to check out the product in the store and then find it online for a fewer dollars. The physical store remains a step in a consumer’s decision-making journey, even if it does not end in a purchase.

Artificial intelligence: How personal is too personal?

Consumers do not consider personalized experiences to be over-the-top unless the brand uses information without their permission. It is true that consumers report feeling annoyed, even threatened when passing by a store and receiving a message or notification acknowledging their proximity and encouraging an interaction. However, surveys show less than half of consumers find this behavior creepy and invasive. This practice is called geo hyper-location. By utilizing artificial intelligence, brands can not only gather information and customize a message to target a consumer with but can also recommend a suggested product with accuracy and offer a customized discount unique to the consumer. While technically very interesting to companies like Tahzoo, we encourage our clients to be wary with geo hyper-location.

Even if you don’t like where this technology is heading, it is not going away. Artificial intelligence, in fact, is only going to expand as retailers plan to heavily invest in it to better understand and communicate with their audience. History proves that “today’s creepy is tomorrow’s normal”. But retailers must by hyper-cautious with hyper-location.

Conclusion

As global retailers increasingly compete for global retail market share, an intense focus on the consumer – their buying habits, their financing preferences, the way they use reviews, their UX experience on-line, where they shop, why they buy – will separate the losers from the winners. Tahzoo stands ready to partner with global retailers to help them better understand their audiences, design optimal on-line retail experiences and provide the technology consulting and implementation necessary to reduce the path-to-purchase and grow their bottom line.

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