Redwood Shores, Calif. -- Convenient access to the information that drives purchase decisions is the main reason shoppers go online, according to a new survey conducted by the e-tailing group and sponsored by Oracle. Eighty-one percent of the respondents said that ease of research and comparison shopping were the top reasons they shop online. And increasingly, they are doing it across product categories, including staples. Seventy-five percent research tech purchases online before deciding to buy, and 50% said they do the same for commodity products.
“One of the things I found most interesting about the results was that more and more people are relying on the Internet to do research on staples. They are trying to get the best deal by searching online,” said David Dorf, senior director of technology strategy, Oracle Retail.
The study, The Connected Consumer 2012: Evolving Behavior Patterns, also highlighted the critical role store associates play in the purchase decision: 40% of consumers said a savvy store associate can impact their final product selection more than a website.
“One of the takeaways from this report is that store associates can definitely make a difference,” Dorf said. “At a time when many retailers are de-emphasizing sales associates, the study make clear that the store associate is the retailer’s contact person, the person who will seal the deal.”
Consequently, Dorf added, it’s important to make sure store associates are property equipped with better access to product information, insight to available inventory, promotions and recent customer transactions in order to facilitate the store or cross-channel sale
“Retailers should invest in training and equipment,” he said. “With 81% of consumers going online first, it’s critical the store associate have the same information or better.”
The study also found that laptop and desktop devices are still the dominant electronic product research and shopping vehicles (51%), followed by smartphones (32%), whose usage jumped up from 27% in 2011 and 13% in 2009
“With more and more people having access to smartphones, retailers are learning the importance of putting product information on mobile phones,” Dorf added.
In other findings:
- Sixty-seven percent of consumers said the main reason they shop in stores is to touch and feel products.
- Price management strategies are critical, as 80% of consumers said price is the most important element when they choose a product.