In 2016, an estimated 1.61 billion people worldwide purchased goods online. Global e-commerce sales amounted to $1.9 trillion, and by 2020, projections are estimated to reach up to $4.06 trillion. Also, 96 percent of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase at some point in their lives, 80 percent having done so in the last month alone. These impressive e-commerce statistics make it seem, at first glance, as if the modern consumer is now operating completely online. However, while online sales have grown exponentially over the past decade, 92 percent of sales in the U.S. still occur in local stores, and not online.
Although in-store purchases are more prevalent, smartphones are still the driving force in retail change. Four in ten mobile users have used their device to make an online purchase, 29 percent have used their mobile device to make an in-store purchase, and 62 percent of shoppers have used their mobile device to conduct research while they’re in a store.
So, what do all these statistics mean for both e-commerce and brick and mortar startups in 2018? Is the modern consumer leaning more toward becoming completely tech savvy? Do they want to stick to more traditional shopping methods? Or do they want the best of both worlds?
Read on to discover everything you need to know about the modern consumer’s shopping habits, and how they will continue to change as we look ahead to 2018.
Embrace an omni-channel retail marketing strategy
In order for startups to remain competitive and relevant to the modern consumer, they must embrace an omni-channel, or multi-channel, retail marketing strategy. Digital channels are driving consumer behavior and conversion rates, with websites and mobile devices having the highest influence. Omni-channel shopping experiences are revolutionizing the way consumers purchase goods. While consumers prefer to make most of their purchases in a retail store, they like to learn about new products and conduct their research online.
Here are some key insights from Criteo’s “The Shopper Story 2017” study:
- 75 percent of shoppers globally engage in omni-shopping
- 74 percent of shoppers prefer to shop in stores when they have time
- 69 percent of shoppers like to do as much online shopping as possible
- 62 percent of in-store shoppers use their mobile devices to research products
- 50 percent of consumers have indicated that retail websites are more influential in the purchasing process than word of mouth, search and even social media
1. Protect customer data
Keeping your customers safe should be paramount to every business, especially as mobile payments are expected to reach $503 billion by 2020. There are still many shoppers who are concerned that their personal information could be hacked if they use their mobile phone for a transaction. As a business, you have a responsibility to protect your customer’s privacy. Decreasing this statistic should be at the top of every company’s “to do” list.
Top Tip: Help protect consumer data and your business by making your payment security systems a top priority in 2018.
2. Capture your customer’s feedback
Marketing material and buying experiences should be tailored to, and centered around, your target audiences. Having an omni-channel strategy that incorporates customer feedback into the development of your products and services is a great way to successfully capture your consumers’ attention.
Top Tip: The modern consumer wants to be heard, so make sure you listen!
3. Be authentic
It is important that consumers get a real and honest sense of a product. This should come from authentic businesses and people who have tried and tested the product, rather than a fictional advert that doesn’t accurately represent them.
Top Tip: Consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on customer reviews, as opposed to aspirational advertising, so make sure you’re capturing honest reviews and making them available to the public.
4. Develop a retargeting strategy
Modern consumers expect to be retargeted. It’s a fantastic way to maintain a relationship with your consumer. They want to be shown new and exciting additions to your brand, so keeping them up to date via retargeting ads is a great way to ensure recurring business from them.
Top Tip: Be brash! Don’t be afraid to be audacious in your marketing. Stand out and boldly retarget!
5. Pay attention to your demographics
Of all generations, millennials are the most likely to shop online. Sixty seven percent of millennials and 56 percent of Gen Xers prefer to shop online rather than in-store, whilst 41 percent of Baby Boomers and 28 percent of seniors will click to purchase. Interestingly, parents spend 61 percent more money online per year than non-parents; we can infer that this is due to lifestyle and time constraints.
Top Tip: Be inclusive. Don’t forget that the modern consumer is constantly evolving and it’s important not to focus all your efforts exclusively on one group of people.
6. Consider your pricing strategy
Price and shipping costs are the most influential factors in consumer purchasing decisions. Nearly half of all online product searches (48 percent) begin on marketplaces like Amazon. The most purchased categories online are clothing, shoes, accessories, books, movies and music. In America, shopping habits of both men and women are similar across all channels, however, men spent 28 percent more online than women did in 2016.
Top Tip: Remain competitive and be savvy with your shipping options.
7. Stand out on social media
Millennials like to use social media for shopping ideas and inspiration. Websites and apps are now the biggest drivers for global brand and product awareness, with 62 percent of shoppers researching online before they buy in-store. Ensuring your social media presence is strong, consistent and engaging is crucial to remaining relevant.
Top Tip: Dare to be different: your social media is a way to speak directly to your consumer. Develop your brand. Be playful. Be Bold. Be better than everyone else.
8. Be tech savvy
Power shoppers use retailers’ apps more frequently to search and browse products. They want customer service options as they shop online. But they also want store-based shopping convenience and capabilities.
Top Tip: Be at the forefront of technology! Always be prepared to go the extra mile.
Overall, the modern consumer likes to research products online, but still enjoys buying items at a brick and mortar store. Consumers want to feel empowered, and therefore want options available to them that meet their individual needs, making shopping more convenient and personalized. Consumers are driven by price and positive shopping experiences, and are best influenced by customer reviews.
The modern consumer is anticipated to become more mobile, complete more online e-commerce transactions in the coming years, as well as make in-store purchases using their mobile devices. However, they will first need to be reassured that their personal information is secure. As a startup, whatever your setup (e-commerce or brick and mortar), the best way to ensure your customers are continuing to shop with you is to make them feel that their data is secure in your hands.