Consumers Want Better Product Info, Search From Online Retailers

December 16, 2011

oracle-suggested-improvements-to-online-shopping-sites-dec11.gifThe leading improvements US and Canadian consumers want from online shopping sites are more detailed and visual product information (37%), better search (29%), and easier access to a customer service representative via live help options such as click-to-call or live chat (20%), according to [pdf] an Oracle study released in December 2011. Data from “Cross-Channel Commerce 2011: The Consumer View” indicates that roughly 1 in 5 consumers want store contact information to be easier to find, while about 17% want better site design and navigation and an easier checkout process. Only 13% cited personalized offers as a top 3 site experience improvement.

In-Store Visits Primarily to See Products

In line with consumers’ desire for better product information online, the leading reason (3 responses allowed) customers reported for visiting stores was to see the product before they buy it (75%). 44% said they visit a store when they need the product right away, while 41% said they will go to a store to avoid shipping charges.

Shipping appears to be an important running theme: 63% of respondents said they abandon items in their online basket because shipping charges are higher than they expected, while free shipping was also cited by the largest proportion of respondents (52%) as the most important online shopping factor. According to an October e-tailing group study, 73% of consumers rated unconditional free shipping as a top 2 very important or critical feature when making a purchase from a website, making it the most important site feature.

Customers Prefer Anonymity

oracle-retailer-use-of-personal-data-dec11.gifWhen asked what they expect retailers to know about them, more than twice the proportion of the Oracle survey respondents said they do not want retailers to track their purchase history (42%) than said they want retailers to know what they purchased on any channel (20%) or know what they put in their online shopping cart (15%). Customers were also almost 70% more likely to say they did not want retailers to know anything about them than to expect retailers to make recommendations based on what they had previously purchased (37% vs. 22%).

Younger consumers, however, appear more comfortable with retailers knowing more about them: 24% of consumers aged 18-24 and 20% of those aged 25-34 expected retailers to know what they put in their online shopping cart but did not yet buy, compared with fewer than 10% of older consumers. Similarly, 1 in 5 consumers aged 18-24 expected store associates to know their past purchase history, a proportion that drops to 14% for those aged 25-34, and less than 10% for older consumers.

Cross-Channel Pricing Views Mixed

The leading expectation for consumers when shopping online and in stores with the same retailer is to find the same price via both channels (37%), although this is closely followed by the proportion expecting online prices to be lowest (34%). Other leading expectations include rapid and fee-free order fulfillment (34%) and the ability to return via any store or channel (29%). Roughly 1 in 5 say they should be able to access their online shopping cart from any other channel, and that in-store promotions should be better.

Other Findings:

  • 54% of consumers regularly employ 2 or more channels before they make a purchase.
  • If an item is not in store, 44% of respondents said they expect a store associate to find it online or at a store, while one-quarter said they would leave the store and find it online.
  • Roughly one-third of consumers said that the quality of the product is a priority when they shop online, while 3 in 10 said an easy return policy is important.

About the Data: Oracle’s online study polled 2,169 US and Canada consumers aged 18 years or older.

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