Which Digital Tools Impact Online Shoppers?

July 9, 2015

Epsilon-Use-Impact-Digital-Tools-Shopping-Jul2015Retailer sites, printable coupons, and retailer emails are the most commonly used digital tools by online shoppers, though they’re not the ones wielding the greatest impact on shoppers’ journeys, details Epsilon in a recent study [download page]. The report – based on an online survey of more than 2,800 respondents – determined an impact score for each tool by averaging the percent of its users saying it has influenced them across 10 areas. Those areas range from influencing choices (e.g. “it influences my choice of stores,” “it influences my choice of brands”) to impulse buying (“I make more unplanned purchases,” “I spend more than initially planned”) and utility (e.g. “it makes shopping easier,” “it makes shopping faster”).

Interestingly, the digital tools with the highest overall impact score were retailers’ social media activity and price comparison sites, although they had relatively low penetration rates. Shopping applications, brands’ social media activity and product reviews were also among the most highly rated by their users. The influence of product reviews has also been noted in a separate recent study of e-commerce behavior, in which online shoppers cited them as important content on retailer websites and in retailers’ shopping apps.

Some tools may have had low average impact scores but rank better in certain criteria. For example, retailer emails ranked higher in influence than in utility or overall impact. Indeed, recent survey results suggest that they are useful promotional vehicles, with emails offering free shipping and those offering discounts being the most likely to prompt shoppers to shop at a retailer.

Meanwhile, the Epsilon report notes that the average influence of the digital tools identified has grown markedly from the previous year, with influence in this case referring to the degree to which they have swayed respondents’ shopping and decision-making behavior. Utility scores (improving the shopping experience) have remained generally flat, with several tools (including websites and emails from both retailers and brands) actually receding in perceived utility.

Notably, social media emerged as a top influencer of product trials, as three types of social activity were among the top 5:

  • Retailer social (29% saying it influences them to try new brands and products);
  • Brand social (28%);
  • Printable coupons (23%);
  • Daily deal sites (23%); and
  • Friend social (22%).

Those results are support by a recent study from Nielsen, which indicated that social media posts are a growing source of new product awareness.

About the Data: The results are based on an online survey of a representative sample of more than 2,800 primary household shoppers, asking about their usage of 16 digital shopping tools in 12 retail channels and 12 product categories.

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