"Smart Consumers" have higher expectations
e-commerce platform provider Demandware has released the results of a survey examining the shopping behaviors and preferences of online consumers.
Conducted in early 2011, the survey focused on consumers who are innately drawn to the Web, accessing it several times per day for information, from multiple touch points and locations.
Of the 454 consumers surveyed across North America, the U.K., France and Germany, 90 percent were smartphone owners, a group at the forefront of new shopping experiences and increasingly dictating the way retailers must engage with them across all channels.
The research reveals that in comparison to traditional consumers, these “smart consumers” have heightened expectations of retailers and the overall brand experience. When presented with a positive online shopping experience, they are more likely to reward retailers with brand loyalty, with 67 percent indicating their willingness to share a positive experience among their network.
Conversely, the survey also showed that these consumers can be very unforgiving, with 72 percent compelled to share a negative online experience with friends and family, and 70 percent turning to a competitor as a result.
The research shows that a bad experience in one channel doesn’t just impact a consumer’s perception of that channel, but that consumers associate a negative experience across the entire brand. Fifty-two percent of “smart consumers” who have a bad experience online are less likely to shop from that brand again in an offline channel, while only 38 percent of traditional consumers shared the same attitude.
Although they increasingly shop across channels, “smart consumers” trust the Web above all other channels as a means to access product information, and it has become a critical touch point even in the store. Eighty-three percent identified their Web-enabled smartphone to be the most valuable and useful in-store technology.
Sixty-nine percent of consumers trust Web data, including product information and reviews, more than information attained from a sales associate in the store, while only 16 percent believe that store associates are the best resource for product information. But 43 percent of consumers will trust a sales associate more if the associate is aided by a Web-connected device.
By enabling increased access to product information, smartphone ownership increases the expectations that consumers have of retailers. With smartphone adoption projected to outpace traditional phones by the end of 2011, the fast-growing “smart consumer” population will quickly become the majority.
Retailers not prepared to deliver exceptional brand experiences and ubiquitous access to product information run the risk of alienating these consumers and losing market share to their fast-moving peers.
“The smart consumer represents the new consumer,” says Demandware vice president of marketing Jamus Driscoll. “We believe our research provides valuable insight into the future of commerce. Empowered by greater access to the Web, the new consumer is becoming increasingly agile and sophisticated, and will continue to raise the bar for the way commerce is conducted. Retailers must prepare their businesses now to adapt to this new era of commerce.”