It’s no secret that Americans are becoming more comfortable than ever with ecommerce. In a recent survey by Walker Sands of about 1,000 U.S. Internet users, only 1 percent of respondents say they never shop online. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) shop online at least once per month.
What types of products are consumers most likely to buy online? In 2013, the products most often purchased online were electronics (bought online by 69 percent of respondents), books (67 percent), clothing (63 percent) household goods (38 percent) and office supplies (30 percent). Sporting goods, pet supplies and groceries were purchased online by 20 percent of shoppers. The least popular category for online shopping: luxury goods, which were bought by just 6 percent of shoppers.
So what motivates customers to buy online as opposed to just browsing a website or visiting a physical store? Free shipping was far and away the biggest purchase motivator: A whopping 80 percent of survey respondents say free shipping makes them more likely to buy online. Convenience is important, too; two-thirds of respondents say they’re more likely to buy online if they can get one-day shipping.
Customers also want the security of knowing they can return or exchange a product without having to pay to ship it back. Sixty-four percent say they are more likely to buy online if a company offers free returns and exchanges. And 30 percent say they’d be willing to spend more than $1,000 to buy an item online if they get free shipping and returns. By comparison, just 10 percent are willing to spend that much without free shipping and returns.
In fact, consumers are getting so comfortable with online shopping that they now want brick-and-mortar stores to be more like ecommerce sites. Nearly half (44 percent) of survey respondents say they’d like brick-and-mortar retailers to give them product recommendations based on their past purchases, the way Amazon makes recommendations based on buying history.
How can you make your ecommerce site stand out from the pack? One way to do so is to think about what you can copy from Amazon, which is far and away the most successful online retailer. A whopping 95 percent of survey respondents say they’ve purchased something from Amazon in the past year, and four out of 10 say they would feel comfortable purchasing any type of product from Amazon, including groceries and luxury goods.
- Tracking customers’ purchasing history and offering recommendations for products they might like
- Encouraging customers to rate and review your service via follow-up emails
- Offering customers the option to save products in their carts for later purchase
- Alerting customers via email when prices change on products in their carts
- Offering free shipping for purchases over a certain amount
- Offering free shipping and returns
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