Online retailing is set to reach a total sales value of £87 billion in 2013, representing 12% year-on-year growth, according to researchers IMRG and Capgemini. Online retail giants like iTunes, Amazon and LOVEFiLM have already taken advantage by capitalizing on this e-commerce internet economy boom, so make sure you’re making the most of your online platform when it comes to growing your customer base online.
Understanding the motivations behind the rise of internet shopping is essential if you want to optimise your website and improve the online shopping experience for your customers. So why are people in the UK buying more of their purchases online? Here are five key reasons why people shop online, and how your business can benefit:
1 They can search for exactly what they want.
Shopping online offers a much easier way for customers to search for exactly what they want at the click of a button. The customer data gathered from online searches offers great insights into what customers want; for example, if enough people came into your shop asking for the same products, you’d consider stocking them, and in this same way you can use your website analytics to stock relevant products and offer better services to your customers. You can get really good insight from the keywords bringing visitors to your website, as well as what people are searching for when they’re there. This data is invaluable, allowing you to jump on trends and fill gaps in your existing ranges.
2. No crowds or queues
For those who prefer to avoid crowds and queuing, online shopping has some clear benefits. So it’s important to make your purchasing system easy and stress free. Keep your checkout forms as brief as you can. Remember that although online customers understand that they won’t receive the order immediately, offering a range of delivery options will satisfy those impatient shoppers and minimise the number of online baskets abandoned at the last minute.
3. Shopping convenience
Customers increasingly prefer the flexibility of online shopping as it offers the convenience to shop when they want and from wherever they happen to be. With your website available 24/7 it allows you to connect with customers whenever they want to spend money. Social media and e-newsletters make it possible to target relevant communication to your customers around the times when they’re most likely to buy – paydays, lunchtimes, after work, after the morning school run for example. This is when insight into your customer demographic and their online habits becomes vital for your marketing and sales strategy.
4. It is easy to compare prices and reviews
Consumers can easily compare prices and reviews online before making a purchase. For this reason it’s important to make sure you’re targeting potential customers earlier in their buying cycle. 81% of people research their purchases online before committing to buy, so it’s important to provide all the information they need for comparisons up front – detailed product information, pricing, availability, delivery options and timings. There is also a great opportunity to bring in reviews and endorsements from previous customers especially as 79% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation*.
5. They can shop further afield
An online store allows your customers the option to shop from further afield as they are not restricted by geographical location. Research shows that people in the UK still prefer buying from British companies with four out of five people preferring .co.uk websites when searching or buying online.
With the right website, small businesses can reach as many people as the biggest high street chain or supermarket. While local custom can be your bread and butter, don’t forget to factor in the wider UK audience for your SEO, advertising and marketing strategies.