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Study: Online shopping crosses channels


Teaneck, N.J. – Online shopping is here to stay and increasingly occurring across a variety of channels.

According to the sixth annual Shopping Experience Study of more than 5,000 consumers by Cognizant, 64% of respondents said they buy online at least once a month, and 13% make weekly purchases.

Product selection, availability, price, and ease of checkout are just a few of the reasons consumers value shopping online. And they are shopping online using far more tools than a PC. Importantly, 25% of shoppers say they use their mobile devices to compare prices “most of the time” when shopping. And 8% of shoppers actually prefer using their mobile devices over their desktops for online shopping.

Fifty-five percent of shoppers reported using their smartphones to comparison shop. Shoppers are also getting more active with retailers on social media and are happy with their interactions; 58% have posted at least one product review online and 67% say they have received responses from the retailer. Of these, 94% say they were happy with the response.

Thirty percent of shoppers use buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) at least once per month. Interestingly, 6% do it once per week or more. While 6% may seem low, 65% of shoppers who use BOPIS end up purchasing additional products when they pick up their items in the store.

Yet 60% of shoppers reported service failures when using BOPIS, such as long wait times at the counter to pick-up the order, items not ready for pick-up as promised, confused customer service associates, and items being either damaged or incorrect.

Eighty percent of shoppers are members of at least one retailer loyalty program, and 32% of shoppers consider loyalty a top three reason for not making a purchase from the lowest price retailer. Almost half (49%) of shoppers are likely to promote retailers on their social media networks to earn more rewards.

The top four benefits shoppers expect to see from loyalty programs are earning points or rewards per dollar spent, getting automatic discounts, achieving a “status” level and earning more benefits, and receiving special offers based on purchase history and preferences.

Retailers also need to be aware of consumer concerns about technology security. For example, 26% of shoppers say security of personal information is a top three factor when making a purchase, ahead of availability of information and checkout and return policies when shopping online.

Asked differently, 68% of shoppers are somewhat to extremely concerned about the security of their payment methods. In fact, 80% of shoppers said they have refrained from shopping at specific retailers because of credit/debit card security concerns (often citing Target’s 2013 breach and Home Depot’s 2014 breach).

As a result of this deep concern over security and privacy, shoppers are unwilling to share certain personal information, including address (27%), income (24%), and family info (19%). The three pieces of information shoppers are most willing to share are gender (68%), product/brand preference (65%), and age (55%). Interestingly, 11% of shoppers say they are unwilling to share any information at all.

In addition, shoppers expect retailers to be proactive and transparent about security and data breaches. Seven in 10 (71%) feel it is either very important or extremely important for a retailer to communicate with customers on what steps they are taking to protect customers’ credit/debit card information.

If a breach occurs, shoppers expect full disclosure about what has happened and what steps are being taken for remediation (71%), and personal notification about what information was or may have been compromised (63%).

Looking at the store experience, shoppers’ two most requested improvements are more knowledgeable associates and associates who can match prices. A store associate’s ability to price match increased in importance from 2012 to 2015 (21% in 2012, 29% in 2013, and 44% in 2015).

More than 90% of shoppers say price is the top reason for buying an item from a different retailer after they visited a store without making a purchase. In fact, 55% of shoppers leave and go to another retailer if they feel the price of an item is too high.

Since shoppers said the top reasons they didn’t choose the lowest price retailer are convenience (48%), loyalty programs (32%), and return policy (31%), retailers may want to revisit their programs and enable technologies in these areas to avoid the race to the bottom on price.

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