In the past few years, online shopping has come to dominate the world of retail. And as consumers adapt and drive change in the business scene, staying on top of emerging trends will allow retailers to set themselves apart and maintain their profitability. Here are some of the key consumer demands and expectations when it comes to online retail.
As consumers have steadily come to embrace the convenience of shopping online with their mobile devices, they have also become increasingly savvy in making their purchases. When you go to a brick-and-mortar store and look through the inventory, if you wish to compare prices at another retailer, you’d have to go over and visit the other store. By contrast, online shoppers can be in multiple stores at the same time, simply by opening a new browser window or through third-party price-matching services.
This ability to go comparison shopping anytime, most often to find the lowest prices across multiple online retailers, is a significant challenge for business owners to overcome. Retailers can choose to ignore the problem or adapt and establish their presence on various comparison shopping platforms. For instance, a retailer with operations throughout Southeast Asia would be able to match prices while increasing their products’ visibility with optimized tags and high-quality images customized to be relevant to each country. Adding value through free shipping thresholds or same-day delivery in a market like Singapore – possible through a cost-effective arrangement with local delivery service – is another excellent way to turn comparison shopping into an opportunity to convert more consumers.
From a retailer’s point of view, handling returns is an unfortunate aspect of the business; every return cuts into their profit margins. Yet if you’ve ever had to return an online purchase, you’ll know that the experience can be even more unpleasant from a consumer’s perspective. Retailers tend to think of the consumer journey as something which ends when they receive and use the product, but it also includes the returns process for those who are dissatisfied. And for many, this negative experience can easily outweigh any other merits of the product or considerations of pricing and convenience.
Businesses can deal with the pain of reverse logistics through product recovery, repair, or refurbishment and in this way, manage to cut their losses. On the other hand, no retailer can afford to lose consumer loyalty. Making the returns process as convenient as possible on the consumer’s side through a clear and efficient policy for free returns is a vital part of maintaining consumer loyalty in the world of online shopping.
One consumer trend that has continued to grow over the years is the demand for sustainability. Today’s well-informed, socially responsible consumer has come to expect that businesses will make an effort to mirror the same sustainable practices which individuals are following in their everyday lives. This is a challenge for many online retailers as they interface with the consumer through a website or app. But when you receive a product which you ordered online, you also interact with the brand through the packaging. Using sustainable packaging creates a positive brand impression which satisfies consumers while also enabling retailers to contribute to saving the environment.
By becoming aware of these consumer trends and taking the necessary responses, smart online retailers will manage to sustain their success and move with the changing times.