If your business does not have an online presence in this day and age you are becoming a minority in how small businesses do business. Just about everything is available online as online-shopping has become more secure, easier and less time-consuming. An online presence can be anything from a full website accepting orders, updates and customer service to a free directory listing with basic contact information. More and more web shoppers are purchasing products online. For example, Amazon is now offering a service for $79 per year which includes online streaming of movies as well as free 2-day shipping. Previously, a hindrance to ordering online was the delay for orders to be processed and the number of days it took for purchases to show up at your door. However, now shipping has gotten easier and cheaper as well as hosting your businesses website on a dedicated server. There was quite a stir when the cheap dedicated server hosting market started to roll out $99 monthly server prices enabling many websites to be hosted at much lower costs.
Almost every type of tangible goods can now be found on the Internet for purchase such as apparel, books, computers, cosmetics and even consumer-packaged goods (CPG) such as food and other perishable items where delivery time is essential.
According to a report from Nielsen, 26% of the respondents in their survey indicated that they were planning to purchase food and beverages via an Internet enabled device, and just as interesting to even complete an original order via a hand held device.
A vast majority of online shoppers conduct their own research into a product they may be planning to purchase such as checking for the price at various online retailers and looking up reviews on the products and retailers. Interestingly, in the Nielsen report, most research and product purchases were made by those in the Asia-Pacific and Latin America region and among the lowest in North America. (Internet penetration was factored into these results.) Contrary to the Asia-Pacific and Latin regions, most popular with the North American Internet visitors were searching for coupons; this also, frequently applied to social media when conducting research and making a purchase decision. Consumers in the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions spent the most time whereas North American consumers spent the least amount of time on social media sites.
Most payment methods used by consumers worldwide were by far credit cards and debit cards/accounts while PayPal came in third.
It seems that North Americans prefer making purchases from online-only websites if that is their only option. If there is an actual store or “brick and mortar” store they will be a little more inclined to visit that physical location than to only makes an online purchase every time. Latin America was the only region that preferred to purchase from “brick and mortar” store websites more than website only sites.
Determining what your customers are looking for and their payment preferences are vital for business. For example, if your customers are looking for social-media activity or coupons instead of listings of sale prices or if most purchases are made via PayPal, make this process more streamlined or as a clearly visible feature. Are visitors asking questions via your Facebook page (because they are heavy social media users) or via the contact page? Focus on which one is more popular and how it can be improved. Visitors will look for online coupons at coupon directories, social media, flyers and even via mobile phones, but not on your website. Online shoppers are also not looking for deals or sales via social media, therefore, finding your target audience and engaging with them is crucial.
Not all CPG shoppers are trendsetters expecting the newest online-purchase experience which can become a little overwhelming for some online shoppers. Best to keep those options or features available and visible but not overwhelming the other shoppers that may be used to the “brick and mortar” shopping experience.
For more information please visit Nielsen.com; “How Digital Influences How We Shop Around the World” August 2012.
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