Online shoppers like to get a good deal, but they also want to know for sure what they’re getting. Among U.S. consumers, 46% will not buy a product—online or in store—if the retailer doesn’t provide in-depth details online, according to survey results from ecommerce technology provider Salsify Inc.
Also, 30% of U.S. shoppers say they will not purchase if images are missing or of low quality. And 70% said they are more likely to buy a product from a personally relevant product page, showing how useful it would be or how it fits into their lifestyles.
In November 2021, Salsify surveyed more than 4,000 consumers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, including 1,327 U.S. shoppers.
The quality of product pages affects more than just online sales, says Peter Crosby, vice president of corporate marketing at Salsify. Those pages can also influence whether shoppers buy from a retailer’s store. In part, that’s because, when doing product research, just 10% of shoppers compare products in stores. The rest use online resources, such as a retailer website (42%) or a search engine (25%).
In addition to looking up product information, shoppers use digital information to compare prices and look for coupons—even when shopping in a store. Most shoppers use the web to compare prices across several retailers (59%) and/or check for digital coupon code 54%. Also, 37% said they looked up product information online while shopping in a store.
Among the U.S. shoppers surveyed, 40% said they were most likely to buy a product in a store, making in-store purchasing the top buying option. But when combined, online channels were more popular at 47%. Among the U.S. shoppers surveyed, 35% said they were most likely to buy from a retail website. 12% said they were most likely to buy via retail apps.
46% of U.S. shoppers surveyed were willing to pay more for a similar product if it came from a brand they trusted, compared with just 30% of shoppers in 2021. However, only 30% said they would pay more in exchange for discounted shipping and 29% said they would pay more for faster shipping.
“Consumers are looking for the confidence to buy,” when they visit a retailer’s website, Crosby says. That’s true whether the consumer plans to order online or is researching a product to buy at a retailer’s store. Retail sites that don’t do that will lose customers to those that do, he says.
Crosby says the survey results reveal how smaller retailers can compete against giants like Amazon.com Inc.
“The greatest edge a smaller retailer has is its experience,” Crosby says. Because shoppers see product pages as “the source of truth” for product information, he says, retailers gain an advantage when they provide shoppers with a deep dive into product details and offer quality product images. That is especially true when images show how the purchaser might use or wear the product.
Those kinds of details, he says, make the content more relevant for online shoppers. For that reason, he encourages apparel retailers to show their clothing worn by “people like me” models who look like typical Americans rather than fashion models.
The pandemic changed shopper behavior
The survey found that just 34% of U.S. shoppers claim the pandemic has not changed their shopping habits. The rest said the pandemic had led them to make changes such as shopping online more often than before the COVID-19 pandemic (43%), shopping more on discounted websites (9%), making more use of use “drive to” omnichannel services such as buy online, pick up in store (8%). 5% of respondents said they shop online less and more in-person at physical stores than before the pandemic.
The shift to online buying was most extreme in the grocery category. Among the U.S. shoppers surveyed, 67% said they had never shopped for groceries online before the COVID-19 era. Most shoppers now buy at least part of their groceries online, including 15% who exclusively buy groceries online.
Differences across countries
The survey also found a sizable number of shoppers care about the sourcing and sustainability of products before buying. But when it comes to recycling, there are significant differences across the four countries surveyed. In the U.S., 33% of shoppers said they check product and packaging recycling information before buying, compared with 53% in Germany, 44% in France and 31% in the U.K.
Other notable cross-border differences included:
- 40% of Americans were affected by supply chain shortages at the end of 2021, compared with only 19% of French, 28% of British consumers and 29% of German shoppers.
- The French are most likely to buy directly on a brand site, with 26% saying that’s how they plan to shop next year. That compares to 19% of British consumers, 15% of Germans, and only 13% of Americans.
- In each country, most consumers say they choose private label products because of their lower prices. In the U.S., liking the retailer’s in-house brand made a difference to the perceptions of the retailer for 37% of those surveyed. In contrast, 8% of the British, 13% of Germans, and 14% of French say that mattered.