The Evolution of the Online Shopping Experience in Focus

It is important to regularly monitor the behavior of online shoppers; not just individually, of course, but in aggregate, as it offers up an opportunity to refine a company's broader strategy.

Omnichannel commerce platform Kibo just released its annual 2018 Consumer Trends Report and it provides some excellent insights into exactly this.

Kibo found that consumers favor interactive content, multiple fulfillment options and an enhanced shopping experience as top factors that drive their purchasing decisions. Let's take a closer look at the data.

The rise of the shopping "experience" - one that provides a rich, informative, and personalized online and in-store experience - is by far the most important trend in the ecommerce space today.

While 61% of Kibo's survey participants, named price as the top factor influencing their purchase decisions that percentage is actually down by more than 12.8% year over year. By contrast, according to the study, the importance of the shopping experience actually doubled, and the percentage of participants naming the variety and speed of fulfillment options as deciding factors grew by 1.3x and 3x, respectively.

What this ultimately means is that the online shopping experience has changed, and changed dramatically, but how?

More than half of survey respondents say they expect extensive content on branded manufacturer websites today, suggesting that product images, videos, reviews, detailed specifications, comparison guides, and other consideration tools are all important investments.

Inventory access and availability in particularly are increasingly crucial according to the Kibo study, with more than half of survey participants indicating they expect a manufacturer's site to have items in-stock, while 45% believe they'll find a greater variety of products available, and 40% believe manufacturers will have more items than retailers.

Another interesting data point in the study relates to the 'Buy Online, Pickup In-Store' (BOPIS) trend.  67% of survey participants have used BOPIS in the past six months and there are reasons for that behavior. Kibo's data revealed that shoppers recognize that BOPIS offers not only free order fulfillment, but also a degree of flexibility and control not available via home delivery. The ability to inspect items in the store before taking them home was the BOPIS benefit whose importance grew the most year over year -- suggesting that stores' tactile experiences are important brand assets

"As merchants struggle to thrive in the era of Amazon and increasingly look for ways to engage consumers, the key is to understand what factors influence a consumer's buying behavior," says Tushar Patel, CMO, Kibo.

"These behaviors are ever-changing and the goal of Kibo's annual report is to better gauge where those changes are so retailers and manufacturers can evolve their shopping experience to meet and exceed customer expectations. This year it is increasingly clear that while having fair and consistent pricing on all channels is extremely important, merchants have an incredible opportunity to engage shoppers with seamless experiences that include, but are not limited to, flexible fulfillment options like buy online, pickup in store. Shopping has changed and brands must adapt today to thrive tomorrow."