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How Consumers Make Decisions In The Digital Era


by on 10/12/12 at 2:48 pm
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Four out of ten people prefer to research online before purchasing offline (ROPO). A vast majority of all sales still happen offline though. So how do we make sense of the online-offline relationship?

One of Google’s recent studies suggest some interesting links between online research and higher basket size. French entertainment and electronics retailer FNAC found that in Spain ROPO customers spend around 33% more in-store than those who haven’t done any online research.

With certain brands, 65.7% of online purchasers did research online before buying offline. Similar and consistent strong growth can be said for online research amongst online purchasers across all products categories. Examples such as gifts, flowers, groceries, appliances and clothing. Further what is really interesting to note is that products of higher value that require more careful decision making, result in more online research thus in more online purchases.

There are still issues of trust, usability and availability surrounding e-commerce, all of which can be seen as factors that push consumers towards purchasing offline. But the reasons why a consumer actively chooses to research online before buying in a store are not so well understood and quantified.

Online won’t replace offline, but digital plays increasingly important role

For consumer packaged goods, online shopping will not completely replace trips to stores anytime soon. However, digital will continue to play an increasingly important role. Manufacturers and retailers will benefit from examining both the marketing and the sales/e-commerce opportunity afforded by digital,” said Nikhil Sharma, Vice President, Consumer & Shopper Analytics at Nielsen.

The fundamental needs of shoppers are convenience, value for money and choice. Certain brands and products are more successful at e-commerce than others. The keys to success in the digital shopping environment is understanding the shopper’s needs, how a product category gets shopped and the digital touch-points that influence shoppers’ decisions along the path to purchase.

The most popular reasons for customers not purchasing online is wanting to see the product before purchasing, secondly buyers want to take the goods away with them immediately. The rest of the indecisive consumers can be narrowed down to purely wanting to get more information or having questions answered on products that can be addressed offline.

There is still much to be understood how online and offline purchasing activities team up. What can be said is that heavy offline media such as TV, print ad radio affect online consumer research as well as online purchases. Reciprocally, yet online research drives offline brick and mortar sales too.

Bernadette Homor is passionate about online marketing and as the Head of Affiliates at Admarula.com she specializes in affiliate, social media and SEO marketing and has gathered extensive knowledge in the field of Internet marketing . Being an affiliate herself she gets to explore all angles of entrepreneurship on the Web. View more articles by Bernadette Homor.

Tags: advertising, digital marketing, online

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