NY and Christmas are a distant memory and even some of the NY resolutions have already been abandoned. As with most of the UK population, I recently got my credit card statements for the holiday season, which made me think…. Not so much about what I bought (my overly cheerful pullover has safely survived the 28 days return period and sits proudly unpacked on top of my shelf) but where I shopped and spent money this holiday season.
I consider myself digitally aware to say the least and have accounts with a good dozen online retailers, yet almost all of my purchases happened offline, including a huge TV and two books! Looking at my own experience and talking to friends I can certainly confirm that online shopping is not necessarily online buying. And although online now commands respectable 11.9% of total sales, in certain sectors like grocery purchases under £60 it is still only 1%.
Summary of Internet Statistics for November 2013, UK (Office for national statistics)
Reflecting on my own purchases I have to admit that almost all of them have been researched online in one way or the other. Why? I wanted a quick sense of what the fair price was, what the overall choice was, what deals were out there and maybe read a few reviews. I guess for me it is “window shopping in a digital showroom”.
But I generally end-up buying offline! For me it is the experience of the product that is a must, and once I’ve tried it and liked it, I want it now. Of course I don’t want to pay more than necessary, or to have no clue what features I am looking for (at least not when it comes to my smart TV) and that’s why I do online shopping, and even spending a few extra quid justifies the convenience of having it immediately. Even better if I can do online shopping on mobile, right before I go buying, or maybe while I am in a shop considering a purchase.
The industry is intuitively finding its way here. The online advertising budgets are soaring ahead of online sales.
Click-and-collect models are not terribly popular with users, online sales in supermarkets are not delivering returns (http://www.verdictretail.com/shoppers-reject-click-collect-but-grocers-need-it-to-make-online-sales-profitable/), and yet almost instinctively there is belief that somehow online still matters for the bottom line in a positive sense.
In Shopitize we clearly see how this works for grocery brands. Try to influence online sale through online activation and you get 60 online “add to baskets” per millions of impressions. However, when we link relevant mobile impression to offline purchase the conversion sometimes reach 60%! That’s 10,000 times difference.
I do not claim this is true for all sectors and companies. Amazon and ASOS are still growing strong. There are products which are perfect for online purchasing: anything that is consumed through the same devices you go online: music, movies, books, games, etc. There are also products that are modern day utilities or that you would buy as a repeat purchase, without any consideration over and over again. Intuitively you’d think that it would apply to groceries, but it turns out our grocery baskets are still pretty unique. The yearlong study, which tracked the buying habits of 32 million shoppers at 9,968 U.S. grocery stores, also found that no two shopping carts were entirely alike.
The shopping process is becoming more complex and the path-to-purchase often crosses online, mobile and high street before it ends in a purchase. There is no reason to expect that this path will end where it has started. The ‘modern story’ has convinced us that the path-to-purchase starts offline and the purchase happens online but we are just becoming aware that the opposite is not only possible but happens way more often than we expect and is becoming an overwhelming trend in many sectors.
By Alexey Andriyanenko