One of my favourite sessions at ChannelAdvisor Catalyst is the consumer panel. 10 real life consumers who are chosen at random are given no briefing on the Catalyst event tell where they buy online, what makes them use a particular site, and answer questions from retailers attending the conference. In no particular order other than as they were raised here’s some of the comments from the panel.
The consumers favourite websites are: Amazon (3), eBay (2), Google search (2), Play.com (2) and ASOS. Other websites mentioned were Argos (researched through Google), HMV and some independent retailers. The two consumers who shop at HMV previously made their purchases from Play.com however they’ve both switched to HMV as they’re offering a better price and now like Play.com have started to offer free delivery.
Interestingly 6 out of the 10 consumers use review sites to select a new product, but none of them have left a review. The one thing that would make them leave a review would be if the product was bad or failed to meet their expectations. What may persuade consumers to leave reviews is an email offering to enter them for a free draw, definitely phone calls or other followups are unwelcome.
When asked what would reassure them to buy the answer was “some reassurance that it’s not some guy working out of their bedroom”. They look for easy returns, free delivery (and return) and even which courier the company users. Having a phone number available is a must, being able to speak to the company and check general information is a must.
Things that scare buyers are payment methods – Western Union is a big scare, but interestingly websites that only offer PayPal also worry consumers – the perception appears to be that if the company only accepts PayPal they’re not big enough or reliable enough for a credit card merchant account.
One consumer said that on eBay they’d be happy to purchase from an eBay seller with at least 90% feedback, another say they’ll hone in on negative feedback prior to making a purchase.
Talking about Google search results there was little perception of the difference between paid and organic search results. Most of the 10 consumers appear to click organic results and ignore the paid search ads on the right of the Google search page.
The panels consensus is that a reasonable delivery time is 2 (maybe 3) days. As far as the shipping cost goes the perception is that you can offer wholesale prices and so adding in free shipping is reasonable. Being stung for shipping costs at the end of the transaction isn’t a good buying experience – buyers want to know the total cost of their purchase up front.
Disclosure: ChannelAdvisor advertise with TameBay