ChannelAdvisor Catalyst: 10 real life consumers

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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

26 Responses

  1. Interesting read. However, I didn’t understand this part:

    As far as the shipping cost goes the perception is that you can offer wholesale prices and so adding in free shipping is reasonable.

    What does that mean? Does it mean they want wholesale prices and free shipping?

  2. Price transparency and inclusive shipping is fine if you operate your own website free of fees.

    Until eBay come up with a solution that does not impose a fee of any type on shipping then no matter what eBay say it won’t work on eBay as eBay is all about the lowest price first and foremost and positioning yourself to offer that.

  3. I thought this was excellent.

    Expecting free shipping (within 2 – 3 days) and free returns shows just how demanding the average buyer is becoming.

  4. Interesting that a portion (how many exactly?) of these 10 buyers percieved that offering more expensive to process payment methods (such as a cc merchant account) makes the seller/website more reliable.
    Would have thought that keeping seller costs down would have been more acceptable as this will maintain the lower “wholesale” prices these buyers hunker after.
    Paypal is often more scary for sellers than buyers.

  5. Ten buyers “chosen at random are given no briefing on the Catalyst event” – did they drag them in off the street? 🙂

  6. I think it is very interesting to hear what these guys have to say and I often ask people I know about online shopping because when you work in online retail you do have a much better understanding of it, which to some extent makes you a better online shopper.

    These guys don’t know the difference between a lot of what we do and are just ‘buying online’ the in’s and out’s don’t bother them.

    For example the other day a customer phoned up, was unsure how to use the website so I talked them through it and the checkout process. It wasn’t until I did that did I realise just how much information was laking in our checkout! Plus it only took one customer, not 100 for me to see there was issues!

    Stu

  7. Talking of people “talking about eBay” I received a communication today from a research company looking for “participants” and their opinions on online shopping including eBay and Amazon etc. If anyone is interested just email me and I’ll forward it to you. If you register and participate they pay you £50 !

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