44% of Product Research starts on marketplaces

44% of Product Research starts on marketplaces

New research from inriver exploring online shopping behaviours and preferences has found that consistent product experiences are vital in driving purchases. The report, “Inside the mind of an online shopper,” is based on a survey of 6,000 consumers across the US, UK and Germany. It found a startling apathy toward brand loyalty, with only 14% of respondents claiming they likely wouldn’t switch to a competitive product if their first choice was unavailable. Combined with marketplaces now being almost 5x more likely a starting point for product research than a brand’s own website, the report explores the various emotional triggers and must-have experiences retailers and product manufacturers should consider.

Where does consumers product research start?

According to the report, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay are now the starting point for 44% of all product research, accounting for the largest share of search, compared to only 19% for search engines themselves. Brands’ own websites comparatively languish, commanding only 9% of initial searches. This trend was particularly pronounced in those aged 18-24, where 52% use marketplaces as their starting points vs 18% search engines.

The disappearance of brand loyalty

With consumers switching brands or websites in an instant if a product is out-of-stock or unavailable, the research also revealed more than two-thirds (69%) of shoppers have decided against buying products generally due to poor descriptions. Combine that with 45% of those surveyed feeling frustrated when faced with bad product information and 82% of shoppers likely to look at multiple locations for information on products, the report highlights how critical it is to optimise all content and ensure consistent and high-quality experiences across all channels.

The foundation of ecommerce success

Brands and retailers need to rely on their product content to do the selling for them with product information becoming a company’s digital front door. The research compounds this with 83% of shoppers agreeing that product information was either an essential or very important factor in purchasing decisions. And it is still written description that is seen as the most important detail (39%), outshining images (24%), customer reviews and ratings (19%), and video (12%).

“It’s no longer good enough to excel across just one or two channels. Consistently high-quality experiences, findability, and availability are a must across all domains or brands and retailers risk losing significant sales. That simply isn’t an option during this year’s Golden Quarter with many expecting this year to reach record numbers. Brands can no longer rely on their name alone to seal the deal. Loyalty has shifted and brands need to ensure they’re meeting customer expectations both of the product and in the purchase journey to beat stiff competition on the digital shelf.”
– Thomas Zanzinger, CEO, inriver

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This is interesting, as it contrasts with the regular 'did not read the product description' customer service interactions. Also, on both marketplaces, full product description (Amazon bullet points notwithstanding) are a long way down the page and, in eBay's case, a scroll and a click. Both not useful for phone-based purchasing.

Peter Hough • 10th November 2021 •