3 Things to Know About Online Shopping Before Conducting E-Commerce Research

White wooden table with makeup, nail polish, coffee much and a woman's hands working on a tablet in a shopping app

E-Commerce has been growing for quite some time and a lot of companies have taken advantage of this growth as they move toward more digital marketing strategies— some forgoing a brick and mortar store and traditional advertising completely. But while there’s a lot of information available on online shopping and consumer behavior online, there are a few things to know before conducting any research or strategy to do with online business.

1. It isn’t the Same for Every Location

Most marketing teams already know that not everyone shops online in the same way. However, it also varies heavily by country. The amount consumers spend each month, the frequency, and rate of growth of online shopping are just a few things that vary the most. For example, countries in Asia are currently experiencing rapid growth and if you’re in America, it’s highly likely that you that you’ve purchased a product from China— perhaps without even knowing it.

Similar to when we’re shopping in-store and we happen to purchase an imported item, sites online allow access to products from a variety of countries. Access to global products means more consumers are cross-border or borderless shopping, and that means companies have to account for a potential global strategy to their digital marketing and e-commerce efforts. In our mind, an e-commerce strategy can mean a global strategy, so understanding where a product is sold online, and testing the success of that product through multi-country research can help improve or develop the right approach.

2. It Heavily Influences In-Store Shopping

In-store shopping and online shopping are often categorized as opposites, yet in-store shopping isn’t truly “offline” shopping. Even when consumers are in-store, the likelihood that they did some form of online research before or even during their shopping experience is quite high. Specifically, categories like electronics, furniture, automotive, entertainment, apparel, and health and wellness drive consumers to do more research online before purchasing a product. Companies, whether they have product online, in-store, or both, should look to understand how their consumers are shopping or researching online in conjunction with in-store activities. Research tactics like mobile shop-alongs or video response can generate insight into this behavior. Gaining this knowledge and what activities are taking place online and offline allows brands to develop more comprehensive targeting campaigns and increase top-of-mind awareness.

3. It Varies Heavily by Product

Applying research at an industry level when it comes to e-commerce is sometimes the only option we have, but in reality, when creating specific product and marketing campaigns online it isn’t advisable. The way consumers shop online for specific products now varies so greatly it’s impossible to say behaviors translate across each category. For example, we previously conducted research looking into online purchasing behavior in the grocery and personal care product categories. What we found is that most consumers will still shop by brand and what they know when purchasing these types of items online. However, you look at apparel, books, or home decor and you can see how that might change.

Regardless of where companies are at in their e-commerce strategy, utilizing research to approach it with a global but targeted mindset could help drive growth in the space. To learn more about online consumers and how to garner brand loyalty in the e-commerce space, check out the report below.

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