If you had the chance to read my last blog post, you'll know that we did a lot of research into online shopping habits. Unsurprisingly, our findings are heavily skewed towards Amazon. As a single shopping destination they represent more than 70% of our data points for Canadian consumers, while no other e-commerce site represents more than 3%. That doesn't mean Amazon has 70% of the online shopping market share - it just reflects how the shoppers from our sample searched and made shopping decisions. Regardless, Amazon has an outsized effect on every aspect of e-commerce and it is the experience shoppers measure their expectations against every time they shop somewhere else. So let's talk a bit about what the Amazon experience is for shoppers.
Shopping on Amazon has remained largely unchanged for nearly a decade from the shopper's perspective. There have been dozens of tweaks to the interface but the basic method of finding a product, adding it to your cart and checking out would be very familiar to even a user who last browsed Amazon in 2010. This familiarity is one of the keys to the experience for many shoppers. When we watch how they interact with search results and product pages we can see that most people are making buying decisions based on a handful of data points. Most have made a preliminary purchasing decision before they click through to the actual product page and are searching for any negative information that would cause them to change.
This method of shopping is very different to what we see at most other e-commerce sites and probably has mainly to do with trust and risk. Shoppers at Amazon rate their trust in the experience significantly higher than they do for other sites. What may be even more surprising is how they rate their risk in an Amazon transaction as significantly lower than both other sites and even brick and mortar stores. The topics of trust and risk are worthy of their own blog post, but for our purposes here it's most important to understand how they figure in to the overall experience.
Trust is inseparable from your brand. Your past experiences with a brand form quite a large portion of that trust, but there are other considerations. For brick and mortar retailers having a physical location lends an instant boost to your credibility. Being local ratchets that trust even higher. But Amazon has built the trust their customers feel in them by removing risk. They have generous return policies and "free" shipping both ways. Then there are positive buying signals like testimonial reviews from other shoppers and inventory status. These elements all reduce the risk the consumer takes when buying from Amazon. Coupled with the time savings of buying online versus travelling to a retail outlet the balance tips strongly in favour of an e-commerce purchase.
Some of these puzzle pieces simply aren't available to brick and mortar retailers. Instead of trying to duplicate Amazon's success, take a closer look at both your in-store and online shopping experiences. Look for ways you can give your customers more positive buying signals and reinforcing those with messaging that builds trust in your brand. Think of the risk your customer is taking when they buy from you - even if it's subconscious - and find ways to either remove the risk or reassure the customer.
At NEAR we're working on solutions that can strengthen a potential customer's trust and confidence in your brand. Our goal is to help you build a customer experience that rivals Amazon and helps you position your company for sustainable growth and success. To learn more about our research or services, send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org