What online innovations matter most to consumers?

Much has been written about consumer behavior as a result of the pandemic. So we won’t rehash that here. That said, our affinity and/or dependence on e-commerce has never been stronger. It is a new battleground that will produce winners and losers; brands that grow share and brands that become much less relevant to their customers.

Conversity recently published a study on those customers, over 2,000 of them across the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. We talked to them in late December 2020 and early 2021. We learned a lot of interesting things about those people and their thoughts about trading online.

For example, we learned that just over half (54%) of the people that we surveyed were very confident in their ability to find and purchase the right things on the internet. This was highest in the US (59%) and the weakest in Canada (46%). Consumers in Canada were twice as likely (4%) to suggest that they were “Not at All Confident” as those in either the UK or the US. Not really sure what that means for my neighbors to the north.

What was really interesting in our study was what online innovations consumers were most interested in seeing in e-commerce that they believed would build their confidence to buy. Anyone focused on online conversion rates should care about those insights. The number one innovation that consumers cited was the “Ability to compare product features and benefits”. Here in the United States, almost half (45.4%) or our respondents suggested that this was important to them. Giving consumers the ability to look at more than one option and compare them side by side matters. Not all websites offer that functionality today. Seems like pretty straightforward guidance. The second most cited innovation was providing “Better search and filtering online”. Almost one in three (29.3%) suggested that this would be helpful. And while filtering tools are beneficial, they really only help those consumers who have a fairly good idea of what they are looking to find. The third most sought after innovation was live chat, not chat bot, but real human beings available to speak with. There are now some technologies out there that can facilitate a webinar-like conversation online to help customers with that one last question before they make their final decision. Companies like T-ROC (The Revenue Optimization Companies) offer a virtual interactive brand ambassador solution (VIBA) that provides this very capability. The fourth and sixth most important innovations are personalized offers (27.5%) and help me choose functionality (14.3%) that provide real time relevant recommendations to take the guess work out of it for consumers.

With so many innovations being sought by online consumers today each online trading business owes it to itself to consider what will be best to optimize the customer experience it is trying to deliver to its customers. Brands and retailers that ignore these various improvements do so at their own risk. One innovation that checks a number of the boxes on this consumer wish list is Intelligent Guided Selling (IGS). IGS helps consumers navigate a curated and dynamic question set to better convey who they are, what their motivations are and share what kinds of features and benefits would matter most to them. By offering this customized journey, e-commerce platform providers will create a more human and personal connection with their consumers, will boost sales through increased online conversion rate and upsell, and learn more about their customers’ attitudes and behaviors in near real time. What’s not to like about that?

If you would like to know what else our online consumers told us, feel free to download your own copy of the research here.