Offline and online shopping: the different behavior companies need to know
Companies should be aware that people who choose offline or online shopping have different needs and habits.
Understanding how consumer behaviors vary between offline and online shopping is useful for setting goals and deciding which marketing actions are best for the audience you want to reach.
In fact, people who choose to shop online from an e-commerce retail store do not follow the same customer journey as those who go to the store. However, they have points in common. Today, even those who choose offline shopping are influenced in some way by digital technologies. At the same time, e-commerce shoppers are not immune to offline brand advertising.
The definition of consumer behavior
According to the paper "Comparison of Online and Offline Shopping on Consumer Behavior", consumer behavior refers to the actions of individuals who are directly involved in the business of obtaining and using economic goods and services, including decision making activities. It is influenced by internal and external factors. The former concern the consumers themselves, while the latter concern the context. As you can imagine, the variables are so many that it is impossible to predict them all.
In any case, among the factors that influence consumers' desires and habits are:
- Cultural factors: ranging from the traditional culture of the country of origin, to subcultures related to age, neighborhood, ethnicity, religion, and social class;
- Social factors concerning the belonging groups and their peculiarities: family, friends, but also social status;
- Personal Factors: age, job, income, lifestyle, personality and self-image;
- Psychological factors: motivation to satisfy desires and needs, perception of situations, beliefs and attitudes.
These factors mix and overlap, leading the individual consumer to be more or less inclined to offline or online shopping, interested in certain goods, influenced by advertising or other’s opinion.
Online shopping behavior
In light of all the factors above, it is impossible to define a precise pattern of online shopping behavior. However, statistics say that consumers are now spending more in online stores than physical stores. And according to Nasdaq consumers will make 95% of purchases online by 2040.
When deciding their strategies, companies should remember why consumers love online shopping:
- Comparisons: Online consumers can compare brands, products, prices and switch between items quickly;
- Plenty of choices: There are more items and more brands online than in a store or mall;
- Continuous shopping: e-commerce never close and consumers can shop even in the middle of the night or during Christmas lunch;
- Immediacy: there is no traffic, no bad weather, no queues outside the shops, no crowded shops or other obstacles that slow down or worsen the experience;
Reviews: 97% of consumers check online reviews before making a purchase. They also tend to spend 31% on particularly positive reviews. At the same time, 22% of consumers say they won't visit a business that has received a bad review. (Source: Medium)
What online shoppers want
For example, consumers want to be able to browse an online store and check out as a guest. They also don't like having to fill out too many forms. On the contrary, they want a smooth and fast experience, especially for payments. In this regard, consumers also expect flexible payment options, such as "buy now, pay later”. The return process must be as simple as possible, too.
Access on all devices
Nowadays users can start his purchase on the PC and then finish it on the smartphone. For this, they want brands to allow them to move from one device to another without interruption. It also includes already completed checkouts with their personal details to finish the purchase on any device.
Just as consumers expect to carry on an experience from device to device, they also expect to seamlessly be able to continue an experience as they cross channels, such as from social media profiles, apps, newsletters and to the physical store itself.
Online consumers have no patience. They want to receive the goods as soon as possible and expect transparency on costs and shipping methods.
A personalized experience
The attention threshold of online users is very low and this affects shopping. For this reason, an offer or content that is not immediately in line with the needs of the potential customer is enough to lose their attention. On the contrary, the more the contents, offers and initiatives that a brand proposes are in line with the needs of the customer, the more they will remain engaged, increasing their customer loyalty.
Offline shopping behavior
Offline shopping isn't dead. On the contrary, many consumers still like shopping in stores.
The typical offline shoppers are:
Impatient: They don't want to wait for a two-day free shipping, they want the product now. It takes great pleasure in walking into a store empty-handed and leaving with a new item.
They want to interact with the items: consumers want to use all their senses to choose a product.
They appreciate the assistance of the shop staff: They want to have advice from those they consider experts, express their needs and get immediate and, above all, human feedback.
- They live shopping as an experience that begins with the journey to the store.
Despite this, consumers who shop offline do not reject the online dimension. Conversely, they may have searched online for information about a product or brand before going to a store. At the same time, they may follow brands on social networks, or have signed up for digital loyalty programs.
The right choice is combining online and offline services
The great news for businesses is that you don't have to choose whether to cater to online or offline consumers. In fact, technologies offer the possibility of integrating the two worlds and giving everyone a superior customer experience.
For example, interactive devices in stores and smart labels on products allow offline consumers to access more information about the items they are viewing live. At the same time, smartphone apps, loyalty programs and push notifications can maximize online shopping, for both consumers and businesses.