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Online shoppers opt for convenience before price

Contrary to what many marketers think, the ability to shop around for cheap prices is not uppermost in most online shoppers’ minds.

In times of economic downturn, it’s very tempting to think that the way to win customers hearts is to cut prices until it hurts. But is that borne out by the facts? Recent research from GartnerG2 has revealed just the opposite. The report, Price is Nice, but Convenience Comes First, reveals that 81% of online shoppers value convenience when making a purchase online, compared with only 33% who opt for price savings. But the report’s author, GartnerG2 analyst, David Schehr, warns: “This is not to say that online merchants should begin to raise their prices, but alternatively, they should focus their energy on getting the customer in and out of the site as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

GartnerG2 expects online Christmas shopping to exceed US$25 billion this year; 39% up on last year. And apparently a lot of that is driven by the sheer convenience of shopping online.

Convenience first
The report also found that saving time is more important  for today’s shoppers than saving money. Convenience-related issues (like speed and ease of access) are the dominating factors driving people to shop on the internet – in fact, 49% of respondents named convenience as the only important factor. Just 2% felt that only price is important, while some 30% felt that both price and convenience are important.

It’s interesting that almost six out of ten online buyers buy only from a handful of sites with which they are familiar. This saves them the time taken to search for a suitable retailer, and also allows them to navigate the site more quickly. Who says that there’s no room for building loyalty on the internet? According to Neil MacDonald, vice president and director of research for GartnerG2, “Buyers can get the same product at a low price from any number of sites. In the end, the primary factor in choosing your site will be convenience.”

Play on motives
GartnerG2 therefore recommends that retailers play on these motives in their promotion. Examples would be to focus marketing messages on saving time, concentrate on ease of use, lack of complexity and speed of transactions, emphasise the connection between price and convenience, and don’t confuse shopping with entertainment: don’t clutter the site with content that isn’t functional.

Some 4,400 adults were surveyed.

For more information on the report visit www.gartnerg2.com

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