Wherever you turn, you see people browsing on their devices. You see them typing all sorts of different queries into Google, looking for answers to even the most trivial of questions.
Digital technology has infiltrated our lives to that extent, that most humans can’t picture their lives without it. I know a lot of people who cannot imagine shopping for certain items or services before checking on the web first what people are saying about them. Digital technology has given us the opportunity to browse through a lot of options, read about the products and services, and make smarter choices.
Like I already wrote in one of the previous articles on this blog, in this day and age, people don’t just cruise around the city looking for places that sell great t-shirts. No. The first thing they do, when they’re interested in something is pull out their phones or tablets, and browse the web.
There are many online surveys that claim that about 60% of people who search the web don’t trust businesses that don’t have websites. I think that this percentage is going to rapidly grow in the next year or two. Having a company website is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.
In order to help you better understand how the mind of a modern shopper really works, I have decided to provide you with some real insight on how digital technology has changed offline shopping forever:
1. Rise of the Educated Consumers
Although one-third of the entire offline consumer body is influenced by what they read on the web, according to Deloitte‘s (a widely popular data analytics company from Netherlands) latest case study called “Navigating the New Digital Divide“, 93% of shoppers still prefer offline to online shopping.
According to their data, an average Dutch shopper will first search online for what he needs, and only then make a trip down to the store to make a purchase. He wants to make his decisions rationally, based on solid intel. He wants to figure out, without any doubt in his mind, what he wants to buy, and from whom he’s gonna buy it. That’s why he spends some time searching the web, reading all sorts of different reviews, blog posts, and comments about a specific product or service.
In Netherlands, there are a lot of different websites where people can compare products and services, and make their decision based on what other consumers are saying about them. http://www.vergelijk.nl/ and http://www.kieskeurig.nl/ are probably the most popular web addresses for this sort of things.
2. Web Presence Has Become Mandatory For Those Who Don’t Even Sell Stuff Online
Once again, according to Deloitte’s above-mentioned study, people especially tend to consult the web when buying stuff like cars, furniture and all sorts of different electric appliances. As you can imagine, these items are usually not something that people want to buy online before they physically see and test them out first.
Most big offline companies are familiar this, and that’s why they are investing insane amounts of money every year in their online presence. Even if their business is not something that could be directly sold on the web, they’re creating accounts on every major social network, and investing their time and money into producing all sorts of different use cases, testimonials, how-to videos and blog posts that serve to help potential audiences on the web see just how good their products and services really are.
Let’s be frank – The internet is a major market. Next to that, it’s extremely well profiled. Anyone who ignores it is missing out on some great business opportunities.
There are still a lot of companies out there in the world who fail to see the benefits in presenting their work and services on the web. Instead of praising the internet for giving them the chance to get a lot more familiar with their desired audiences, who they really are, what they like, and what do they really want, these business are still spending ludicrous amounts of money on fliers and billboards.
Anticipating your potential users intent is probably one of the most important things in running a successful business. Everyone who doesn’t agree with this should probably skip on the whole entrepreneur experience.
3. The Evolution of the Store-Consumer Relationship
Thanks to the internet, consumer behavior has drastically changed. Apropos to that, so has the salesman’s as well. A large number of potential customers these days no longer ask store employees for help. As various survey results indicate, today 54% of the entire consumer body looks for information about various products and services exclusively on the internet. Before purchasing almost anything, they check what people are saying about it on the web.
Most of them seek for information on the spot, using their smartphones and tablets. It doesn’t really matter that mobile banking is still quite new, 41% of consumers are interested in paying for products and services via mobile directly in stores.
Store employees these play a lot smaller role in selling products and services. Most of them are just there to help and pick up the process if it starts to lose on speed and efficiency.
4. Consumers Have Become Dependent On Information
Online shopping has drastically affected the retail market. People nowadays prefer online over offline shopping, as it usually offers heavy discounts, free delivery, and easy return/cancelation policies.
Of course, there are still some products and services that people don’t like to buy directly online. There are still some things like clothes and cars, that people like first to try out before paying for them. Thanks to this kind of things, the offline market is still alive and kicking.
But still, things have drastically changed. Every business these days knows that consumers have become dependent on information and that they have to tend to their every need if they want to survive in this cutthroat world.
These days, consumers have pretty high expectations when it comes to web presence. In order to even consider buying something from a certain company, most consumers will judge its worth and expertise based on the even smallest details about what they share on the web, what people are writing about them, and how their website looks.
As Victor Hoong stated in the Deloitte’s above-mentioned case study: “The pendulum has swung back and clients are increasingly tackling the influence of digital touchpoints on indirect purchase behavior. Technology developments are making influence more measurable and a very relevant battleground for retailers today.”
To get a certain someone to become your customer, these days you cannot just focus on sales. No. You as business must provide your potential customers with solid material that will help them see who you are, how satisfied are other people with your products and services, what your company stand for and what makes it unique.
So, now that we got all of this in the open, we can confidently conclude that offline businesses are pretty much dependent on their online presence and reputation. Offline and online are no longer separate channels. Although people still come physically to stores to buy stuff, their decisions are far more influenced on what they’ve read about online. The internet has become an essential part of every type of business. It can no longer be ignored or put on the backburner.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I hope you enjoyed it.
If you liked what I wrote here, feel free to share this article with your friends and colleagues. Who knows, maybe some of them will find this content useful.
That’s it for now,
See you soon again,
Goran @ AltusHost B.V.