How Digital Channels are Helping Us Understand Buying Behaviours

For years now, we have been told that consumer buying habits are changing. That we are moving away from brick and mortar stores and choosing to shop with our fingers rather than our feet. But, is this really the case? If so, what does this mean for businesses?

This perceived shift towards online shopping and the recent announcement by Instagram that they are increasing the shopping feature on their app has got the online shoppers in the office buzzing. What is interesting to me, and a real talking point with our eCommerce clients is the changes in buying behaviours and how businesses can leverage the digital world to capitalise on these shifting consumer habits.

What do consumers want?

It is no secret we love online shopping. We don’t even need to leave the house to go on a massive spending spree. However, there are pundits out there that say online shopping is killing retailers. Yes, in some circumstances this is true, but if you look at the numbers, you’ll be surprised. Currently, online shopping in New Zealand only accounts for roughly 16% of all retail shopping.

While online shopping is a quick and easy way of blowing a couple hundred on a new wardrobe, people still want the experience you get when shopping. They want to be able to interact with products, see how it works, what it looks like and mull over it in person before purchasing. Not to mention, many people like the perceived security that shopping in-store offers.

For smart retailers, online shopping isn’t the death of their physical store. Instead, it is potentially the key to unlocking the brands’ potential and improving the offline experience. Thus, if they are willing to use the two to complement each other, that is where real success is found.

A new door is open

It used to be a simple process for brands and consumers to interact and ultimately complete a transaction. Everything was done above board and in person. However, the changing nature of our environment has opened up a new channel – digital (well, it’s not that new!). Now, to the untrained eye, these channels may seem independent of each other. However, we have seen the best results are achieved when they are intertwined.

In fact, when strategically linked, combining the two channels, will allow you to reach potential customers a lot earlier and push them through the sales funnel in a much more targeted manner than before.

Think about it, consumers love window shopping, this won’t change. What has changed, is the windows they are looking through. Instead of walking down Queen St and peering in the window, 52% of Kiwis are now window shopping online. We are searching for products on Google, scrolling through brand pages on Facebook and following public figures on Instagram to see what brands they like.

Businesses need to be aware of this and it means investing heavily into improving their presence on the platforms their audience use the most.
But, how does this help me?

The short answer, there are countless touch points now, each capable of providing us with invaluable data that offline channels could never. If there is one thing our digital world is good for, it is producing content and interpreting data.

Never before have businesses been able to hone in on who their customers are and their preference like we can now. If we take a look at your business’ online data, we would see that people aged between 23-34, from Auckland, that work in marketing and enjoy the outdoors, are your third biggest customer base, and largely coming from social media.

Rolling it all out

This type of depth of insight is the business equivalent of having the keys to the city or being locked in a candy store as a kid. The possibilities are endless.

We are able to tailor every piece of interaction we have to the characteristics and choices of our target audiences. No matter where they are in the ‘sales funnel’, we can hit them with messaging and stimulus to push them along. And, if they drop out or ‘abandon cart’, we can pop them straight back into the funnel to keep your brand in mind.

At the end of the day, offline shopping is not going anywhere, Amazon are investing in offline retail stores just as major brick and mortar retail competitors are going out of business. The fact is, people love shopping. They just don’t like the hassle of working around, fighting the crowds and potentially missing out on the product they want. Online shopping is just convenient and simple, and it is always evolving.

However, it isn’t a matter of choosing one or the other. Instead, it’s about being able to understand who your customers are, what they want from your brand and the journey they take to becoming a loyal customer. This is exactly the insight we get from our digital platforms. With these insights, businesses are better equipped to understand these variables.
As they say, knowledge is power. And, once you have the insights into your customers buying behaviours, you will have the power to make informed decisions about what is best for your business.