Online purchases have unintended consequences for consumers and businesses, many of which are not good.
Participating consumers feel increased anxiety, qualified measures of confidence, a sense of isolation and exposure, unfulfilled expectations about delivery times and convenience, as well as difficulties and frustrations with policies and processes about product returns.
Overall, online purchases are recognised and accepted as offering substantially lower prices, often up to 60%.
Overseas and global online providers are perceived to have prices that are typically 20% (and more) lower than those of competitive Australian-based online businesses.
Both alternatives are identified to be cheaper than traditional brick ‘n’ mortar outlets.
Access to websites, scanning and evaluating offers, and the processing of orders, payments and deliveries were all rated positively by a significant majority of consumers who participated in a series of 12 focus groups conducted in six state capital cities during July.
Noticeably, consumers expressed concerns about an absence of personal service and reassurances about post-purchase attention.
Most Australians conclude that they are less loyal to businesses, products and services with online transactions than they had been, and were with in-store dealings.
However, a majority of consumers intend to continue utilising online channels, to identify available products, services, prices and offers.
The appeal of buying online is generally enhanced in circumstances where consumers can collect the purchased items from sellers’ local premises.
Lead researcher, Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus, said:
“It is evident from these research findings that online channels are opening up opportunities, profiling brand names, products and services to more, new and potential customers, and enabling consumers to be better informed and discerning about available offers and competitive products.
In short, they are opening the door. However, in most instances, they are not closing the deal or cementing the relationships.
Consumers have become more anxious, price sensitive, and opportunistic in their buying patterns. Overall, the shopping experiences fall short of expectations.
Therefore, loyalty is waning. The loyalty online tends to be related to the platform, not the retailer, product or service. Consumers are inclined to relate to buying on Amazon, eBay or will Google for information.
Clearly, brand equity for local businesses has been compromised as a consequence of the internet.”
Article by Barry Urquhart, Managing Director, Marketing Focus www.marketingfocus.net.au