When it comes to shopping we’re all looking for the quickest, easiest way to get what we want when we want it, however, we want it. In other terms, we are looking for the most convenient way to get the stuff we need.

When it gets a little too hard or barriers are put in the way of what we’re trying to achieve, we go somewhere else.

To achieve this always-on, effortless mindset that consumers have, retailers need to adapt to and embrace Total Commerce. This means as you might have guessed from the opening gambit, meeting the customers wherever they want to shop and, on the terms, they want to purchase. This might sound like a huge task but you can go some way to offering this without ‘selling the farm’.

In some latest research by the team at Linnworks, they found how convenience is more important than ever to time-pushed consumers, and how those retailers that get the customer experience right, will win the sale every time.

During the last year and a bit, necessity has meant that consumers needed to switch to online shopping just to keep getting access to the things they needed, and they did this in droves. The pandemic accelerated the shift that was already happening, and some won’t now shift back, with three in four consumers saying they will be shopping online more after the pandemic than before, discovered in the research conducted by Linnworks.

It’s a big change and even though some retailers seem to have taken it in their stride better than others, they all need to understand both what’s caused the behaviour change and what they need to do to keep up with it.

For nearly three-quarters of consumers, the major factor that drives their desire to shop online more is convenience. Although it has been the only solution for a while now, online retail has always offered an easy solution for many consumers that juggle working from home or at the office and that have to deal with schooling and childcare. Customers have appreciated its benefits. Benefits that all consumers dealing with the pandemic discovered when they had their hand forced as a result of lockdown. And, as a result, that desire for convenience still reigns supreme today and will continue to be a key decision factor when it comes to deciding to make a purchase.

 

Convenience is King

Linnworks research, titled ‘The Effortless Economy: A New Age of Retail’, surveyed 1,000 consumers in the UK and US to understand the change in consumer behaviour. It overwhelmingly indicated that effortless experience was what people wanted, with convenience a top priority when choosing a retailer for more than three-quarters of consumers.

What’s important to take note of here is that it is beginning to outweigh other purchasing decision factors too. Nearly half of consumers say they are now more influenced by convenience than price and a similar amount will sacrifice cost savings for convenience. It’s not only appreciated but increasingly expected – it’s become a lever that can be used as a unique selling point.

And it’s been confirmed by other research too. The National Research Federation found that 97% of shoppers have abandoned a purchase over a lack of convenience and 83% say that convenience is more important to them when online shopping than five years ago.

 

That’s all great but what does convenience actually mean?

All the research indicates that consumers may be putting convenience at the top of the list but what does that mean for retailers, and what do they need to do? The research found a few key things, that almost all retailers can do something about, came out on top.

Firstly, the ability for a guest checkout and to shop across different channels and devices, with as little disruption to the customer journey as possible. Then came easy shipping, with the ability for shipping details to be remembered for future purchases.

This all goes back to what we talked about at the beginning. We all want fast, easy, totally seamless shopping experiences, wherever we are in the buyer’s journey. If we don’t get it, guess what. We will go elsewhere.

The Linnworks research uncovered that two in three consumers have abandoned purchases because they found sites too complicated, and more than half have walked away from retailers entirely. These are figures you need to take note of. If you ignore them, they will hit you right where it hurts most, your bank account.

 

Here’s what you need to do

 

  • Understand how customers shop and make it easier for them to do it in multiple ways

Your brand and shopping experience must be delivered on whatever channel the buyer is on. That means making it as easy and pain-free as possible. Different parts of a purchase journey will most likely be completed on different devices. Linnworks research showed that 81% of customers are looking for a frictionless, cross-device eCommerce experience and that more than half (51%) have abandoned a purchase because they were forced to start the process again when they switched devices.

And when it comes to shopping your social, if you get it right, you’re likely to pick up new customers. The research found that 35% of people have already purchased through social and that 27% more are open to the idea.

One of the key numbers in the research around social is that 71% of those who shop on social would rather complete the purchase on social than be sent to the retailers’ website. This fundamentally changes what most are doing when they choose to advertise on social. Integration with Facebook and Instagram shopping is becoming core to your social selling strategy.

 

  • Offer multiple payment options and make them easy to use

Convenience within payment is about seamless and flexible payment options, with nine out of ten shoppers saying it helps speed up their decision making and prompts them to spend more. This means going beyond just accepting credit cards and into options like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay and as some businesses are starting to offer, accepting cryptocurrency.

A guest checkout option, wanted by 56% of people, allows an even speedier path to purchase. It’s the consumer’s biggest ask.

Consumers are also embracing new, more flexible, convenient payment options, such as buy now pay later. These services are growing 39% a year and nearly four in five shoppers expect brands to offer this as standard, especially on everyday items such as clothing, and around a quarter of consumers have already used it or plan to.

 

  • Offer delivery and return options that the consumer wants

The importance of delivery on customer loyalty can’t be overestimated. A massive 95% of consumers say that convenient delivery options are a major factor in their choice of an online retailer.

Offer next day delivery and click and collect options are rated highly for convenience. Customers want similar convenience when it comes to returns, with nearly nine in ten (89%) saying they don’t want customer services involved with returns, with 87% expecting a pre-paid return label and almost half (47%) saying they are more likely to shop with brands that offer self-service returns.

But this could be taken one step further. Offering the ability to arrange exchanges through your site whereupon new items are sent out when the originals are returned and processed removes the need to wait for refunds to be processed and keeps shoppers with you, rather than looking somewhere else.

 

  • Understand the role of the marketplace

Even though cross-device functionality, guest checkouts and easy shipping topped what consumers looked for when it came to convenience, there is a fourth thing retailers must consider as they strive to deliver convenience – that is the role of third-party solutions such as the marketplaces.

The convenience of online marketplaces, where consumers can shop a wide range of products from a variety of retailers on one platform means it’s a popular channel, with 91% starting their purchase journeys on marketplaces.

But it can be a double-edged sword for many. Yes, they’re convenient but they can also be overwhelming. Nearly half of consumers have abandoned marketplaces because there were too many options, and more than three-quarters (76%) say they would prefer to shop on a branded site or directly if such brands were able to match the convenience of online marketplaces.

This presents a huge opportunity for retailers to deliver a customer experience that keeps shoppers coming back to them directly, bringing the benefits of increased margins and customer shopping data.

 

Final Thoughts

Retailers today need to focus on and win at the idea of delivering an effortless experience by providing a seamless omnichannel journey and a second to none customer experience. We can’t afford for any part of our business to work in isolation and to not be easy and convenient for the consumer to shop.

You’ll find more on the research that Linnworks conducted by downloading their whitepaper on their site. It’s a great read and gives valuable insight that will drive your strategy for 2021 and into the future as you strive to offer the convenience that consumers are looking for.

And if you’re looking for someone to help you work these ideas into your eCommerce strategy and enhance your customer experience, come talk to us. We have teams of experts that can help you in the the areas that Linnworks highlighted in their research.