ShopTalk: 5 online commerce tips for SMBs


Shopping online is easier, and more widespread, than ever. Mobile devices can facilitate purchases anytime, anywhere by allowing consumers to research prices, read online reviews, and complete transactions with the touch of a button. In 2016, eCommerce sales accounted for 8.1% of total sales in the United States. Given its relatively low penetration, one can only imagine that the scale and growth of digital commerce will continue to climb well into the future.

In a recent ShopTalk survey, Socratic Technologies and Vantiv found that 92% of consumers across all age groups (Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and Retirees) made online purchases within the 12 months leading up to the survey. They tend to shop with large online merchants like Amazon and Overstock, with 79% of respondents making purchases with these types of retailers.

Mass merchants like Target and Walmart are also popular, with 41% of respondents shopping with these types of digital retailers. Millennials and Gen Xers are particularly fond of mass merchants, as they are the age groups most likely to make purchases on these types of eCommerce sites. Rounding out the top three are department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom at 32%.

But not all online merchants are popular. There are still some types of purchases that consumers would prefer to complete in-store. Online home furnishings merchants are the least popular, with only 7% of respondents shopping at these types of digital retailers. Online sporting goods retailers are the second least popular at 11%, followed by office supply retailers at 12%.

The survey results illustrate a preference to shop with large eCommerce players. This can be due to the fact that large businesses often have the budget, staff, and systems in place to build and maintain highly sophisticated websites and digital storefronts. Research suggests that only 50% of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have websites. And cost is a chief concern - 30% of SMBs that don’t have online properties cite cost as the reason why.

A well-built website or digital storefront can give even the smallest businesses the visibility they need to attract browsers and convert them into customers. It’s estimated that Google now handles over 2 trillion searches per year. To not host a website means missing out on this valuable traffic.

For SMBs interested in hosting websites, building e-stores, or investing in existing digital properties, there are some valuable takeaways from the ShopTalk survey that can help with their digital strategies. Here are five takeaways.

  1. Easy checkout is the most important online shopping feature
  2. The majority of survey respondents, 77%, report that quick and easy checkout is the most important feature in their online shopping experiences. Online retailers often let customers save account and payment information, facilitating one-click purchases. Automatic gift card redemption is the second most important feature (72%) and previous purchase history comes in third at 51%.*

  3. Personalized recommendations scored lowest in important online shopping features
  4. Only 26% of survey respondents feel that individual or personalized recommendations are important in digital commerce. The ability to order online and return in-store is the second least important feature at 29%.*

  5. Shoppers will use the online shopping features they find important
  6. The most important features are also the most commonly used. Respondents report using easy checkout 74% of the time, automatic gift card redemption 72% of the time, and previous purchase history 68% of the time.*

    But relative importance and actual usage aren’t always equal. In the survey, 51% of respondents say that previous purchase history is important to them. However, 68% of respondents report using this feature. In addition, 46% of respondents report that wish lists/save for later lists are important to them. But 64% are using this feature.*

  7. Online shopping carts are most often abandoned when shipping costs are too high
  8. Online shoppers don’t like to pay a premium for shipping, with 74% of respondents reporting that they are most likely to abandon their online orders when the cost of shipping is too high. The second most popular reason for abandoning online orders is when shoppers find better prices elsewhere at 52%.

    Despite the safety and security concerns inherent in online shopping, only 20% of shoppers abandoned their orders because they were concerned about the security of the digital retailer’s website.

  9. Women are more sensitive to negative online reviews than men

When women see bad reviews from other shoppers, they are more reluctant than men to complete an online purchase. In the survey, 44% of women reported this versus 33% of men.

Results are based on two separate surveys conducted over two months (November and December 2016). Results with an asterisk (*) are from a survey of approximately 1,000 consumers. All other results are from a survey of approximately 500 consumers.


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