There is a good reason why brick-and-mortar retailers spend a lot of time and effort on their counter displays and store windows. Their goal is to provide their customers with as much visual content as possible to entice them to buy their merchandise. The same principle holds true for online retailers. A recent study by international e-commerce consulting firm Episerver demonstrates just how important the content of a website is to convince visitors to become customers.
Episerver surveyed 1,112 consumers who had made an online purchase within the past year. The company found that 98% of the respondents had not made a purchase on at least one of the sites they visited due to incomplete or incorrect content. When aggregated across all sites visited, a percentage breakdown of the specific reasons for not making a purchase were price concerns (65%), difficult-to-navigate website (42%), found a product that better suited needs elsewhere (39%), difficult check-out process (34%), slow loading website (29%), incomplete content (21%), incorrect content (14%) and non-personalized shopping experience (4%).
Another problem noted by the study was inconsistent customer expectation based on website content, with 37% of the respondents stating they had received a product that looked different from the product they saw online. Also, 27% of the respondents said they had received a product that did not match the description on the website.
These inconsistent expectations also had a significant financial impact on the retailers, with 48% of the respondents saying they had returned a product that had not met their expectations. The study noted that returns cost retailers billions and that the amount is expected to increase as the volume of online sales continues to increase.
The study also found that 92% of the respondents visited a website for the first time for reasons other than to make a purchase. About 45% said that they visited a website to search for products and learn more about them, 26% visited to make a price comparison, and 11% were looking for more information about a retailer. Only 9% said they made their first visit to a website specifically to make a purchase.
The study concluded that online retailers needed to spend more time on concentrating on website content and the quality of the interactions consumers had with their site.
Commenting on the study, Ed Kennedy, Episerver’s senior director of commerce, said: “Our study shows consumers really care about content when shopping online, not only the quality and accuracy, but also how it’s delivered to them. Complete and accurate content is now table stakes, and brands looking to go above and beyond must consider personalization.
“What shoppers see on a website or mobile app, and how it is delivered to them, can make or break their final decision to make a purchase. Consumers expect the content they’re shown to be relevant, accurate and, increasingly, customized to their preferences and location. To compete in 2017, strong content is no longer negotiable.”