Facebook has published a new research report, in conjunction with Kantar, which looks at how the evolution of digital media has disrupted the modern shopping process, and what retail brands and marketers need to plan for within their process.
That, of course, has been further exacerbated by the pandemic, with an increasing number of shoppers turning to online discovery and buying channels in place of physical stores. And while that’s been a necessity over the past 12 months, it’s also awakened many consumers to the convenience of such, which will lead to a lasting, accelerated shift towards online spending, which all retailers need to note.
Facebook’s research report is primarily focused on users in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but the results have implications for all regions and consumers, with a range of keynotes and pointers on the rise of eCommerce, changing expectations in product discovery, and the shifting role of brand relationships within this process.
First off, Facebook notes that the rising adoption of online content formats has also lead to new opportunities for product discovery and exposure.
“New digital formats, especially video and live content enable new ways to engage online audiences and keep them coming back. As video formats proliferate, from over-the-top video viewing to live streams, the overall digital environment will become more immersive than ever.”
We’ve already seen platforms like TikTok and Facebook incorporate new forms of live-stream shopping, where products discussed within the broadcast can be purchased, then and there, within a few clicks. The report suggests that formats like this will become more popular over time, providing a more immersive, engaging aspect to the online shopping experience.
The report also looks at the key drivers of purchases, noting that ‘convenience’ remains the key driver – an area that online brands still need to address.
As per the report:
“Given that the main driver of shopping online is convenience, this is an indication of how much further online shopping channels have to go before being a reliable replacement for offline shopping. Consumers have high expectations and are not willing to lower them when online shopping.”
In line with this, the report also notes that even the slightest inconveniences in the purchase process can lose you sales.
“In Hong Kong, fuss-free checkout is a basic requirement. 1 in 3 will abandon their carts if checkout involves too many steps, while another 1 in 3 expect the payment authentication process to be fast and require no action from them. In Taiwan, as mobile catches up with desktops as the dominant mode of shopping, the availability and ease of mobile payment modes will be critical.”
Being able to physically look at an item, and take it home with you then and there, remains a key consideration, and a key value point for physical shopping. New developments like AR are seeking to bridge this gap, along with processes like live-stream shopping, but the responses here underline the need to ensure your purchase process is as seamless and integrated as possible, to reduce that gap wherever you can.
A key benefit of online shopping, however, is the capacity to compare prices, and get the best deals in fewer steps.
“As shoppers become more affluent and sophisticated, so do their consideration factors. Beyond price, globally consumers are prioritizing factors such as convenience, shoppability, and assortment when selecting a retailer. Mature consumers have developed more complex consideration factors, not only looking for the cheapest products but, more subjectively, the “best” products.”
Which points to benefits for shoppers, but for brands, that may not be the best news, because as the report also found, brand loyalty is also waning.
“According to Nielsen Global Consumer Loyalty study, it is found that only 8%of consumers consider themselves committed loyalist to their favorite brands. With the variety of choices presented in consumers’ lives today, coupled with rising spending powers relative to product costs, brand switching becomes effortless and less risky.”
In line with this, the report also notes key factors for improving brand loyalty, which should be factored into all brand-building and customer service strategies.
“It’s crucial for brands to meet each driver to arouse brand love amongst shoppers and to reignite opportunities for re-purchases, right after the first purchase is being made. By getting key drivers right, it will also improve brand-shopper relationship where brand love will blossom from thereon.”
In summary, consumers have more choice than ever, and in order to make them come back to your brand, convenience and service remain key, even in an online shopping environment.
The full report runs over four separate blog posts and includes a range of additional insights into changing consumer behaviors. It’s worth a read if you’re looking to build your online brand and selling process.