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Ralph Risk, marketing director, Lightspeed Research Europe

Buying products and services online has become the norm for many people. As ecommerce migrates into mobile and even social commerce, we wanted to understand consumers’ views on buying online, specifically in terms of pricing. What can those entering the new digital retail spaces learn from the experience of ecommerce to date?

The internet is certainly regarded by many of our respondents as the place to buy any item at the cheapest price, from CDs/DVDs (82%) to flights (78%), large electrical items (65%) and clothes and shoes (45%). Grocery performs the worst at 20%. Of those shoppers, 76% said they always or sometimes use prices found online as a negotiating tool when buying the same products on the high street.

The rise of price comparison sites has added to the impression that the internet is about low prices. With such sites being so prominently advertised on TV, it’s no surprise that 75% of our respondents had compared prices online in the past six months. Only 2% said they never look for product reviews online before making a purchase, while 68% believe it’s important a product has good reviews, with a third saying this is very important. Whether they rely on professional reviewers or consumer comments, most would change their minds about a product or service after reading up to three poor reviews, and 24% after just two.

While discount vouchers have been popular for some time, the advent of Groupon and similar players will further educate consumers to look for an even better deal, putting the pressure on etailers to trim prices further. Mobile commerce in particular has grown up with vouchers, whether they’re location based, served in-store or sent directly. Our research showed that 59% of respondents that had downloaded a voucher to their smartphone had subsequently used it.

Price is without question an important part of online retail’s continuing evolution. The challenge for those entering digital retail channels is to turn delivering what consumers want into a profit.


Published 12 May, 2011 by NMA Staff

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