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If a fear of cart abandonment or high return rates are tormenting your organization, here’s a hard truth: It’s not them (consumers, that is); it’s you.
But there’s hope. Salsify’s “2023 Consumer Research” (which offers a consolidated view of surveyed countries) and "2023 Shopper Research" (an interactive country-by-country breakdown) reveal insights from more than 6,000 global consumers as to why they’re shopping the way they are — and why they’re not buying your products.
Explore the top reasons why consumers get conversion cold feet before purchasing your products — or later return them — as well as what you can do to combat noncommittal consumer behavior.
2023 Global Guide to Consumer Behavior
How are global consumers shopping for clothing, groceries, furniture, hardware, and more in 2023? Learn more about the latest behavior trends and how rising prices are playing a role.
Even if you experience promising interest and traffic from consumers checking out your products, they might take a closer look and run the other way. It might sting, but there are a variety of reasons why consumers might just not be that into you.
More than half (55%) of consumers wouldn’t purchase a product online due to bad product content, according to Salsify research. While this may not come as a surprise, examining more context around the harmful effects of “bad product content” can help.
A few things to consider about bad product content:
Word-of-mouth carries a lot of weight — especially in online buying: Salsify also found that 54% percent of consumers wouldn’t purchase a product online due to bad product reviews.
You can’t avoid every bad review ever, but you can showcase positive, detailed consumer reviews (and maybe offer incentives to gather these reviews) with filters so shoppers can see how products work for like-sized or like-minded people.
Maintaining an air of mystery or intrigue isn’t the best strategy to attract online shoppers. To know your brand is to love your brand (or something like that). Salsify also found 32% of consumers wouldn’t purchase a product online because they were unfamiliar with a brand or believed it was disreputable.
Understanding consumer behavior to get them to convert online is only part of the battle. When they receive your product, will they actually keep it? Salsify found that there are three top reasons customers return products purchased online:
More than half (54%) of consumers returned an item due to it being the wrong size, clothing fit, or product dimensions. Of course, you can’t always control if a customer has unique preferences for how an item actually fits them or their space.
A few other things to consider about the poor sizing, fit, or product dimensions:
Being caught off-guard by inaccurate appearances rarely ends well. Offering a gallery or collection of high-quality photos and images that show your product in its best light isn’t catfishing but a necessity for consumers. Salsify found that 39% of consumers returned an item because the product didn’t match the images provided.
All the excitement that often comes with unboxing a new item can be crushed in an instant, perhaps literally: Thirty-eight percent of consumers returned an item because the product was damaged or in poor condition, according to Salsify.
Taking a hard and honest look at your product content and the experiences you offer is necessary for growth. After all, it’s natural consumer behavior to do so wherever they find you on the digital shelf.
Not all customers can see you the way you want to be seen. You also can’t control where a consumer first interacts with your product. Offering an omnichannel experience, while positive and necessary, can pose challenges if your product content or images are inconsistent across channels.
According to Salsify, the top page feature that helps consumers decide what to buy in the U.S. (72%), Great Britain (68%), France (67%), Australia (65%), and Germany (62%) is the product description.
Since consumers can’t physically engage with your product — whether it be an item of clothing, a grocery item, a piece of furniture, or a piece of hardware — you have to give them the next best thing through the content and experience offered on your page.
If you’re a furniture company, for example, consumers also find Q&As from the manufacturer to be helpful. Thirty-three percent of U.S. consumers, 31% of consumers in Great Britain, 31% of German consumers, 23% of French consumers, and 29% of Australian consumers consider this feature important, according to Salsify.
In this case, there’s no such thing as too much information, but be mindful to prioritize the content a consumer needs to know and present information in digestible ways through bullet points, comparison charts, imagery, and more.
There are some other ways to boost consumer confidence when they’re considering a conversion.
Incorporating less-than-stellar product reviews is an important aspect of maintaining transparency with potential customers. Even if your product isn’t shown in its best light, you can let your customer service skills shine by showing how your team rectified the situation — either by offering a discount code or a personalized suggestion for something that will better suit the customer’s needs.
Additionally, just because consumers might be unfamiliar with or wary of your brand doesn’t mean your reputation can’t improve. And, if you’re trying to tap into new markets, the top two ways consumers find new products, Salsify notes, are social media and shopping apps.
Even if some consumers become customers, their loyalty might not last. However, a return isn’t the end of the world. But how can you lessen the chance of one the next time a customer engages with your company?
Comprehensive product content. This also includes enhanced content like videos, image galleries, 3D imagery, user-generated content (UGC), and more.
It’s especially crucial when it comes to selling clothing online. (If it’s a European cut, tell them it’s a European cut.)
But you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) rely on your in-house content and imagery alone. Another content-based way to combat returns is UGC. According to Power Reviews’ “Consumer Survey: Returns in Retail 2021,” 67% of those surveyed say that viewing user-generated imagery and videos makes them less likely to return online purchases.
A shopper is unlikely to become a repeat customer if they can’t even enjoy your product in the first place. If you’re experiencing returns of damaged items, adding in a final layer of quality control before the item is shipped off might be your best bet.
Or, if your company is concerned with the waste associated with secure packaging, innovations in sustainable or biodegradable materials, like corrugated bubble wrap or cornstarch packing peanuts, are a great option.
How your company processes returns and exchanges also plays a huge role in whether a customer will come back. Overall, 85% of those surveyed in Salsify’s consumer research consider delivery speed and flexibility to be important. Additionally, rising costs have led 73% of consumers surveyed to report they’re looking for discounts or free shipping.
The way to win more customers (and keep them), have them keep your products, and win the digital shelf in 2023 and beyond all coincide: It lies with bettering yourself (your product content, that is) and being committed to providing a reliable, enjoyable experience wherever and whenever consumers cross paths with you.
Tapping into customer research for insights into what fuels consumer behavior doesn’t hurt, either.
Feel like your organization needs to expand its horizons? While it’s not the same as an international vacation, you can access the full report, “2023 Consumer Research,” to become a bit more globally-minded.DOWNLOAD NOW
Yvonne Bertovich (she/her) is an editor and writer at Salsify, reporting from Knoxville, Tennessee. With a longtime passion for research, she enjoys flexing her perspective on ecommerce, trends in consumer behavior, and health and wellness.
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