Nowadays, online shopping is more than just a hobby or pastime — it’s a way of life. It’s where we go for digital product discovery — you can buy everything online, from groceries to cars to the world’s smallest dancing Jesus.
In the Bazaarvoice Network of 12,500+ brands and retailers, we saw a 39% year-over-year increase of online orders last year. And according to our research, a third of shoppers said they buy something online at least once a week, and 9% said they’re buying online daily.
It’s great that we can now get everything we used to purchase in-store online, but are we still treating shopping the same way? For instance, what about the age-old concept of window shopping? Is product discovery the same on digital channels? Or are we just simply heading online to buy something specific?
Digital product discovery research results
We surveyed over 9,000 global shoppers to find out if they’re browsing online as much as they’re buying online. Here’s the key takeaways from our research.
1. Shoppers browse online more than in-store
It turns out that not only do shoppers browse and discover items way more frequently online (61%) than in-store (34%), but they also enjoy doing so online (54%) more than in-store (40%). This may be due to both the pandemic and the fact that people actually find it easier to browse and discover new items online (64%) than they do than in-store (32%).
Shoppers also credit the fact that they discover products online more than in-store because of convenience (55%), greater choice (46%), and the ability to research reviews/products (45%).
Because shoppers already find browsing online easier and more convenient, e-commerce companies have a huge advantage over physical stores. Online brands and retailers need to ensure that they provide their customers with all of the content and information they need to hit that purchase button.
2. Shoppers make spontaneous purchases more often in store than online
Although shoppers use the digital realm for product discovery, they’re not necessarily using it to make purchases. The majority (67%) of shoppers are likely to buy a spur-of-the-moment item while shopping in-store rather than while shopping online (53%). People are also more likely to make an impulse purchase in-store (59%) from a brand they don’t know rather than online (48%).
This is likely because shoppers want in-person interactions with a product to have confidence to buy it. The need to physically see and feel an item before buying (56%) was the biggest reason respondents said they’re more likely to look for new products in-store rather than online.
3. User-generated content bridges the online browsing and buying gap
So, how do brands and retailers bridge the e-commerce gap that currently exists between browsing and buying? User-generated content (UGC), such as ratings, reviews, and customer photos and videos, is the answer. Our research found that UGC doesn’t just validate online purchases — it drives discovery of new products too.
By making UGC more readily available to shoppers, it will give them the same confidence to buy a product that seeing and feeling it in real life does.
According to our digital product discovery research, product reviews (53%) are the number one thing that consumers want to see on a brand or retailer’s website experience to create an online browsing experience that’s similar to the in-store browsing experience.
When consumers discover a new product online, 76% of respondents say they look up ratings and reviews from other shoppers who have purchased the same newly discovered product. Another 71% said they’re likely to rely on ratings and reviews to help qualify/certify a product they’ve discovered online.
They want to see photos and videos of other customers using and wearing the products as well. And according to another survey we hosted, almost 75% of respondents said that they prefer seeing customers’ photos and videos on online stores over professional imagery.
Turn digital product discovery into sales
Shoppers are scrolling through e-commerce stores with reckless abandon, but they’re not necessarily converting. In order to help your customers press purchase, you need to provide them with the UGC necessary to give them confidence in choosing your products.
Ratings and reviews and customer photos and videos help shoppers to envision themselves using or wearing your products, and makes them more likely to not abandon their digital shopping cart.