In response to demand for greater insights into the online customer, a new report by KPMG International analyzes the online shopping preferences and behaviors of more than 18,000 consumers in 51 countries, by geography, generation and product category.
“Today’s consumer no longer goes shopping, but is shopping, all the time and everywhere. And in a truly global online marketplace, competition is no longer limited to local shops during regular business hours. Consumers can easily buy from retailers and manufacturers located anywhere in the world—or from those with no physical retail locations at all,” comments Willy Kruh, Global Chair, Consumer Markets, KPMG International.
“Increased competition, combined with consumer demand for richer experiences, means that retailers need to rethink their online strategy. For many retailers, creating an online shopping experience enhanced by technology such as augmented and virtual reality or 3D is becoming at least as important as providing convenient and personalized ordering, payment and delivery options.”
The number of online transactions made by survey respondents averaged 17 purchases per year, or 1.25 per month. Generation X consumers (born between 1966 and 1981), averaged nearly 19 transactions per person per year, and they made more online purchases in the past 12 months than any other age group. In fact, Generation X consumers made 20 percent more purchases than the ‘tech-savvy’ Millennials (born between 1982 and 2001).
“Stage of life and income levels are certainly primary factors driving both online and offline shopping, and Generation X consumers, many of whom are more established in their careers and may be building homes and families, are likely buying more consumer goods than the younger Millennials overall. As Millennials continue to enter the workforce and adulthood, however, their online shopping activity is expected to surge and even far surpass the levels currently exhibited by older generations,” explains Ciprian Negura, Senior Manager Management Consulting, KPMG in Romania.
And while it may be presumed that the more traditional Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) are less inclined to shop online than younger generations, the survey revealed that in fact they shop online just as frequently as Millennials. Furthermore, Baby Boomers were more likely to spend more per transaction than the younger consumers (average purchase for Baby Boomers was US$203, US$190 for Generation X and US$173 for Millennials).
Online or offline?
When comparing the impact of online versus offline touch-points that create the first trigger moment, of note is that 52 percent of consumers cited at least one offline channel as a source of initial awareness, and 59 percent cited one or more online channels.
Retail websites or online shops were the most common source of initial awareness, cited by nearly a third of consumers, and online advertisements were cited by 15 percent. At the same time, physical shops were the second most popular source of awareness, cited by 22 percent of consumers.
Millennials were not only more likely than the older generations to be influenced by online sources such as social media or peer reviews—they were also more likely to be influenced by offline channels. Millennials were 25 percent more likely than Baby Boomers to have seen their most recent online purchase in a shop, nearly 50 percent more likely to have talked to a friend about it, and more than twice as likely to have seen someone with it.
“Ecommerce is not an online-only affair. Both online and offline channels are effective in creating consumer awareness and demand, especially when used together. Furthermore, despite the rise of online shopping, ecommerce still makes up a relatively small percentage of total retail spending. Retailers’ brick and mortar strategies need to continue to evolve to attract customers into their stores, and to compete with online retailers opening their own physical outlets. Increasingly, we are seeing innovative marketing strategies, as well as new technologies such as smart shelves, robots, self-checkout, and interactive and virtual reality, being deployed in stores, as retailers strive to compete on all fronts”, says Dinu Bumbacea, Partener Management Consulting, KPMG in Romania.
Why and where they shop online
The number one reason that consumers said they shop online is for the convenience of shopping at any hour on any day (cited by 58 percent as a top reason). This is followed by having the ability to compare prices (54 percent), or to find online sales or better deals (46 percent). All age groups reported the same top three drivers. However, when it came to locating harder to find items, Baby Boomers reported having a higher motivation for shopping online (26 percent of Baby Boomers versus 20 percent for Gen X, 17 percent for Millennials, and 20 percent overall).
When asked what is most important when deciding where to buy an item online, consumers were most likely to buy from the website with the lowest price they could find (57 percent) followed by websites with enhanced delivery options (43 percent) or easy return policies (40 percent). There was a notable difference between generations when it came to the importance of being able to see online whether a product is in stock. Millennials were the least concerned about being able to see real-time product availability (cited as important by 28 percent) versus 36 percent of Gen Xers and 37 percent of Baby Boomers.