How To Cash In On The 5 Reasons People Buy Products Online

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Why do people buy products online?

eCommerce sales worldwide rose to over $600 billion in 2011.

But consumers won’t simply buy anything from anybody online.  Products with a big price tag and things that are perishable are among the most difficult types of items to sell online.  Not to mention products that people want to touch, smell or try on before they pull out their credit card.

But eCommerce has become a way of life and website owners that satisfy the requirements of the online shopper are fattening their wallets.

Let’s take a look at five of those requirements and how you can make them present on your eCommerce website.

1 – Comparison Shopping

One of the reasons people cite most often for shopping online is that they can review and compare dozens of stores and products at once.

Rather than having to travel from store to store or aisle to aisle, savvy online shoppers simply navigate from one web page to the next comparing the stores and the wares of those stores.

They search for reviews of your products.  They compare price, quality and customer service — and they can do it all online.

How To Cash In:

This is one way that small eCommerce storefronts can compete with the larger players.

Provide the information your potential buyers are looking for early in the buying cycle.  If they are looking for comparisons, specs, pricing, etc. be sure to provide that information on your website.

Your SEO strategy should not be targeting only buyers that are ready to buy now.  Look to connect earlier in the buying cycle when research is being done.

If you have a longer sales cycle give potential buyers a reason to give you their contact information when they are early in the buying process, primarily their email address, so you can follow up.

See how Tiger Direct asks for an email address if the potential buyer wants to receive deals,

tiger direct

2 – Wider Selection

With the whole shelf space thing being a non-issue online, buyers turn to the Internet to find a wide selection.

For example, Amazon started out as a book seller but quickly expanded across many verticals to become a place where you can buy everything from a MacBook to powdered peanut butter.

How To Cash In:

It may be difficult, particularly if you own a brick-and-mortar store but consider broadening your inventory.  Put the processes in place to get a wider range of product to your customers.  It’s one of the reasons the buyer is online instead of at a  physical store.

Clearly, Barnes and Noble doesn’t carry 30 million products in any one retail location, but they know that online their selection must be expanded.

barnes and noble search bar

3 – Better Prices

It may not be who you are looking for but they are out there.  Bargain hunters.

In fact, many shoppers use a hybrid shopping system where they visit a physical store to determine exactly what they want and then search online for better pricing.  This is particularly true in categories, such as clothing, where the buyer wants to touch, feel and try on the product.

They visit a physical store, find the exact product they want and head to the web to find the best price.

How To Cash In:

If you have the means to offer aggressive pricing, you can capture those bargain hunters.  You could consider options such as drop-shipping, selling used or refurbished items or using a “deal of the day” system to reduce prices.

Even Best Buy is attempting to cash in on the low-price “deal of the day” craze on their eCommerce storefront,

Best Buy Deal Of The Day

4 – Reviews From Other Shoppers

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of social proof online.   Online shoppers report that reading reviews is among the most important reasons they shop online.

In other words, if you want people to buy — you have to show that others have bought.

How To Cash In:

Offer a reviews and ratings system for your products and display it prominently on the product detail pages.

The Facebook Like button can also add a layer of social proof to your product detail page.

Notice how Audible uses Facebook coupled with a review and ratings system to satisfy a shoppers need for social proof.

Audible Social Proof

5 – Saving Time

The only resource that can rival money today is time.  As a result, “saving time” is often cited above “finding the lowest price” as a reason for shopping online.

People that are shopping online are knowingly trading immediate gratification (getting the product now) for time savings and the other benefits of online shopping.

You only have to look at the success of the Amazon Prime service offering to understand the importance that Amazon is placing on speed.

Amazon Prime

How To Cash In:

Buyers that are concerned with time have no tolerance for a poor user experience.  Ensure that your check-out process is as streamlined as possible.  Optimize your website’s loading speed to cater to the time-starved buyer.

Although online shoppers understand that they will not receive the product now (except in the case of digital products, of course) some will be looking to minimize the delay in gratification with faster shipping speeds.  Offer a range of shipping speeds including overnight delivery. if possible, to minimize the number of people abandoning their shopping cart and heading for the local brick-and-mortar store.

Play To Your Strengths

Online shopping has its weaknesses.

Online shopping is not as social as off-line shopping and doesn’t have the immediate gratification of shopping at a traditional store.   Buyers also find it difficult to buy certain products on the web.

But the many strengths of online shopping have ensured that it is here to stay.

The eCommerce storefronts that maximize those strengths while minimizing the weaknesses will cash in.

Russ Henneberry is the Editorial Director at Digital Marketer. He's worked on digital marketing projects for companies like CrazyEgg, and Network Solutions. You can connect with Russ on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or on his blog.

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