Online Shopping Behaviours Vary Significantly, And Often Unexpectedly, Along Demographic Lines

A new report describes how different groups of consumers research and purchase products and services across different channels – including websites, stores, contact centres, mobile, and social channels – and how they assess these experiences.

The research shows a rapid pace of technology adoption and complex consumer behaviors now driving and shaping the future of cross-channel commerce.

While merchants continue to debate the return on social commerce investments, ATG’s survey indicated this is an area they may be ignoring at their peril, as 29% of respondents aged 18-34 said they have discovered a product or service through a social network and 37% of those same consumers said it was “important” or “very important” that merchants provide an opportunity to interact through social networks.

In a somewhat surprising turn, the survey revealed that older demographics are also demanding advanced shopping capabilities. While consumers over age 55 are less likely to leverage social media or use their mobile devices for commerce activities, ATG’s study shows they have come to rely on more advanced on-site shopping tools like live help and recommendations.

The use of mobile devices in shopping continues to rise significantly in the 18-to-34 year old demographic, with approximately 41% of respondents saying they use mobile devices to browse or research products or services, up from 23% reported in another ATG consumer research study released earlier this year. This finding indicates that mobile commerce is growing extremely rapidly over the course of weeks and months, not years, and that customers are quickly coming to expect a mobile commerce experience as consistent and satisfying as what they find on the web.

“This research shows a rapid pace of technology adoption and complex consumer behaviors now driving and shaping the future of cross-channel commerce,” said Nina McIntyre, ATG’s senior vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer. “This survey reveals significant opportunities for those merchants willing to understand the role that every channel plays in targeted customer experiences. It’s critical that merchants have the right commerce solutions to choreograph personalised interactions, satisfying the needs of unique customer segments.”

Additional highlights of the consumer benchmark survey:

  • 47% of women shoppers cited emails from merchants as helping them to discover products, compared to 37% of men. In addition, 47% of those 55 and older said they discover products via emails from merchants, compared to 41% of those 18-34, and 39% of those 35-54. Across all age groups, search engines were the most common method to discover new online products.
  • 50% of consumers aged 18-34 are using Facebook to “like” merchants, interact with other consumers and friends about products, post images and reviews, seek customer service, look for coupons, and post messages to a merchant’s fan page. By comparison, 28% of those 35 and older are using Facebook for these shopping-related activities.
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Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.