Online consumer electronics buying behavior: Pre & post-pandemic

online consumer electronics buying behavior

Digital shoppers are growing extremely interconnected with access to vast amounts of information, unprecedented choice, and complex purchase journeys. They may not understand the nitty-gritty of every product feature, but they will continue researching until they are confident, they’ve found the right product. 

Understanding the underlying online consumer electronics buying behavior triggering these choices, and how they align with different market scenarios is crucial for any company. Monitoring and measuring such developments to uncover strategic insights and act on them is what separates industry trailblazers from the rest.

To help OEMs and retailers gain a comprehensive picture of these shifts in a rapidly advancing consumer electronics market, we examine how much has changed in the pre and post-pandemic period:

Channels of discovery: Omnichannel is growing stronger

Then:

With digital channels gaining momentum, the consumer journey has, over time, become distinctly non-linear. According to Google, 72% of shoppers visited a store to check out a product with plans to purchase online. The reverse is also true. In another survey 77% of consumer electronics (CE) shoppers did most of their groundwork at home and then visited stores to reconfirm product information, specs, and price via their smartphones. Switching between channels allowed them to ensure they were getting the best deal and look for alternatives brands/models to suit their needs and budget.

Now:

While the initial stages of the pandemic stalled or postponed most big-ticket purchases, once the pent-up demand kicked in, detailed product pages proved to be a strong conversion enabler. High-definition product shots, unboxing videos, customer-centric content, and interactive technologies, all stacked up to provide an immersive and seamless buying experience.

The takeaway:

Accessibility across various touchpoints has become imperative to cater to the omnichannel customer. Exceptional discovery-to-purchase experiences during the pandemic are likely to inspire more confident digital purchases in the post-COVID-19 world.

Aspects that shape decisions

Then:

Reliable information:
CE shoppers want to know everything about a product before making a choice. However, the rapid pace at which updates and upgrades occur in certain categories can be overwhelming, making comparison sites instrumental. Yet, prevalent online consumer electronics buying behavior reflected that the average tech shopper uses more than 14 sources of information to arrive at their decision. Younger shoppers use over 21 sources.  

Brand perception:
Quality, innovation, and performance are a few key aspects that create a permanent mark in consumers’ minds. Online reviews, user-generated content on social media, review blogs, and in-store activations altogether have been influencing purchases for a while now. Among social media users who spend more than 13.5 hours a week, 65% of them check social channels before buying a consumer electronic product. Aspects like low-energy consumption, eco-friendliness, and ease of servicing go a long way in imbibing a solid brand image and dictate loyalty.

Purchase drivers_online consumer electronics buying behavior

Competitive pricing:
The amount of time spent on researching a particular category depends on the product price. It is also cited as the top reason undecided tech shoppers stop considering a brand. Apart from checking out multiple competing stores both online and offline, shoppers tend to stall major purchases for mega-sales days hoping to bag the best deal. In 2018, nearly 50% of Q4 consumer electronics searches happened before Thanksgiving. Plus, incentives like free shipping and installation or accessory bundling are also viewed as effective conversion influencers. For basic home appliances, most shoppers may have steered clear of wasting time or money on a product or brand they were unsure about, making brand loyalty a pragmatic choice. Yet, factors that did induce a switch were competitive pricing and value for money.

Purchase drivers_electronics buying

Reviews:
Most people read five or more reviews before buying an electronic product. It has been observed that if two product listings appear on an Amazon search engine results page, the one with more reviews will convert better and outdo its rival 58% of the time. Coming from real-world product users, they act as a ready reference for prospects eager to validate a product across various parameters and prove to be far more effective than most marketing activities. In short, these are unpaid advocates for your brand, and if done well can positively impact your bottom line.

Now:

While information sources have largely stayed the same, to make up for the ‘touch-and-feel’ aspect, shoppers seek more engaging experiences. They want objective information, fact-based recommendations, and trustworthy user experiences. As for the advice they would typically seek from their social circles, they turning to review communities, social media and online tech influencers more than ever. In China, brands like Canon, HP, Kindle, and Oppo are already leveraging influencer marketing to build up authentic user-generated content.

As digital turns into the new shopping normal, consumers expect brands to pre-empt their needs and drive more targeted, contextual shopping experiences. Amid the economic crunch, performance and longevity tend to be prioritized over aesthetics, especially in large investment products. Moreover, given the crisis, customers expect brands to be more empathetic and value-driven rather than margin-led in their sales models.

In return for high-quality products at reasonable prices brands will see shoppers more open to enduring relationships and repeat purchases. Besides, aspects like exchange offers, extended warranty, discounts, and cashback are proving to be lucrative purchase triggers in a recession-hit economy. Mega-discount days still resonate in the post-COVID world. Despite cybersecurity concerns, roughly one-third of Gen Z shoppers said they would buy electronics online this holiday season. Four in ten American shoppers planned to shop online more this season than they did the previous year – gaming and consumer electronics being a few key categories. And so it turned out.

Search-2020-electronics-buying-behavior

The takeaway:

Accurate and simplified product content that proactively addresses common consumer pain points like installation, do’s and don’t’s and other product or aftersales service related queries, will be vital in driving conversions. With e-commerce accelerated 3x times into the future, OEMs and retailers will need real-time pricing analytics to maximize market share. Also as more shoppers turn to UGC (user-generated content), monitoring them for a positive brand perception will be imperative. Shoppers also expect e-commerce websites to have the required security measures in place even as they cater to high traffic volumes.

Aftersales service: Inspiring loyalty

Then:

Often considered as the last leg of the journey, this stage is incredibly instrumental in spurring repeat purchases. Whether it’s requesting a return, claiming a warranty, or seeking annual maintenance support, the aftersales experience typically carves out a distinct memory in the minds of consumers. Seamless aftersales support round the clock via live chats, chat bots, or toll-free numbers have been the standard expectation from brands.

Now:

As social distancing limits servicing personnel visits for demos and installations, shoppers are now gaining assistance to do it themselves via WhatsApp video calls. From troubleshooting their work from home equipment to understanding why a particular function on their newly-bought bread maker won’t work, customers seek and expect to be catered to via channels they prefer. The trending online consumer electronics buying behavior observed is that of more shoppers signing up for extended warranties and device protection plans in order to save themselves from future hassles of seeking maintenance and repair help locally.

Warranty-brands_consumer-electronics

The takeaway:

Through stellar aftersales experiences not only can OEMs can reclaim the customer relationship but also gain valuable insights on customer satisfaction on various fronts. As shoppers clearly don’t mind spending a few extra dollars to gain peace of mind, brands can reevaluate their product warranty bundling to instill loyalty. A robust rewards program would further incentivize subscriptions and bolster long-term retention.

With people shopping online now more than ever, it would be unfair not to mine these deep wells of data created to inform an OEM’s or a retailer’s way forward. Staying on the ball with online consumer electronics buying behavior and trend lines will give you the momentum you need to stay nimble now and beyond. Speak to us to know how we can help you get a firmer hold of the future through holistic consumer insights and e-commerce solutions.

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