February 6, 2017 | 2 Comments Digital consumer behavior is a relatively new, but vital aspect of your Marketing plan. Understanding how your target shopper ticks is imperative when building your digital brand, and growing online sales. Typically, consumer behavior studies have been employed by retailers to understand the different types of buyers, and to increase impulse shopping. So, how does this strategy translate digitally? More and more, people are relying on digital references to make shopping decisions; unfortunately, many business owners are failing to appreciate the impact of Digital Marketing. To help your small business better understand the importance of Digital Marketing, we need to look at a few reasons why consumers prefer shopping online, and how they are using the Internet to influence their purchase decisions. Most importantly, how can YOUR brand influence shoppers via the Internet? ~Comforts of Home: Safely behind their keyboard, people feel they can search any product, service, or information without being judged. It takes away any potential awkwardness or embarrassment, and eliminates the need to deal with a salesperson. There is a significant percentage of the population who don’t feel comfortable in public, or among peers in general; introverted people tend to spend a lot of time on the Internet for a sense of community and social acceptance. More than likely, these people are very tech savvy, and are more inclined to go online for entertainment, rather than watching TV. As a result, they are finding out about new products and services on the Internet, rather than through more traditional television or print advertising. Moreover, online shopping will allow a shopper to make a purchase decision, pay for the product and get it delivered to their door, all without having to speak with a person! But there is a lot of competition online, and consumers are impatient. Make it as easy as possible; have all the information available to make their decision, and complete the purchase. If the online shopper can’t find what he or she is looking for, they will move on to the next site. You have lost them; not only for this sale, but probably for any future business. ~Simplicity, Availability, Choices: An item or service may not be readily available in a local store, but it will always be available on the Internet. A consumer can have it delivered to their door, or shipped directly to a nearby store for pickup. Even if a product is available in the store, is it actually the one you want, or are you settling because there are no other choices? By using the Internet to search and shop, a consumer may simply order and move on, or take more time and assess their options. Shopping is no longer limited to store hours – order at all times of the night, if you like. What if you are seeking a specialty item that is rare, or no longer manufactured? You aren’t the only one… others with the same rare needs or interests will also seek out these products and services. A shopper may be looking for a replacement piece to something that is considered an ancient product – I recently had to do that for my dishwasher. This creates a need for targeted niche marketing to direct these consumers to your website. Often, these markets are bigger than you would imagine. Need an example? Collectors. There are many out there, with countless areas of interest. Looking for a set of hubcaps for a ‘63 Corvair? Yup, you can get that. ~Education and the Power of the Review: Doing research on a product and making comparisons allows a consumer to make an educated purchasing decision. We have the right to be informed, to search for the features we desire, no matter how exacting. Everyone has felt dissatisfied with a purchase…many times, in fact. Online communities and forums allow consumers – both pleased and dissatisfied – to share their thoughts and experiences with a product or service. Provide a review. These peer assessments speak at a higher volume to a potential customer than what a company’s ad has to say about their own brand or product. Today’s consumers take this advice very seriously; it has a profound effect on the overall sales of the product or service in question. Seems harsh, but really, this is doing the brand a favor. It ultimately promotes improvement and, often, safety. Ethically, companies should be held accountable and want to take social responsibility for their products and services; online reviews can help to do just that. Additionally, people don’t always feel they are receiving the whole truth from a salesperson at the store. Yes, they can be extremely helpful and there are many great ones, but they may not always have the most comprehensive information regarding the product – they just need to make the sale. This list is only the beginning. New consumer needs and new digital solutions are surfacing all the time. The mind of a consumer is evolving as much as the digital world, and it is so important that your business does not miss out on this vital market. It is never too soon – or too late – to begin a digital strategy.