Shoppers today no longer simply go to the nearest store; they grab the nearest digital device. The online retail ecosystem is fast evolving—particularly for consumables.
But while online shopping offers significant advantages to consumers wanting to purchase consumables, it also faces its fair share of challenges.
The inability to inspect goods poses one of the biggest barriers for consumable categories. Nearly seven-in-10 respondents in Nielsen’s Global Connected Commerce Survey (69%) agree or strongly agree that they prefer to examine products personally.
The desire to inspect goods is undoubtedly tied to uncertainty about product quality and freshness. More than six-in-10 respondents in the survey say concerns about product freshness (64%) and overall quality (62%) are barriers to online shopping.
“The five senses are hard to replicate in a virtual environment. This is especially important when it comes to fruits and vegetables, as consumers like to see, feel and smell the produce, or for meat, fish and poultry, where shoppers want to investigate the best cut in person,” said Patrick Dodd, president, Nielsen global retailer vertical. “As such, transparency and shopper education is necessary to show the origins of and transportation methods for seasonal produce and locally-grown/raised products. And perhaps nothing is more important than word-of-mouth testimonials from satisfied customers, whether in person or online via reviews and social media.”
Other ways to address freshness concerns include providing minimum expiration-date guarantees and special offers or promotions on products with shorter expiration or sell-by dates. Looking beyond fresh categories, retailers could address doubts about product quality by encouraging product trials. Savvy retailers are including free shipping for first-time users, double points for loyalty program members or online/mobile-exclusive offers. The latter two options may be particularly useful for physical retailers trying to grow their online business. Regardless of the incentive used, keep in mind that unsatisfied customers are not likely to return. Matching or exceeding shopper expectations is a sure way to win repeat business.
A fair, satisfaction-guaranteed returns policy is another important way retailers can address quality concerns. More than half of respondents in the survey (57%) say they’re concerned the groceries they receive will not accurately match what they ordered.
“Goods that don’t meet expectations can be game-changing for customers, reducing the likelihood of a repeat purchase from the retailer,” said Dodd. “Retailers can turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one by inspiring trust with a flexible, hassle-free return policy, fast product replacement service and well-trained staff to help with substitution selection.”
Find out more about drivers and barriers for online shopping success in Nielsen’s Global Connected Commerce Report.