5 Reasons People Buy Online

Ensure your site will welcome the cyber masses.

by Dennis L. Prince
- Jan 12, 2015

Think back to the mid-1990s. Remember when we began to explore the astounding World Wide Web? It was like having the world's best libraries, overflowing with so much information, all in one place, all at our fingertips.

It was great—and then someone got the idea that it could serve the same purpose in the realm of shopping.

Keep your process simple and you'll add to the simplicity shoppers want online

Almost everything we ever wanted was available to us without having to step outside our homes. But it was a little scary, wasn't it? Dealing with faceless strangers, selecting items we couldn't touch and sending money to who-knows-where.

That's all changed. Online shopping is no longer a novelty or an occasional alternative. It's the world's way of doing most business. And perhaps you're wondering if you're fully engaged in this culture where the world turns to their keypads for their shopping rather than turning the key in their cars' ignitions.

If so, consider why more people turn to the online realm to do their business, then determine if you've positioned your business to best cater to them.

Their reasons, your responses

Granted, there are many reasons people shop online, but this is a boiled down list of the top five motivations for online shopping.

Reason No. 1: Simplicity. This is the core cause for folks to have embraced the Internet, the ease by which they can look for and learn about products they might want or need. On a whim and in a moment, shoppers can search for and locate items without the need to take to the roadways, navigate traffic, and hope that a brick-and-mortar store has the goods. In the course of just a few clicks or taps, shoppers can determine if what they seek is available, from where and at what price. It doesn't get much easier than that.

Speed is a benefit derived when shopping online: speed in locating goods and speed in doing comparison shopping

Your response: Keep your online offering strategy simple: good images, straightforward descriptions, fast-and-easy checkout, and effective customer support. Keep your process simple and you'll add to the simplicity shoppers want online.

Reason No. 2: Selection. So just as it's remarkably easy to begin a shopping inquiry online, it's also as easy to compare products, prices and delivery terms in a matter of just minutes.

Shoppers avoid the "Well, I'm here so I should probably buy it before I leave" resignation. Instead, they can find what they're looking for then immediately continue to search for the same items offered by different retailers. Comparison of price, availability and delivery terms can be achieved in short order, enabling the shopper to feel they've truly made the best purchase possible.

Your response: Offer as many alternatives as possible in your inventory (dependent upon the sort of product you offer). If you serve a niche market, offer "selection" in regards to purchase terms, delivery and after-sale support.

Reason No. 3: Speed. By now you can see from the previous two points that speed is a benefit derived when shopping online: speed in locating goods and speed in doing comparison shopping. And while much of this sort of shopping is impulse driven, cautious shoppers are able to pause momentarily to truly consider their purchase before they "proceed to checkout."

That sort of consideration (or "cooling off" period) now takes only minutes or, for the truly cautious, maybe just an hour. But when the decision has been made, the purchase can be quick and easy, often with the retailer jumping into action to fulfill an order just as quickly.

Your response: Again, make your selection and checkout process fast and easy. Remind customers of items still in their cart if they haven't yet completed their purchase. And use post-sale communication to ask customers how they liked their shopping experience.

Reason No. 4: Savings. Certainly you stand to save some of your hard-earned money when you shop online to find the best possible prices and terms in your purchases. You'll also save in the cost of making treks into town, paying for fuel, parking, food (if you forgot to eat before you set out) and any other unplanned incidental spending. And, if you're a busy person (maybe running your own business), you can get your shopping done online without having to interrupt your own work for more than a few minutes.

If you offer the lowest price around, shout it out loud. If you don't, trumpet the other benefits that come from shopping at your site

Your response: If you offer the lowest price around, shout it out loud. If you don't, trumpet the other benefits that come from shopping at your site and how those benefits can equal a net savings and/or satisfaction in the end.

Reason No. 5: Safety & Security. Now, it might seem there are still concerns over making secure purchases in the online realm, but if you think about where we started and where we've come, online shopping is quite secure (though still not completely infallible).

Compare that with the risks each time you swipe your credit or debit card in a store's card reader and the incidents of consumers' information being lifted and misused following purchases at major retailers, gas stations, free-standing kiosks and so on. You just might be a bit safer shopping online these days and, if you would argue that suggestion, you might agree that you're as safe shopping online as you are a point-of-sale settings.

Your response: Simply enough, ensure your checkout procedure is secure (usually made so by your solution vendor or payment processor). Accept the most secure payment methods to further protect your customers—this includes the major credit cards as well as leading payment portals.

Online shopping has come a long way since the 1990s, both in its capabilities and in the public's acceptance and adoption of it. The good news is that shoppers are more than eager to shop at your site. Consider the reasons presented here, then make sure your site is ready to welcome the cyber masses.

About the Author

Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay…and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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