The independent judgement of the client, being the decisive factor for granting awards for webshops: this is what makes the Safeshops Awards unique in its kind. In order to analyse the voice of the consumer, organizer Safeshops.be asked WHY5Research to gather the motivations and satisfactions of the Belgian online shoppers. The market research is intended to be a frame of reference of what the Belgian shopper appreciates in his/her online shopping behavior and should ultimately lead to the selection of the winning web stores.
Firstly it was key to understand the needs of the online shopper. In order to map these needs as open as possible, WHY5Research proposed to start off with a qualitative research phase. In focus group sessions researchers and consumers explored the ‘why’ of shopping, positive and negative experiences, the different expectations in view of specific product categories (e.g. travelling, fashion, electronics,…).
In a second phase WHY5Research set up a quantitative research where the relevance of the experience dimensions from the first phase could be quantified. Additionally, users of the appointed sites were asked for their level of satisfaction with the shop in question, which resulted in an independent benchmark for the selection of winners.
When online shopping, consumers walk on a tight rope between positive motivations and barriers. The comfort and smooth completion are all pro’s. But on the downside there are fundamental psychological barriers each web shop has to tackle, e.g. concerning the payment and the reliability of the website. Also, the lack of concrete product experience makes consumers hesitate. There is always a certain frustration because the product isn’t immediately available, unlike in a physical point of sales. Success is largely determined by the extent the webshop can help overcome these barriers.
Belgian webshops seem to be doing a good job, but still have a lot of unfulfilled potential according to the survey. While at least 73% of Belgians visits (minimum) one webshop weekly, this only ends up in an online purchase in 20% of cases. And Belgians want more… Almost 4 out of 10 expects to buy more online next year. Finally it is also striking that online purchases mostly occur in the more traditional areas of online shopping, such as concert/movie tickets, travelling, fashion and books. There is much less online purchasing in categories such as furniture, drugs and financial products, etc. thus underlining the potential for growth.
Ideally a webshop has clear and sharp pricing, as well as the comfort of fast and flexible delivery. These factors also play a role in the differentiation potential of a webshop. Consumers define the basic criteria for an online webshop with criteria such as transparency, speed, reliability, flexibility, competitive pricing and safe payment options. Together they make up the basic expectations, each webshop needs to meet in order to be considered as a (worthy) purchase channel. Other aspects such as inspiration, design, mobile friendliness, consumer service, customization and quality labels offer room for differentiation. In practice however, consumers notice that e-shops tend to focus on differentiating elements, while forgetting the basics.
The research set up by Safeshops.be and WHY5Research also detected five client segments which a webshop can target. Which segment to target is a strategic choice, which also depends on the market potential of the sector in which the shop is positioning itself. In any case, it remains paramount to keep these profiles in mind in order to maximize the potential with secondary segments as well.
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The study was conducted by WHY5Research, commissioned by Safeshops.be.
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