Brits have become a nation of ‘window browsers and online shoppers’ who are easily distracted online, potentially leading to lost sales, according to new research.
The research of 2,069 UK consumers online, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Melbourne IT DBS, revealed 60% of Britons shop online at least once a month and 77% of respondents research products on the high street before going online to find a better deal.
However, when trying to find the official site of a product or service they had seen or heard advertised, more than half (52%) of consumers admitted to ending up on a completely different website to the one they had intended to visit after using a search engine.
Only 25% of respondents said they navigated directly to a company website by remembering an advertised web address. Instead, when consumers go online to make their purchases, 60% use search engines such as Google to try to find the products they have either seen or heard advertised.
“Big consumer brands spend millions on advertising, sponsorships and their in-store retail presence. But with consumers using the web to actually make their purchase, and the high chance of those consumers getting sidetracked in doing so, that offline investment loses its value,” Melbourne IT DBS’ European Sales Director, Stuart Durham, said.
“Trying to achieve a high search result position to capture these consumers as they go online is not enough by itself. As we’ve seen in the results, the risk of consumers being sidetracked to another site – possibly that of a competitor or even a counterfeiter –is high.
“If brands can strengthen the direct link between their offline marketing spend and their online stores to increase the number of consumers going straight to their sites, it could make a big difference to revenue. Simple, memorable, branded internet domain names that allow consumers to bypass the search engines and go direct to the site would deliver that benefit.”
Jonathan Freeman, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Goldsmiths University of London, has been studying online consumer behaviour for more than a decade. He said: “The current domain name system is not as simple as it could be. Brand based domain names provide a much more direct index and, as a result, they should be much easier for consumers to remember. I imagine the concept should be very attractive to brand owners who want consumers to use their web address. Using the new approach will make direct access to websites feel as intuitive and natural as typing the company or product name into a search engine, but with the benefit that consumers will know exactly where they will get to.”
Consumers had concerns around trust when shopping online. Fifty-one per cent of consumers online felt it was difficult to differentiate between websites selling genuine goods and those who sold fake or counterfeit items, and an overwhelming 83% agreed that online brands should take greater action to help consumers tell the difference between websites selling genuine goods from those sites selling counterfeit goods.
“The rise of counterfeit goods online has the potential to erode trust in the online shopping experience and it’s clear from the results that consumers are looking to brands to make every possible effort to show that their sites and those of their retail partners can be trusted,” Mr Durham said.
The survey also found that browsing the web on the move is increasing, with 50% of respondents saying they use mobile devices to browse the web, and 63% of mobile web users saying they are browsing the internet on their mobile device more than they did a year ago.
Despite this, mobile web users pointed out that the mobile internet experience remains far from perfect, with slow loading times (65%), sites not displaying correctly (49%), limited content mobile sites (40%) and typing in long website addresses (33%) heading the list of frustrations.
“It’s no great surprise that mobile web browsing is on the rise, but the fact that only 8% of mobile web users said they had no real frustrations with browsing the internet on the move shows there’s still a lot of improvements to the experience which can be made, most of which are within the control of brands to fix,” Mr Durham said.
With big brands soon being able to apply for their own product or company names as a ‘.brand’ domain name (ie. cameras.canon instead of www.canon.co.uk/cameras), Mr Durham said companies would soon have an opportunity to help address several of the online consumer concerns.
“Securing a ‘.brand’ domain name will deliver brand owners a trustworthy digital anchor for their brand. A .brand has the potential to create significant benefits for marketers, including memorable domains for increased direct navigation by consumers, shorter domains for mobile web users, and an indisputable mark of trust for those consumers looking for reassurance they are buying authentic goods online,” he said.
”Given the huge investment companies make in promoting their brands, an opportunity to improve the effectiveness of those marketing campaigns in driving shoppers online – even by only a few percentage points – would be an attractive proposition for marketers looking to boost sales.”
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,069 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th – 7th September 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
To download a copy of the research findings, click here.