A recent report has revealed that customers view service as the most important factor when purchasing items online.
The survey of 3000 Australian consumers released by comparison shopping resource website GetPrice claims that customers are motivated less by price, and more by customer service, brand reputation, delivery costs, and independent online reviews.
“Price gets people in the door, online or offline, but when customers make that final decision, they're basing it on softer things like customer service,” says GetPrice marketing director David Whiteman. “Trust and reputation are very important components; not only the brand and product, but who you're buying it from.”
The findings come on the heels of last year's campaign by Australia's traditional retailers to impose GST on online purchases. Although Whiteman is yet to hear feedback from those campaigners, he believes that the GST component of 10% makes little difference when a customer clicks the “buy it now” button.
“The argument was all about the GST and the inability to compete, but I think that's all a bit of a smokescreen,” Whiteman says. “People buy overseas because they feel that can't get what they're looking for locally. A lot of local retailers don't have a full product offering online and haven't really stepped up in that way. As an example, Harvey Norman has no e-commerce capabilities. Some of the larger Australian retailers haven't got the basics right yet.”
Whiteman believes the survey's findings offer a real opportunity for SMEs to step up their online efforts. Small businesses prepared to offer a genuine alternative are capable of dominating a niche market.
“In areas under-serviced by the bigger guys, small business has more focus and interaction,” Whiteman says. “Nearly a quarter of people on social media are following products and brands on Facebook and Twitter, and customers are very active on mobile phones. Be creative. A small business can create a really interesting app for very little money.”