We live in an age of instantaneous information, connection and satisfaction. We get what we want, when we want it. As consumers, it has always been important to be informed when it comes to our purchases. We want to know what we are buying, what benefits the item or service might have, any disadvantages that the item may have and what performance we can expect from the thing we are spending our hard earned money on. Whether it is a silk camisole or a washing machine, we like to be savvy shoppers. But does our increased availability of information and our knowledge of products threaten retailers?
Recently, Google partnered with Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands to see what impact technology has on consumption and shopping habits. Included in this study was the question of whether or not consumer research is damaging to retailers. The common belief among brick and mortar retailers is that the primary reason we go into stores is simply to conduct a transaction. Retailers assume that we have already completed our research and as such, that we are fully informed about their product. They assume we are there only to pay for our items. However, the research suggests that the retailers who believe all we want is a sales transaction are doing damage to themselves.
The data gathered by Google, Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands, suggests that as consumers, we expect more than ever from our retailers. We still visit stores, and online shops, to compare and to stimulate interest in items. The research suggests that while we are more informed than ever, we still look to retailers to be an authority on their products and to provide use with a shopping experience. Google, Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands found that just because we perform searches and gather information does not mean that we are turning our backs on retailers. We simply want more out of them. We visit our favorite stores not only because we like the merchandise that is sold there, but also because we enjoy and savor the shopping experience in these stores.
Retailers would do well to take heed of this information. The majority of us visit stores to get an idea of what we want to buy prior to conducting research. Once we have seen the item, then we go into detective mode and try to learn as much as possible about what we intend to buy. Our research doesn’t necessarily hurt retailers, though it does affect what we want from them. Because we can pull together so much information on a product, we expect our retailers to be able to still tell us more. Why buy something when the retailer seems less knowledgeable about the product than we are? We expect retailers to be experts in their products and services. We also anticipate that retailers will provide us with a personalized shopping experience.
Being an informed consumer is important, and some of the burden certainly does rest on us. However, retailers also need to remember that customers want more than just information and details on products. We want to feel valued and important. When it comes to shopping we want more than product specifications, we want to have an enitre experience when it comes to shopping.