40% of Consumers Struggle to Differentiate Between Brands When Shopping Online

New research from eCommerce search and discovery specialist EmpathyBroker has revealed that, while online sales continue to grow, people still find the digital shopping experience lacking with four-in-ten consumers saying they’re unable to differentiate between one online brand and another.

According to the survey of over 1,500 UK consumers, many believe retailers struggle to build an authentic digital brand identity with 46% of respondents saying retailers still have more of a brand personality in-store than online. What’s more, 48% of consumers felt that online shopping experiences are often more impersonal than when they shop in-store.

The Founder of EmpathyBroker, Angel Maldonado, said,“For online retailers, the pressure is on. Differentiating in the sea of brand websites and marketplaces is more difficult than ever, which is why it’s perhaps unsurprising that 23% of the shoppers surveyed said they didn’t have a favourite brand to shop with online.

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“Creating a connection with a consumer relies on more than just grabbing their attention with product discounts or special offers. It’s about making each person feel like they’re getting a unique, tailored and joyful shopping experience. Brands that make consumers feel special, that really understand and get their customers are able to create an effortless and memorable online experience that leaves shoppers fulfilled, happy and loyal.”

What’s more, as retailers enter the busiest season of the year with Black Friday and Christmas around the corner, it’s never been more important to get this right. In fact, 65% of UK consumers  said they were more likely to shop online at Christmas than any other period, 40% during the summer sales and 39% while hunting for bargains on Black Friday. Mother’s Day (23%) and Valentine’s Day (18%) were also special dates that demonstrated a higher volume of people turning online.

The ease of finding the products they were looking for (55%) was cited at the most important aspect of an online experience with good product images (52%) and a nicely designed and displayed website (34%) coming in second and third respectively. Conversely, innovation came in last with only 5% of consumers valuing it.

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The survey also revealed that people like to visit a retail website on average two to three times before making a purchase, demonstrating that brands need to re-think conversion as a traditional metric for what makes a successful interaction online and instead focus on what makes a good digital experience, and thereby ensure that visitors return.

“Making online interactions more individual is a big part of creating great online digital experiences,” added Maldonado. “Yet a third (33%) of the consumers we surveyed didn’t think that brands were getting this right. That’s why we recently launched EmpathyContext, our latest technology innovation that enables retailers to provide search results that are aligned to individual visitors by uniquely understanding a user’s context and intent, without compromising on privacy.

“Worryingly, 40% of the consumers surveyed believed personalisation practices to be too ‘big brother-like’. That’s why always being open and transparent is so important. It not only builds trusts but empowers consumers with a sense of control and confidence.”

When looking at the use of consumer data and the impact of the GDPR, as we approach the six month mark since the regulation came into effect, the research also found that only a third of online shoppers (33%) trust brands with their personal data, while 40% don’t believe that the introduction of the GDPR has made retailers any more transparent with how they’re using personal data. It’s therefore not surprising that 59% of online consumers say they would be more likely to shop with a brand that is open and transparent about the way in which it uses data.

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