PL Buyer: Opportunities Online
By Jill Rivkin
Online market research firm InsightExpress recently conducted an exclusive research study for PL Buyer inquiring about consumer attitudes about retailers’ web sites: Do consumers shop online? What do they buy online? Would they use a retailer’s web site to gather information? We asked them these questions and a host of others, with all answers pointing to tremendous opportunities online for retailers.
Survey respondents said they shop online for a host of products, yet only 15.3 percent said they buy groceries online.
Almost 35 percent said they visit their local grocery store’s site at least once a month while 52.4 percent visit their local drugstore’s site at least once a month. While they do buy things online, most are not looking to replace trips to stores; they’re looking for information to make trips easier.
“They’re using web sites to gather information,” said Dan Raftery, president of Raftery Resource Network Inc. “They say that the make-life-easy-for-me opportunities are not being tapped as much as they could by retailers.”
Make-life-easy-for-me opportunities often are simple features a retailer can incorporate into a web site. Respondents said they would read a circular online, 56.3 percent, and search for recipes, 44.1 percent. The common element is making shopping smoother and simpler, in advance of entering the store.
Mike Spindler, chief executive officer of Gladson Interactive, and part owner of MyWebGrocer.com, said, “The majority of consumers use the web to make the chore easier, more convenient for them… The only service you should provide to a customer is to help them buy groceries…”
Not surprisingly, the majority said web sites are, or would be, a valuable asset to save money. Nearly 63 percent look for coupons while 72 percent said they would use grocers’ sites more often if coupons were offered.
For drugstores, 54.4 percent said they would use sites to look up pricing; 56.8 percent would use the site more if there were coupons; and 26.6 percent would use the site to compare store brand items to national brands.
Almost 23 percent said they would go to a site to find out about new store brands, compared with the 16.2 percent who would look up information on new national brands items.
Opportunities to save time and money far surpass any other consumer expectations of what they want on a retailer’s site. While the survey shows they would like coupons and recipes – both likely to save money and time – consumers don’t appear to have much faith in the grocery store as a resource for more information.
Only 2.8 percent said they would ask an expert about wine and only 3.2 percent would ask about menu planning. When asked what they would like to see on their grocer’s site, 31.7 percent said they would like an ask-the-expert option.
Consumers have more faith in drugstore sites. Thirty-four percent said they would go to a local drugstore’s site to ask a pharmacist a question. Another 30.6 percent would use the site more often if they had the opportunity to ask a question. Almost 30 percent said they would look for information on self-diagnosis.
Discussion Questions: How can supermarkets and drugstores make better use of their web sites? Speaking to the study’s findings, how should supermarkets
address consumers’ apparent lack of confidence in grocers as an information resource? How do drugstores build on the confidence that consumers have expressed in advice they receive