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By now it’s clear that the internet has revolutionized the shopping experience for both consumers and marketers. But shopping behavior didn’t simply settle into a new pattern with the introduction of high-speed connections and slick e-commerce sites. In fact, with the prevalence of smartphones and spread of WiFi, consumers are always shopping.

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Consider this: 84% of Americans are shopping for something at any given time and in up to six different categories.1 And in nearly one quarter of shopping occasions, shoppers say they turn to their smartphone first.2

They need help

Shopping across so many categories can be overwhelming for people. In other words, they’re going to need as much help as possible, providing brands an opportunity to get into the consideration set early on.

Consider finding ways to help overwhelmed shoppers keep track of items they’ve researched.

Marketers should always make the research process as easy as possible throughout the entire shopping experience. That means being present — and useful — along the way. Consider finding ways to help overwhelmed shoppers keep track of items they’ve researched. Half of shoppers keep some sort of digital list, whether via smartphone, laptop, app, or digital assistant.3

Creating prepopulated lists is also a good way for marketers to go, because shoppers are increasingly seeking them out.

  • Mobile searches for shopping lists have grown by over 150% in the past two years. For example, “back to school shopping list,” “high school shopping list,” “new puppy shopping list,” “newborn shopping list,” “apartment shopping list,” “whole 30 shopping list,” and “BBQ shopping list.”4
  • Mobile searches for “what to get” grew by over 50% in the last two years. For example, “what to get for back to school,” “what to get for high school,” “what to get a 10 year old for her birthday,” and “what to get for a new puppy.”5

They’re brand agnostic

One of the other key challenges (and opportunities) is that most people don’t have a strong brand preference during the early stages of shopping.

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One of the most eye-grabbing data points is that nearly 9 out of 10 shoppers are not absolutely certain of the brand they want to buy when they begin looking for information online via their smartphones.6

And there’s a growing trend of shoppers starting with a blank brand slate. Literally. Mobile searches for “____ brands” have risen over the past two years. Some examples:   

  • “sock brands” +150% 
  • “men’s watch brands” +70% 
  • “best purse brands” +140% 
  • “makeup brands” +150%7

Retailers and brands should focus on helping shoppers get the information they need to make decisions and enable them to purchase where and when they want to, whether that’s making it easy to buy online or letting them know that physical locations have the item in stock.

They’re quick to bail

We’ve written before about the importance of fast-loading sites and apps. But speed isn’t the only factor that causes shoppers to bail. Relevant, easy-to-find information is crucial to keeping them. In fact, more than half of smartphone users have purchased from a company other than the one they’d originally intended to use because the information provided by another brand was more useful.8

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Or putting it in a more positive light, 80% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps help them easily find answers to their questions.9

What can you do to make the digital shopping experience easier? We mentioned lists above. But you should also consider simple things like letting them pick up where they left off and ensuring the check-out process is fast and efficient. Forty-three percent of U.S. shoppers expect to be able to pick up where they left off when they return to a retailer site.10 And 61% expect their shopping and billing information to be remembered and filled in automatically when they return to a retailer site they’ve shopped with before.11

If people are turning to their smartphones at the very top of the funnel, anything retailers and brands can do to help them keep better track of items they may want to purchase later will be positively received by shoppers. And you just might be able to guide them all the way through the customer journey to conversion.