A quick look at what is going on today with online shopping shows that it is all about ” we commerce ” that is a key driver of eCommerce.
As consumers, we want reviews from other consumers and peers to help steer us in the right direction. We value feedback, recommendations and warnings from people like ourselves. And, increasingly, we are turning to them as a big part of influencing our purchase decisions – both online and offline. As Cartman says, “Respect my authorataay!” (translation for marketers = value the voice of the customer as it is authoritative and valuable).
So, should we be shocked or surprised at this online chatter having so much influence, sway and say in what we end up buying or not buying? No, not at all.
This simply mimics offline behaviour as it has existed since consumers started deciding on what to consume. So, it stands to reason that with a more social web this type of activity was bound to take hold. And, it has. Services like Bazaar Voice have even created an industry around it.
It also makes sense that, as studies have shown, when reviews are from people that we don’t know personally – random folks we find online – there is strength in numbers. Close to 50% of those who shop online need a minimum of 4-7 reviews to help them decide (see eMarketer Chart below). So, although we are skeptical of unknown individual comments online, there is a “wisdom of the crowds” at play here.
I experienced a different scenario recently when I was in a retail location and overheard a conversation between a customer and salesperson. The customer, having done online research by reading reviews and specs online before visiting the bricks and mortar location to purchase, was much more knowledgeable and informed than the sales person in the neat and tidy company uniform. So, I did what any smart person would do. Instead of waiting for the sales person to help me, I began talking with the other customer who was able to help me out. That was a great example of “We Commerce” as the purchase was not a minor item.
It left me without a doubt that whether it is offline to online, online to offline or any other combination of consumer conversations, they work because they provide help at it most basic and human level. There is really nothing new here except for how we use new media channels to gather relevant information in our decsion making process – but the source is the same. It’s us.
In this light it is not hard to see that the web is more about sociology than technology. So, the implication for marketers and brands is that it really boils down to the fact that consumers have jobs and tasks they face. They want and/or need something and want to accomplish what they set out to do with confidence.
Social web elements are a huge aid with such jobs and tasks. It works to the advantage of brands that get it and thus accommodate. Those who discount this new sphere of influence will find out the hard way that consumers are just a simple search and click away from getting it elsewhere.
And, as mobile enters into the equation and becomes more prevalent, more of us will bring the mobile web with us into the bricks and mortar environment. That altogether another game changing world to wrap our heads around.