Jacksonville, Fla. (Nov. 17, 2022) — The evolution of the shopper journey and overall shopper expectations have accelerated at an incredible pace over the last couple of years. After a years-long pandemic forced the adoption of digital-first shopping, shoppers are now increasingly comfortable navigating the omnichannel world.
The intersection of heightened omnichannel expectations with inflationary pressures poses unique challenges – and opportunities – for the consumer electronics industry. While there is a resurgence in brick-and-mortar shopping, brands now fight limited shopping budgets.
Acosta’s latest research uncovers vital shopper insights for consumer electronics brands and retailers to keep in mind regarding their omnichannel strategies.
1. Stay focused on continuously changing shopper behaviors and preferences.
Shopping behaviors and expectations change from category to category and across channels, so pinpointing nuances of your brand, products and audience will help inform the most robust strategy possible.
Consumer electronics is more complex and involved than other categories, and consumer electronics shoppers have a unique need for authentic expertise, demo and trial opportunities, and accurate information sources along their omnichannel journey.
2. Deliver best-in-class in-store experiences.
In the past six months, 72% of consumer electronics buyers have made a consumer electronics purchase in-store, with top reasons cited as the ability to take the product home that day (49%), product demos (39%), and comparing items live (39%). For retailers and brands, there are clear steps to take to meet expectations.
Focus on meaningful interactions.
For those that prefer to shop in-store, purchase support from live experts deepens personalization. By answering shopper-specific questions about pricing tiers, product specs, warranties, and comparisons, customers can more quickly determine which products fit their lifestyle and budget.
Having brand experts and trained store associates to support buying decisions may also close conversion gaps. Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed said there were electronics they considered purchasing but ultimately decided not to buy in the last year. Television and personal computers have the most opportunity, with 24% and 20% considering but not purchasing, respectively.
Present engaging and clean in-store demo opportunities.
On average across categories, 49% say that demos are an important factor in their purchase decision, and they mostly prefer a demo where they can touch and test it themselves (66%). On the other hand, 40% say they value a demo given by a live product or brand expert. Giving shoppers the option for both can capture a larger share of potential customers by meeting different needs.
Additionally, though shoppers have gotten more comfortable being back in stores after the pandemic, many have continued concerns about public health. Ensuring a clean demo experience will increase the likelihood of engagement and improve brand perception.
Capitalize on the comparison.
In-store expertise plays a critical role when shoppers are comparing products. Live support reinforces the benefits of one brand or product over another. And signage combined with detailed, up-to-date displays can supplement your in-store experts, providing comparisons for those that may prefer to browse on their own.
Thirty-three percent of consumer electronics shoppers will also research products online while in the store. If digital content doesn’t clearly articulate value against competitors and isn’t consistent with what they see in the store, shoppers may decide to delay their purchase and do more research – potentially resulting in a lost customer.
By providing a variety of information sources and support for comparison wherever they are, you potentially increase the stickiness of a shopper within your brand’s product portfolio.
Increase distribution and merchandising support based on data.
Because of its longer purchase cycles, out-of-stocks (OOS) are particularly detrimental to the consumer electronics category. A lost sale is a lost customer – potentially even for years. One-third of shoppers encounter OOS and either opt to wait for what they want or check other retailers – both in-store and online. Gaming systems, digital home thermostats, and VR devices are cited as most often out of stock. To avoid lost sales, review sales data and refine your distribution and merchandising strategies, ensuring adequate stock levels at your high-sales volume stores.
3. Create valuable digital touchpoints.
According to our research, consumer electronics shoppers are typically prompted to purchase when it’s time to upgrade or replace an item beyond repair. This is true across every consumer electronics category we surveyed, the top being smartphones, televisions, and personal computers.
When they are ready to start their purchase journey, about four-in-five will research online, and those who do will most often check retailer websites.
Present relevant content.
Regardless of where they buy, shoppers use digital content to inform purchases. Especially for more expensive and involved categories like consumer electronics, online content should be consistent with what shoppers see in the store and relevant to variables that may change shopping behavior throughout the year. Focus on the information most searched for by your shoppers and include keywords and search terms in your product descriptions. Consumer electronics shoppers cite product specs (57%), reviews (54%), and comparisons (26%) as the information they look for most when researching what to buy.
Optimize your digital shelf.
Adhering to retailer.com requirements and maintaining content health scores will improve discoverability and engagement with your content. Not only does non-compliant content move you down in the search results, but you could also be de-listed. Partner with your agency to navigate constantly changing requirements, but remember that great content goes beyond the quantitative measurements of retailer content health scores like media limits and word counts. Adding a layer of qualitative considerations such as photo quality and bullet relevance will make your content even more valuable to shoppers’ purchase decisions.
Generate consistent awareness and interest.
When it is time for that upgrade or replacement, it’s critical to ensure your brand is in the consideration set. In inflationary conditions, many companies slash their top-of-funnel marketing budgets and focus on bottom-funnel strategies, but that may do more harm than good – especially for consumer electronics brands. A consistently balanced, full-funnel approach that includes awareness campaigns keeps you top of mind to capitalize on that moment of purchase intent.
4. Provide omnichannel purchase support.
One-in-four shoppers prefer to watch a product demo on an online video streaming site, such as YouTube, or demo virtually themselves. In addition to having a brand and product experts available for personalized interactions and in-store demos, leverage live and recorded video content. Explain competitive advantages, demonstrate functionality, help customers understand which products fit their lifestyle, and make this type of content available online and in-store on demo units or digital displays. By doing so, you engage with customers in a consistent way wherever they are and capture a wider audience by providing support for different preferences and comfort levels.
5. Reinforce brand and product value.
Acosta’s latest inflation survey from October uncovered that nearly half of all shoppers believe we are currently in recession – with 47% in agreement (up nine percentage points from June). To combat cost pressures, most shoppers will visit 1-2 stores and/or websites before making their final purchase.
Retailers and brands should combat these challenges with tactics that focus on demonstrating value for the money.
Be transparent in your pricing strategy.
Highlight exactly what your customers get in return for their dollars. Pricing transparency benefits all budget levels and helps shoppers feel confident with their purchases. Being upfront with your entire product line keeps shoppers engaged by avoiding the perception of hidden upselling.
Weave your value story into your digital content.
Given the ongoing concerns about inflation, make changes to keywords in your content to explicitly demonstrate value and price. And think about shifting digital media spending to retailers or channels with the best prices.
Use promotions and deals to move the needle.
Although sales and promos are not the top purchase drivers, that doesn’t mean they’re not important in driving purchase behavior. Sales coupled with replacements or upgrades may help convert a customer and maintain brand loyalty. Use product and price comparison signage and content to demonstrate the value of your product over the competition.
Though omnichannel consumer electronics shopping behaviors were evolving well before the pandemic, the necessity of online-first adoption during the pandemic caused shoppers to now demand a seamlessly integrated omnichannel path to purchase. Enhance your in-store and online presence, ensure cross-channel availability and consistency, and demonstrate value across all touchpoints to keep your brand top of mind and make products stand out from the competition when it's time to buy.
To learn more about the research included in this piece, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acosta Consumer Electronics Shopper Community Survey, September 2022
Acosta Inflation Impact and Actions Shopper Community Survey, October 2022
Acosta Omnichannel Insights and Opportunities Shopper Community Survey, November 2022