Purchase decision can be influenced by many different external factors. Customers choose to buy for a variety of reasons and recognising these influences can be incredibly important when attempting to market and sell products. Businesses are continually looking for ways to boost their sales and this is reflected in the countless surveys and feedback requests which are sent to shoppers each and every day. Companies have also recognised that the internet has completely changed the commercial landscape and the way in which consumers interact with businesses. Following are just some of the main factors which facilitate sales.
Many consumers like to be the first to purchase new products, especially when it comes to devices such as smartphones, computers and audio/visual equipment. It is for this reason that we see hundreds of people queuing up outside of stores at the launch of the newest gadget. Companies who continue to offer these zeitgeist products are much more likely to tap into this phenomenon.
With the advent of the internet, consumers are now free to conduct thorough research prior to making a purchase. This includes everything from written reviews and videos to product comparisons sites. Websites such as CNET provide in-depth ratings on a wide range of technological devices. These include written pieces and hands on demonstrations via video. With so much information available, many more customers are consulting these types of sites before they buy.
Another influence which affects customers and their decision to buy is choice. Consumers have more choice now than ever before and so they have grown to expect this from the companies they interact with. This means offering products in a wide range of sizes, colours and finishes and possibly even bespoke options.
Smartphones and tablets have become an extension of our daily life and this is having an effect on the way in which we shop. More and more people are opting to order goods from their mobile devices rather than their computers or the physical stores themselves. With this in mind companies should overview their smartphone and tablet platforms and ascertain whether they provide a fully functioning shopping experience. Businesses who fail to move with the times may be overlooked for a more modern counterpart.
Customer service has always been an issue that affects businesses and their relationships with consumers. What has changed in recent years is the type of customer service that people expect from their vendors. Customers can now interact with companies via social media and therefore expect prompt replies. Along with the standard phone and email contacts, many businesses now offer instant chat services. Shoppers are more likely to gravitate towards organisations who offer these particular services and this could have an impact on their overall purchase decisions.
Branding can be one of the most powerful tools within business. When customers form a relationship with a specific brand they can often remain loyal to that company which guarantees long term success for the business. For example, some people will only ever consider smartphones from Apple, whilst others prefer Samsung. These tech juggernauts share a large proportion of the consumer base whilst there are countless other companies offering similar products and failing to reach those sales figures. This is due in a large part to branding as many customers are aware of the larger companies and are therefore much more likely to purchase from them.
Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have had a huge effect on commerce. As well as companies having the ability to communicate directly with their consumer base, people are also influenced by their fellow online friends. In fact, research completed by the Big Commerce Blog found that 81% of people admitted that online posts from their friends influenced their purchase decision. In the past word of mouth marketing could boost sales, now a product can become an overnight hit thanks to social media.
Customers have become accustomed to a wide range of shipping options when they are shopping online. These include everything from same day delivery, to free shipping to collection within store. With larger companies offering a plethora of options, smaller businesses may be overlooked if they fail to offer the same. This is especially important for consumers who are looking to purchase larger goods.
According to research carried out by the Big Commerce Blog, the number one factor influencing purchase decision is product quality. I don’t deny that quality is an important issue for many consumers but it seems unusual that this would beat out pricing and it could be that this piece of research was affected by social desirability bias. Basically, respondents may have been uncomfortable admitting that cost was influential within their decision making.
Either way, quality is an issue that affects all businesses, however large or small. A low quality product can damage reputation and send customers to rival companies.
It may be obvious to conclude that cheaper products will sell more but this isn’t always reflected within the research. Many consumers will state that issues such as quality and branding are more important to them then pricing but when we look at the facts this just isn’t the case. Stores which offer heavy discounts e.g. Amazon, eBay etc. are continually outperforming competitors. This is also illustrated on the high street as we are seeing more and more people shopping in outlet and discount stores. With the economy as fragile as it is, competitive pricing is still one of the major influences when it comes to purchase decision.