Meeting the Expectations of Today’s High-Tech Shopper

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Are consumers who shop for high-tech devices like laptops, tablets and related accessories different than the average shopper in terms of purchasing behavior and preferences? According to a new study, there are some key differences that merchants should be aware of.

The study, “How to Click with High-Tech Online Shoppers” from UPS, found that high-tech shoppers are generally more plugged in, tend to be explorers and are more likely to seek convenience in their experience. They are also more likely to make purchases online, either via desktop, mobile phone or wearable device.

High Tech Shoppers are Highly Engaged

High-tech shoppers are highly engaged online, the UPS study found. Fifty-four percent of them have made ecommerce purchases in the last three months, compared to 48% for consumers in general. They also plan to shop more online across devices than in stores in the upcoming year.

“We found it is very important to have that seamless experience either through their virtual or physical stores,” said David Roegge, director of High-Tech Segment Marketing for UPS. “Make sure both reflect how they want to shop.”

Roegge said it is important to make sure there is detailed product information, peer and professional reviews and online access to physical store inventory. “It’s all about the omnichannel experience now,” he said.

The Role of Social Media with High-Tech Shoppers

Eighty percent of high-tech shoppers are more likely than others to be active in social media. They use it to follow retailers (42%), influence purchase decisions (37%), make purchases and express satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

Twenty-eight percent of them will post a photo on social media when dissatisfied with a brand or product, vs. 17% for non-high-tech shoppers.

These shoppers are also strongly influenced by reviews. Sixty-one percent of them rate consumer and peer reviews as important in online product selection vs. 55% for non-high-tech purchasers.

Roegge said platforms popular among these shoppers are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. They are also more likely to be influenced by social media in terms of purchasing decisions.

He added that 39% of high-tech shoppers use social media to post comments about a product or service, and just as many post reviews. Thirty-seven percent of them are more apt to recommend products on social media.

The Importance of Mobile

High-tech shoppers use mobile devices at every touchpoint along the shopping experience.  This includes researching products (52%), checking store inventory (65%), using a retailer’s mobile app (71%), purchasing (42%) and tracking deliveries (78%).

Slightly more of them made purchases on their smartphones in 2016 than in 2015, 42% vs. 38%. Nearly three-quarters of them (73%) said they were satisfied with the smartphone shopping experience.

“It is really important to have a seamless mobile experience,” said Roegge. “High-tech shoppers are moving from computers to mobile devices as a primary shopping tool.”

Multiple Sources for Information

High-tech shoppers will look at marketplaces, customer ratings and search engines as the top three information sources influencing their purchases.

The survey revealed that retailers can narrowly target high-tech purchasers through sources that skew much higher for them compared to non-high-tech purchasers. There is a 12% point difference between the groups’ use of price comparison sites and social media channels, and a 13% point difference between them in terms of the groups’ clicking of mobile advertising.

Roegge said some of the best ways retailers can conduct broad marketing campaigns to target high-tech shoppers is through social media, email, mobile campaigns and search.

“We’re actually seeing a lot of [high-tech shoppers] going to marketplaces to conduct searches for products or specific retailers, and we’re seeing social media as a growing influence on purchase decisions,” said Roegge. “Fifty-four percent of social media users will click and explore a post that has a promotion with a retailer.”

High-Tech Shoppers are Influenced by Deals and Promotions

Over half of the survey respondents say emails offering free shipping or discounts will prompt them to shop with a retailer. High-tech shoppers also are more likely to buy from a retailer that provides offers, promotions and recommendations.

Nearly two of out three online high-tech orders come with free shipping, the UPS survey found.  Among high-tech purchasers, 46% will add items to a cart, and 36% will select ship to store to qualify for free shipping.

Merchants need to offer detailed product selection, guaranteed delivery dates and clear shipping fees, Roegge said. “Fifty-four percent of respondents said they will follow up to purchase an item if offered a discount,” he said. “Fifty-three percent will follow up if offered free shipping and 33% rate free shipping as the most important option when checking out online.”

A Simplified Returns Process

Fifty-eight percent of high-tech shoppers said they prefer to return items to the store. Of those, 73% made a new purchase while in store. As for return preferences, they want an easy-to-print return label (42%), quick product exchanges (28%) and a physical store location nearby (22%).

Forty-five percent of shoppers surveyed by UPS returned an item purchased online in the past year. Overall, 42% of those surveyed prefer to ship an item back to a retailer, and 48% made a new purchase online.

“It’s all about simplifying the process, giving them multiple options and convenient options both online and in store,” said Roegge. “Return rates are three times higher online than in store.”

Why Alternate Delivery Locations are Important

Alternate delivery locations are more important for high-tech purchasers (39%) than non-high-tech purchasers (31%), UPS found.  Fifty-nine percent of high-tech purchasers said they prefer shipping to an alternate location with extended hours.

The survey found the store’s role is shifting for high-tech shoppers, including using them for online order pickups. They are more likely than non-high-tech shoppers to use ship-to-store (55% versus 45%).

Among high-tech shoppers who use ship to store, 51% are likely to purchase additional products in store.

Roegge said giving customers more order fulfillment flexibility wins loyalty as it makes it easier for them to fit it into their busy schedules. He said his company has found this to be especially true in urban areas where they can redirect orders to a UPS Access Point Location like a 7-11 store.

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