Will the Favorites of Today Remain Popular?

While competition constantly shifts, the top tier of consum­ers’ favorite online retailers is stable. There was little move­ment among the top 10 in a 2015 consumer survey by Prosper Insights & Analytics; the full list includes only six relative new­comers. This allows for greater insights about what motivates shoppers, where they like to shop, and what methods retail­ers are using to draw them in—and it’s all been represented in recent research.

So what does it all say—and more importantly, what does it all mean? Pam Goodfellow, director of consumer insights for Prosper, provides a deeper look at two recent surveys: one assessed shoppers’ favorite online retail sites; the other looked at consumer behavior. Each provides a clear message about where online retailing is today, as well as the fact that consum­ers still have their “favorites.”

“These are some of the biggest names in retail any­way,” Goodfellow says. “These are safer retailers for a lot of consumers to visit. Younger consumers are a little more trusting when it comes to online shopping. For Baby Boomers or some­one a little older, consumers see these as safe retailers when it comes to online shopping.”

It’s no surprise that Amazon continues to dominate among all age groups, even increasing its share slightly. Millennials ranked it even higher. Walmart.com ranks second, although its share dropped slightly from 2014; Walmart ranks higher among Millennials than it does among Baby Boomers. Does this mean Amazon has a lock on online retailing? Goodfellow points to Walmart’s status as the top bricks-and-mortar retailer. Still, “Walmart has its issues competing with Amazon,” she says. “For the foreseeable future, Amazon will be the one to beat. But that’s the interesting part of retail: It’s always changing.” There are newcomers that hope to chip away at big retail­ers’ dominance. Take Jet, which is tackling both Amazon and warehouse clubs. But Amazon has something that could make that tough. “Amazon has collected a loyal shopper base,” Good- fellow says. “Its customer service speaks for itself.” Even if Amazon Prime Day drew mixed reviews, “It shows that Ama­zon is trying different things and still testing.” A final thought on Amazon: It increased its share slightly. Goodfellow believes “this shows that people are still discovering Amazon.”

It might be easy to gloss over Best Buy’s move to number three on the list of favorites. The increase was relatively small, though it could signal a solution to an even bigger concern: show­rooming. “That had a lot of analysts wondering what the future was going to look like for Best Buy,” Goodfellow says. “With a focus on customer service and the price matching that it’s now doing, it has brought some consumers back into the fold.”

Those shopping at Best Buy and Walmart are apt to have triggers that drive them to the two Web sites: coupons for Walmart shoppers and a cable TV ad for Best Buy shoppers. Most triggering events—such as an online ad or text message— are apt to move a Walmart or Best Buy shopper to the online store more than Amazon shoppers who are more apt to be trig­gered by reading an article.

Data show several key insights about shoppers in general. It’s probably no surprise that Best Buy shoppers are the most mobile- savvy. But what may be surprising is those same shoppers are more likely to compare prices or ask for a price match, and are the most likely to look at another retailer’s Web site while in the store.

Source: Barry Berman, Joel R Evans, Patrali Chatterjee (2017), Retail Management: A Strategic Approach, Pearson; 13th edition.

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