Retail Websites, Not Google, First Stop for Online Shoppers

There are a million ways for consumers to start the online shopping process, from email to social media to good old fashioned recommendations from friends and family. As it turns out, though, the most popular starting line for online shopping is the most obvious: the retail website.

Research from Compete shows that for most online consumers, the retail website is a more popular avenue for research than search engines, online ads, reviews or even friends and family. This holds true the vast majority of product categories, including grocery, health and beauty, pet supply products, books, movies, music and video, home improvement products, consumer electronics and shoes. The one exception was apparel, where research is more likely to to start from email marketing.

Online Product Research

The lesson for marketers

Does this data mean we should throw the other components out the window and dedicate entire marketing budgets to web design? Of course not; SEO, email marketing, online reviews and social media marketing are all still valuable pieces of the online product research process, but in smaller proportions.

The study does, however, remind us of the value of intuitive onsite user experience. Does your site have the tools to turn researchers into buyers? Are landing pages optimized? Are online reviews available onsite, or will visitors have to chase them down elsewhere? Do you have the photos, videos and thorough descriptions that consumers require to make the all-important purchasing decision?

Which online retail experiences stick out to you as intuitive and enjoyable? Share your favorites with us below.