80% of all Sales Influenced by Online

scary money
The money being lost by Australian business online is truly scary.

One of the dangerous myths or excuses about online business is that it only accounts for less than 10% of all sales so it’s not yet a priority for many business owners and marketers.

That’s a dangerous and naive stance for any business person to take, but it seems particularly prevalent among Australian businesses.

The real amount of money they are losing is very scary.

Recent research from Liveperson shows nearly 80% of all sales are influenced by people researching online.

Online Influence

The research was carried out with over 6,000 interviews in Australia, US, UK, France, Germany and Italy. Over 1,000 were Australian. You can read or download the full report here.

In another similar study from GE, it found that 81% of shoppers research online before buying high value items. Study: 81% research online before making big purchases

If it is the case that around 80% research products and services online before shopping, then websites and online content are far more influential than they are given credit for. Marketers and business owners need to take notice.

What’s interesting about the GE figures is that the amount is up 20% over last year. Clearly the web is the number one place almost all shoppers go to for information.Influence up

As I said in another post, leading UK retailer John Lewis already knows that 60% of their customers shop both online and offline in a seamless and integrated manner.

And these days we know that most car and house sales are started online. The actual sale may be finished offline, but the key drivers these days are online.

Once we start taking all these factors into account, the actual amount of revenue that online influences and is actually responsible for is a whole lot more than the 6 or 8% of total sales that is often quoted.

Offline and Online Boundaries are Blurred

In fact, the report from Liveperson states that the distinction between offline and online is completely disappearing for many shoppers.

“Consumers are now able to shop anywhere, anytime with any device. They are using online, in-store and mobile channels interchangeably in order to make informed purchase decisions, maximise convenience and get the best possible deals. This presents significant consistency challenges for brands.”

I’ve long been a strident critic of separating online strategy from offline strategy and the whole online vs offline debate for precisely this reason. It detracts from any companies’ business goals and unnecessarily muddies the corporate thinking and strategy.

The customer never makes any distinction about where they buy from you. To them it’s all the same company.

What’s more, offline marketing can be one of the biggest drivers of online traffic and vice versa. If a business doesn’t take a holistic approach to their marketing and customer interactions, then they are going to lose sales.

In some respects online information may already be influencing a 100% of your total revenue. Now isn’t that a scary thought? How’s your website looking?

Where Business Keeps Failing Online

The Liveperson research also details several areas where businesses are continually failing online.

  • Some 83% of customers said they needed some form of support during their online journey.
  • 53% said they gave up immediately if they couldn’t find help.
  • And 48% said they abandoned the sale and went and bought the product somewhere else if help wasn’t supplied quickly.

This all contributes to high shopping cart abandonment rates. That is, where a potential customer has placed an order in a cart but for some reason is unable to complete the purchase.

This is the bane of many online retailers because it represents very real lost sales.

Other reasons for abandonment were lack of product information, difficult navigation, unexpected delivery costs, tedious login and registration processes, checkout problems, lack of information and help resources.

More Scary Maths

Now do some quick and dirty maths:

If online influences nearly 80% of all purchases and more than half of your customers abandon the process if it gets too difficult, then you could be losing half of all your potential sales – both offline and online.

That’s an even scarier thought.

All these things are nothing new, but the research shows that many online retailers simply aren’t getting the message.

Your site needs to just work, it needs to be easy to use and it must have all the information a potential shopper needs.

Failing to deliver on any of these points will lose you sales.

As the report says:

“Online customers have set the challenge. They want a customer experience that has speed and simplicity in every interaction. They are not willing to wait for an action and they are not prepared to expend energy trying to resolve a problem.”

What You Need to Do

In case the penny still hasn’t dropped:

If online content and media are influencing 80% of your sales, then your website and other online assets need to be at the centre of your business and marketing. And they probably they need to be the dominant strategy as well.

That means we all have truckload more work to do.

Other related stories here:

Australian online shoppers go global

Web sales will approach 10% of retail sales in Australia by 2017

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