There’s no denying that the pandemic has impacted our lives. It is changing the way we work, interact with family and friends, and buy the things we want and need. Statista found 52% of consumers reported shopping more online due to COVID, and those who had never used e-commerce services in the past felt motivated to do so in the wake of the crisis. Not only that, McKinsey found 77% of Americans are trying new shopping behaviors during the crisis, including new methods, brands, and places, with the intention of sticking with them in the long-term.
At Invoca, we were interested specifically in how buying behavior has changed (or not) when it comes to complicated or high-stakes goods and services, such as insurance, a mortgage, new car, or cable service. So, in September, we surveyed 500 consumers online (all respondents were over the age of 18 and based in the U.S.), and we got a ton of interesting data back about how consumers are making these big purchases and what helps them feel confident when it comes to clicking “buy now” on a multi-year service or something that might not be so easy to return.
We’re excited to share the findings today in a new report, High-Stakes Purchases and Consumer Confidence in the COVID Era, which uncovers how consumers are approaching expensive and complex purchases in this new environment, and what gives them confidence in making these complicated purchases.
Key Findings: High-Stakes Online Purchases Growing During Pandemic
Despite the economic downturn brought on by COVID, Invoca’s report finds people are still making high-stakes purchases, such as cars, insurance policies, wireless plans, and big ticket home improvement items. However, they’re changing the way they research and buy these items, in many cases moving entirely online. For example, the survey found online purchases in automotive grew 115% since March and increased 85% in home services.
That said, consumers have important concerns when shopping online: People are most concerned that they won’t be able to verify the product or service quality before purchasing (36%), that they’ll choose the wrong product or service (22%), that refunds will be complicated (21%) and that they won’t get the best deal (19%).
For consumers making complex purchases online, it's just as important to provide them with an option to get live, expert sales assistance as it is to have a fully functional website across devices. 81% of consumers said that just having a phone number displayed online so they know they can quickly call a representative, should they have questions, made them feel more confident in their purchases. 80% said having a website that is fully functional across devices made them feel confident.
Brands must move quickly to provide the info consumers need — or risk losing them. 30% of consumers said that when a website feels outdated, they will choose a different brand, while 32% will do so when the website does not load quickly or freezes often. 33% of consumers will ditch the brand if the website does not make it easy to find product or pricing info.
Brands must be ready to answer the call. 87% said talking to a person on the phone to answer questions made them feel more confident in making these complex purchases online. When customers are dissatisfied with a website that otherwise offers what they’re looking for, 48% are very likely or likely to call the business.
Consumer Behavior Has Changed and it May Be Permanent
Our survey data signals that consumer needs and motivations haven’t just changed momentarily due to COVID; brands are in fact dealing with a whole new reality.
As more consumers move online - and plan to stay there - brands should be thinking about making it easy for buyers to have the experience they want. For example, give them access at the right time to a phone number or live chat if they need help while on your website, and enable your sales reps with the data they need to provide a positive experience when people call. Then, feed all of this rich conversational data back into your business to create experiences that delight and ultimately drive revenue.