The Problem of Turning Browsers into Buyers

If you hadn’t heard, people are getting excited about the web again. Businesses are falling over themselves to setup shop online and engage with the millions surfing globally.

Hearing some of the statistics would start anybody thinking of becoming an internet entrepreneur. If you dig a bit deeper, however, it would appear wise to tread carefully. More browsers doesn’t necessarily mean more buyers.

A recent article in the Independent threw up enough statistics to get even the most hardened bricks and mortar traditionalist excited about running an online shop:

  • £42 billion will be spent online by UK shoppers this year.
  • This matches the turnover of UK supermarket giant Tesco.
  • 860 million parcels will be sent to 26 million shoppers, and not all of them were bought on Ebay.
  • A UK online shopper will spend an average £1600 this year.
  • E-commerce has grown globally by 3500% in the past 6 years.
  • The global online marketplace will be worth a total £250 billion this year, with 1 billion potential customers.

Reading these figures would get anybody hammering out Paypal buttons for those exotic tiles they found in Morocco. But before you jump on the ecommerce gravy train there are some more figures you probably should hear.

Jordan McCollum , guesting on The Marketing Pilgrim, linked in a recent post to research by Accenture on consumer online shopping habits. It would appear that although a healthy 69% use the internet for researching products only 33% will actually go on to purchase.

The rosy figures quoted on internet sales relate largely to purchases of electronic equipment, DVDs, groceries and bargain shopping for clothes, all items in which the purchasing decision was governed by price or convenience. Trying to sell something which might involve an element of persuasion is a little more problematic.

There’s a range of reasons why most still prefer the physicality of an offline purchase. But the online market is simply too large to ignore, and growing all the time.

To succeed online you need to find a way of building trust with your visitors and persuading them why they should spend their money with you.

If you can’t compete on price then you have to find other ways to differentiate yourself.

Sharing some of your knowledge and expertise in a blog, newsletter or white paper would be a good start.

As Jordan points out, “if you’re thinking of running an online-only eCommerce business, consider the reasons why two-thirds convert offline, and look for innovative ways to combat those excuses.”

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