Consumers use digital tools before purchasing
July 12, 2013

With small and medium-sized enterprises representing an important component to local economic growth, they need to utilize every resource to the best of their ability to continue driving sales and generating revenue. According to a recent survey by GE Capital Retail Bank, the majority of consumers go online to look at products and services before heading into a brick-and-mortar store. However, a significant portion of shoppers stay online to do their purchasing. With more companies becoming active on the Web, not investing in electronic payment systems can result in lost sales.

Digital research influences revenue
South Carolina news source The Herald reported GE Capital Retail Bank's second annual "Major Purchase Shopper Study" found more than 80 percent of shoppers begin their search online. Conducted by marketing research firm Rothstein Tauber, the nationwide survey of 3,200 consumers noted internet research helped customers choose what to buy before entering a store.

For larger purchases, the average consumer spent 79 days collecting product information, and 66 percent of respondents reported using their desktop or laptop to search the Web. While many chose to stay home to conduct the research, 19 percent of participants said a mobile-optimized merchant website was very important to their digital shopping experience.

With most consumers going online, PYMNTS suggested SMEs invest in electronic payment systems before they begin to see revenue drop. PYMNTS reported SMEs need to understand that to improve their supply chain and sales efficiency, they may need to utilize online purchasing innovations.

Toni White, chief marketing officer for GE Capital, said that because online research is a key element of the shopper experience, SMEs should identify what drives consumers to choose one store over another.

"While online research plays a bigger role throughout the major purchase process, 60 percent of consumers start by visiting a search engine, then go to the retailer's website, and ultimately, 88 percent made their final purchase in store," White said.

In fact, White identified credit card acceptance as an attraction for many customers, with 79 percent of respondents saying they would enter a store if they need they could use their plastic.

Building a more loyal customer base begins with optimizing the company website and providing multiple transaction options. Consumers prefer to use their favorite payment method, and SMEs can lose customers by not accepting different payment types. With many customers using digital tools to examine their purchasing options, SMEs need to stand out from the competition with electronic payment systems.

Nexus: G-WEBCD1