Gone are the days where you found out about the next “big” product through a TV commercial and then had to get in your car and physically go to the store to buy it. But online shopping has been around since 1995, so why are habits changing so much today? And will these changes stick? Or are there some digital warnings that we should all be looking out for?
There’s No Need To Leave Your Couch
There are several reasons why buying habits have changed other than the simple answer that it’s just easier and more convenient. Companies have also stepped up their digital experience extensively. Not only are websites and social media platforms much more intuitive, interactive and more aesthetically pleasing, but companies like Warby Parker are now offering at home try-on capabilities that literally allow customers to pick what they want, try it on, and place their order all from the comfort of their own home.
And, as the percentage of working mothers in the United States continues to increase, it really just comes down to time. People everywhere are constantly searching for ways to do more (or as much as they can) in less time. Need to get your kids school supplies? No need to stop at Target on the way home. Just place your order on Amazon during your lunch break and have it two days later.
Many men and women are also much more comfortable trying on clothes by themselves than in a crowded dressing room at the mall. Companies like Stitch Fix are combining that comfortability with shopping suggestions to help find clothes that will fit and feel great.
Although bloggers have been around for quite some time, the way that they’re influencing consumer has completely changed in the past few years. Thanks to apps such as ‘Like To Know It’ and ‘Shop My Instagram’, individuals are now able to purchase products that they’re seeing on these influencers right from their phones. And, thanks to instagram stories, bloggers have gone from writing pages about a particular product that they really love to sharing their day-to-day lives via a quick video on Instagram. Instead of trusting someone behind a computer screen, people are now able to see and hear the faces and voices of these influencers and often build relationships with them.
But the technology just continues to evolve. Saving story highlights have given bloggers a way to save their recommendations in one easily accessible place on their Instagram. Swipe up technology allows almost instantaneous purchases. And now companies such as Like To Know It are connecting your Instagram behaviors to an even more reliable source — your email. Now when swiping up, you can send the product to your email so that you can shop it at a later time. Like To Know It also sends you all of the swipes you’ve made on a particular Instagram account: creating yet another touch point for you and another opportunity for the influencer to receive affiliate credit.
Large Online Purchases
Consumers are also becoming more and more comfortable making large and important purchases online. From cars on sites like Carvana to diamond rings from direct-to-consumer brands such as Clean Origin, people are putting their complete trust in the eCommerce experience.
And with good reason. More and more 3rd party sites are allowing individuals to do extensive research before making these big decisions. Gaining ghost experience from other customers that include personal anecdotes and often photos or videos of the item(s). Sites like Reddit built their entire platform off being as reliable as possible without interference of brands. With so much opportunity for trust, combined with ease of use, it’s no wonder these larger purchases are being made at a much higher rate than before.
So should we expect all of these changes to last? Although it’s unlikely that online purchases will decline anytime soon, there’s been some recent chatter that might prompt some new adjustments, especially for influencers.
For example, some people think Google might soon be killing off affiliate marketing links. In an attempt to compete with Amazon, soon users might be able to make purchases directly from a Google search. Although this could tentatively hurt someone’s blog posts, would it actually be able to put a serious dent in their income with the other 3rd party resources we mentioned above?
Instagram has also hinted at the idea of removing the ability to see ‘likes’ on a post. Since much of influencing is seeing that other people like the same influencers, this could damage the reputation and popularity of these bloggers.
No matter the changes that come in the future, one thing is for sure: millennials are changing buying habits in a way we’ve never seen before and as technology continues to advance, companies will simply need to keep up with what’s ‘new’ for fear falling behind in this fast-paced digital world.