Why you should be focusing on consistency for consumer experiences

New research finds retailers are putting more emphasis on consistency of experience than the convergence of their digital and physical channels (1, Boston Retail Partners). But why is consistency for consumer experiences a thing?

8 out of 10 consumers research online before buying something – this holds true for both in-store and online purchases. And while consumers are out to gather possible useful information about products, one factor can kill their intention to buy from you: inconsistency.

Countless studies have shown that when consumers discover inconsistent product information, it stops them from buying decisions. They may often not purchase that product or buy it from a competitor with consistent product information.

The worst thing about this? More product information than you think is inconsistent.

What is inconsistent product information?

Just missing measurement is enough to make potential buyers feel insecure about your product. Imagine not being sure how wide the TV you want to buy is. If you have limited space, this could be the major deciding factor.

What if you’re looking to buy a shirt and discover that it has conflicting colors on various reseller sites? If you’re looking for a specific tone, this may keep you from hitting that ‘buy’ button.

But inconsistency goes beyond missing facts and misleading images. If a product has inconsistent reviews, for example – excellent reviews on one reseller site, worse ones on another – this may also raise skepticism and decrease trust in a buying decision. But is it worse than having no reviews at all? Yes, if your competitors have them for their products.

However, despite the importance that consumers place on user reviews (see story), only a few resellers actively pay attention to them. This is a great missed opportunity – but it’s only one of many.

Today’s consumers have more shopping options than ever before with access to competitive pricing, greater merchandise assortments, and richer content. While this is great to increase online shopping experiences, it also puts more pressure on brands to deliver consistent experiences. The online customer journey is more complicated and competitive than ever before.

Today’s consumers have more shopping options than ever before with access to competitive pricing, greater merchandise assortments and richer content.
Today’s consumers have more shopping options than ever before with access to competitive pricing, greater merchandise assortments, and richer content.

How to take charge of product information consistency

Product information consistency starts with providing the correct information to resellers (which is also where things go wrong) but maintaining it is much more about auditing what information resellers actually display.

In our experience, the displayed information can stray a lot from what brands expect. Here are just some examples of the things that go wrong and create eCommerce product inconsistency:

  • Approved content isn’t actually being used

    There are systems on the market that help you store all materials, information, and content related to a product to make it easy for resellers to log in and find the materials needed for their site. There are also content systems that take on the job of distributing that content to resellers. Yet, it’s no guarantee they use the provided content. It’s up to the reseller to get content up and maybe to ensure it remains correct.

    This means that your product content is in the hands of someone else. In the end, it’s the retailer that decides which product information and how it appears for the consumer. They might describe your product passionately but still miss crucial information or details, creating inconsistency.
  • Products listed in the wrong category

    Using appropriate categories enhances the consumer experience and makes it easier for search engines to find your products. When selling products on reseller sites, not all of them use the same taxonomy, making this challenging. Few things create inconsistency faster than not finding what you’re looking for in the right category.
  • No focus on reviews affects consistency for consumer experiences 

    Many sites today integrate tests from other sites rather than gathering their own. Poor reviews, or poorly handled reviews, at one reseller site might affect customer purchases on many other sites as well. It doesn’t have to be difficult to track this and to ensure reviews are consistent or displayed in the right places.
  •  Different definitions of out-of-stock

    Making sure that your products are available for purchase is vital for consistent sales. In theory, this is easy. But what if the delivery time of your product exceeds two weeks? Online, which is almost equal to that your product is not available, quickly creates an undetected out-of-stock problem.

The best way to take charge of these product consistency drivers is to monitor them across resellers. And the best way to do that is with the help of an eCommerce auditing tool.

 

 

Originally published Mar. 18, 2020, updated Feb. 04, 2021

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