More consumers are shopping online than ever before. But are you engaging with them effectively?
After years of continued growth and a boost from pandemic-era changes in consumer behavior, online retail sales are expected to hit a major milestone this year. That’s according to FTI Consulting, which recently issued a prediction that ecommerce sales will exceed $1 trillion in 2022. By the end of this year, the firm expects that online sales will make up 22.1% of total retail sales—a big jump from the 15.2% share it held back in 2019. But just because more people are shopping online, that does not mean that any old digital strategy will do. Today’s retailers need to be tactical about how they engage with consumers online. Amidst these shifting buying habits, a new survey from Colonial is shedding light on how mattress retailers can better understand and communicate with online shoppers.
While ecommerce is still far from making up the majority of total retail sales, there is no doubt that today’s consumers are more comfortable shopping online than ever before. The pandemic accelerated this uptick, as initial shutdowns and ongoing health precautions drove many to adjust their buying behavior. This ultimately turbo-charged an existing trajectory. Prior to the pandemic, FTI Consulting predicted that it would take the online market until 2025 to hit the $1 trillion milestone—putting us nearly three years ahead of schedule. So what can retailers do to catch up?
New Research Sheds Light On Online Mattress Shoppers
Like all sales strategies, the key to connecting with online mattress shoppers is to first understand how they tick. What are they looking for? What are they worried about? To get a clearer picture of consumer mattress buying behavior, Colonial commissioned a research study in Q1 of 2022 through America’s Research Group. The sample included eight hundred consumers who purchased a mattress in the last two years and planned to buy it from an online-only website but changed their mind and bought it in a retail store or through a local store’s website instead. The study was conducted in eight major cities across the United States.
What Makes A Good Retail Website?
First, it’s important to remember that the path of shopping for a mattress online is not always simple. Over 50% of the consumers surveyed said they visited five or more sites when shopping for a mattress—with the most popular website being Wayfair.
But what makes a retail website stand out? The study found that consumers determined the quality of a website based on certain features, including: easy navigation, information on what the mattress is made of—and details on where to buy local.
The study also dove deeper into the efficacy of different types of messages found on a local retailers’ homepages. Of the participants in the study, 52.3% said the message “we beat Amazon’s prices” would “most definitely” cause them to buy from the local retailer’s site—while 47.6% said “no one beats our price” would drive them to buy. The third most effective message (at 38.9%) was “our 120 day satisfaction guarantee gives you time to get used to your new mattress.”
Why Some Consumers Are Hesitant To Buy A Mattress Online
While today’s consumers are more comfortable than ever buying the items they want and need online, there is still a certain amount of hesitation when it comes to buying a mattress on their phone or computer. In fact, the study found that 84.8% of consumers said they have concerns about buying online. Of this group, 39.4% said their concerns are centered on “wanting to lay down on it” and 27.3% worried “what if they don’t like it.”
A smaller percentage of these consumers (18.3%) feel they will pay more when buying a mattress from an online-only company. Of this group, 66.4% said they believe these companies are more expensive because their delivery costs are higher.
The worries that consumers have around buying a mattress online are valid and retailers must acknowledged them if they want to bring in their business, both online or in-store. A clear, easy-to-navigate website can help address many of these concerns head-on, whether directing the consumer to a brick-and-mortar location where they can try the bed out in person—or emphasizing the reassurance offered through their return policy and satisfaction guarantee.
Starting the search for a new mattress online also allows consumers to more easily comparison shop, which makes it all the more important for retailers to emphasize the deals they can offer. If you can beat the prices of major online sellers like Amazon, don’t be shy about saying so!
At the same time, well-crafted and easy-to-understand product descriptions can help the consumer recognize why a particular mattress may be more expensive than another one sold elsewhere. Delivering cogent messaging that stresses the quality of the mattresses and their features, such as back support or overall comfort, will stand out to shoppers looking for the best.
As the ecommerce market continues to grow, that uptick in sales does have to be reserved for just the major online players. With a thoughtful, more targeted approach to messaging, local retailers can and will see a piece of the ever-expanding online market share moving forward.