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Researching That Product Before You Buy

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In 2021 there were 231 million online shoppers, approximately 20% of all retail sales. By 2026 23% of retail sales will be online.

Unlike in-store shopping, where salespeople can apply a bit of pressure on shoppers to buy, this doesn’t happen online. Online shoppers have time on their side to decide if they want the product and if is where they want to get it from.

According to one study, 81% of shoppers don’t just click the buy button when they find what they want to buy. First, they will do research on the suppliers and the products. The largest demographic is millennials, and in another survey, 72% say they leave eCommerce sites that don’t have customer reviews.

There are many ways to research products and services before committing to them, and in this business blog post, we look at some of the ways you can conduct your own research so you get the best deal.

Returns Policy

Many online shoppers fail to fully research a product before buying, meaning they either overpay or buy the wrong product. Most eCommerce stores allow full replacement or refund for returned purchases within the recommended timeframe.

There is no one overriding returns policy for retail or online shopping. For example, the EU has a product returns policy for their member countries, which is 14 days. See this article for a list of the 12 best and worst stores returns policies.

As part of your research, ensure you’re aware of the store’s returns policy.

Customer Reviews

reviews

Do customers trust star reviews or content reviews? Content is more trusted. What does a 1 or 2-star rating actually mean? Words matter, and Yelp has a blog post on customer reviews.

While you’re on the shopping site, look for customer reviews (content, not star ratings). If the site doesn’t have reviews, it should be a warning sign that they may be hiding about the product or service. Unfortunately, don’t believe everything read with customer reviews as they can be bought. While it is hard to believe, businesses can buy or incentivize customers to provide favorable reviews.

However, not all companies that ask their customers to review products, especially new releases, are dishonest. For example, with the release of a new type of face cream, how can shoppers do research on it? They can not. Therefore, buyers will extend their research to the business. If shoppers work out that the business has a loyal customer base willing to try new products and provide feedback – i.e., a review, they will value that feedback in their purchasing decision.

Marketers do use customer reviews as a marketing and sales strategy and will set aside a budget to get shoppers to become product reviewers. However, savvy online shoppers know not to solely trust businesses that incentivize customers to provide reviews.

reviews

Yelp Blog

There are many trusted review sites to visit, too including:

  • Google Reviews
  • Yelp
  • Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Angie’s List
  • Consumer Reports
  • TrustPilot

Amazon reviews are always a great source of information when it comes to products, and often could change your opinion on a product you were initially sure of. Make sure you read as many reviews as possible because the bad reviews may be an anomaly or bad luck on the writer’s part. On the other hand, don’t let yourself be put off by 1 bad review of a product. Remember that everyone has an idea of what makes a product worth the money.

Use A Testing Site

If you are still unsure after reading some product reviews, see if you can get a product sample from an online store or a product testing site. Some legitimate sites have experts who test products from various categories and review the product in detail.

The advantage of a product testing service is that you will get a fully rounded review of a product with its good and bad points, and you can make an informed decision. The disadvantage is it’s a paid service. However, it can be worth paying for a product test and report if you’re keen on buying a high-ticket item, i.e., it’s expensive.

Compare Prices

The most crucial step to buying a product online is to make sure that you explore every avenue and bag yourself the best possible deal. Although you could scour the first page of search results and choose the lowest price, you are much better off using google shopping.

When you search for anything online, you will gain a shopping tab of results alongside the web results and images. If you go onto the shopping results, you will see the product at different prices. This product is likely being sold at many places online, and bringing them all in one place is the best way to make an informed decision.

It may be tempting to go straight for the lowest price you can find but bear in mind that you will also want to buy the product from a brand you trust. You can research the brand online and see if anyone has sent in complaints about their service if you want to be thorough.

Just because you’ve not heard of the brand before doesn’t mean they will rip you off.

Try Auction Sites

Once you’ve looked and found the product you want, you need to look on websites such as eBay to see if they have this product for a reduced price. It might be secondhand or brand new, but the important thing is to see if you can get this product from a site you trust and for a lower price.

Shop vs Online

Retailers can provide products cheaper online without the expense of frontline staff and a walk-in store. However, check the delivery fee. Sometimes it can work out to be more expensive to shop online than in person. Plus, stores need to make sales too to pay for their staff and other expenses, so before you use your mouse to click buy, check if there are promotions that make visiting the store worthwhile.