[SURVEY] How important is clear product information for online shoppers?

There are more people than ever before who are now buying their gifts online – especially in the run up to Christmas.

People have also become savvier when purchasing gifts online and want to know more information about the product they’re buying before heading to the virtual check-out. They want to know dimensions, weight, colours, and where it was made – the list is endless.

Product information is vitally important, but especially as we gear up to Christmas it helps to know exactly what consumers really think about product information when purchasing gifts online. We commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey of British adults and the results were pretty conclusive.

Shoppers want clear product information and if retailers and online sellers get this wrong, then they could end up losing business.

Here are the results.

Do consumers really value clear product information?

Consumers of all backgrounds and persuasions are keen for retailers and online sellers to provide clear and robust product information before they bought gifts online. If product information is missing or incomplete, consumers would vote with their feet and go to the competition.

Our survey asked consumers to imagine they were interested in buying a Christmas gift online but some information about the product was missing and then consider if this was important to them?

Overwhelmingly 91% of consumers said it was important to have full and clear product information.  89% of men and 93% of women were likeminded and while 96% of peopled aged 55 agreed they also needed to have clear product information, this became less important with age – as 84% of both 25-34 and 18-24 year olds had to have accurate product information.

As you can see, despite some variations people broadly agreed that having clear product information before buying a gift online was important. However, the more children in a home the less important product information becomes. Adults with no children or just the one child, a solid 92% of this demographic found clear product information important, compared to only 77% of adults with three children in household.

The effect of having children in the household and how important product information is viewed cropped up in other areas of the research. In instances where there are three or more children in the household, people were less likely to do anything if product information was incorrect or missing.

This shouldn’t mean, however, retailers ought to ignore this group. But rather think how they can better serve them because they probably lack the time to spend hours looking at product information before buying their gifts or doing anything should the wrong gift arrive.

The market research then delved deeper and asked consumers what action they would take if some of the product information was missing on the website they were looking at.

The most popular answer by some distance was that more than half of British consumers (56%) would consider not using that online seller and go to a competitor. A small number of consumers (17%) would be sceptical about using that online seller again but would still buy the gift and an even smaller number (9%) would find it annoying but would still buy the gift.

Interestingly, women are more likely to go to a competitor (61%) than men (51%) and older people – 68% of 55+ and 66% of 45-54 year olds – would not consider using that online retailer before going to a competitor compared to 36% of 18-24 year olds.

69% of retired people would consider not using that online retailer and would go to a competitor, which compares to 35% of students and 44% unemployed.

And 60% of households with no children in the household would consider not using that online retailer/ seller and would go to a competitor, compared to 36% of those with three plus children in the house.

Receiving the wrong product: to complain or not to complain

What would you do if you received a wrong gift you had ordered online but instead of it being your fault it was because the retailer or online seller incorrectly displayed product information online?

Predictably, our survey found that when presented with this scenario, most adults would take some form of action, either through complaining to the retailer (45%) or returning the gift and expecting a refund (42%).

Broadly speaking, both men and women, as well as all age groups, mirrored the overall trend and would act if they received the wrong gift because product information was incorrect.

However, it was surprising to hear that consumers were less likely to take more affirmative action. Only 19% of Brits would return the gift and would go to a competitor, 14% would make sure they told others about the retailer's mistake and a meagre 6% would publicly broadcast their grievances on social media so even more people knew about the retailer's mistake.

Furthermore, in households where there were more than three children present, people were less likely to take action if they received the wrong gift due to incorrect display of product information as only 33% would send the gift back and expect refund, while only a third (31%) would complain to the retailer.

The gift you weren’t expecting

When British consumers were asked if they had bought a gift online but when it arrived, found out that it wasn't what they were expecting, 61% of British adults said they had no experience of this situation.

Around two thirds of both men (63%) and women (60%) had a positive experience of receiving what they had ordered but things got more interesting when you divided consumers via age, location and whether there were children in the household.

63% of adults with no children in the household had not experienced receiving the wrong gift, compared to adults with more than 3 children where 46% had experienced receiving the wrong gift.

And 70 % of Brits aged 55+ had not experienced receiving the wrong gift, compared to 18-24 (57%), 25-34 (53%), 35-44 (56%) and 45-54 (57%).

If we take a second to look at the differences between the age groups, the market research illustrated that older people had positive experiences when buying gifts online, wanted robust product information and were more likely go to a competitor, compared to their younger counterparts, if product information was missing. This suggests that if retailers keep this key market happy then there are rewards to be made.

Lastly, the research showed that consumers today have a positive experience of shopping online as more than two third had received what they were expecting. However, it should be alarming for retailers to hear that more than a third of consumers had not received the gift they were expecting.

We also asked consumers what they thought might be the reason for receiving an incorrect gift product they had ordered online. Overall, people were more likely to blame the retailer than themselves.

35% blamed incorrect product information, while only 17% said it could have been them who had not been paying attention to what they were buying.

Interestingly, 40% of 18-24 would have blamed inaccurate online product information for receiving the wrong gift compared to 31% of people aged 55+.

Clear product information is key

In Britain today we are approaching a competent level of online retail maturity. The vast majority of retailers and online sellers have robust platforms for consumers to buy products and customers themselves are adept at navigating the myriad of different places to buy their Christmas gifts.

Consumers shopping online clearly value clear and robust product information and if this is not provided, online retailers and online sellers risk losing customers to their competitors – and in the run-up to Christmas, this would be unthinkable for retailers up and down the country.


By: GS1

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