Internet shoppers plan to spend less in 2009

Internet shoppers are planning to spend less in 2009 than they did last year, when they forked out a staggering £20bn for online products and services. According to a new study, almost half of people currently shopping online say they will be spending less via the Internet in the coming year. Just when you thought the web was going to come to the rescue of businesses as the recession bites, along comes the consumer to say “no thanks”.

So, if people are planning to spend less, how can you make sure you face up to the competition and convince them to spend with you, rather than some other web site? Never before has persuasiveness been such an important topic.

Today’s research gives you a big clue. Six out of ten people in the survey said that recommendations and promotional emails would be more likely to make them buy online. Two thirds of online shoppers now use recommendations in order to help them determine whether or not to buy, the study shows.

Previous research shows that recommendations on a web site actually lead to more sales. In a study of online recommendations, researchers from The Netherlands found that product sales went up by 20% when they had an associated recommendation.

Essentially what happens with recommendations is they trigger the subconscious need for social acceptance. When we do something, we are always hoping that what we do will be acceptable to others; if it isn’t, we get stressed. So our subconscious brain works all the time to make sure that what we are doing is as socially acceptable as possible.

When it comes to buying something, we always want to know (subconsciously) that we have made the right choice. When other people confirm our choice, in their recommendations, it is telling our subconscious brain that it is OK to buy the item. In other words, if your products and services do not have recommendations or star ratings from buyers, you are REDUCING the chances of social acceptance and thereby cutting down on your potential sales.

Interestingly, the research published today also emphasises the importance of email marketing. Online shoppers want to hear from you via email. Forget all the nonsense that email is dead; your customers are telling you that’s how they want to be informed of products they might want to buy.

So, your strategy for survival as people spend less online in 2009 is easy. Firstly, set up reviews and star ratings for your products (if you don’t already have them on your web site). Secondly, make sure you crank up your email marketing.

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