From Confusion to Clarity: Understanding the needs and behaviours of the consumer electronics market

Introduction

Consumers are increasingly turning to online channels for their electronic shopping needs. The emergence of AI virtual sales advisors has started to transform this landscape, offering benefits such as instant assistance, personalised recommendations, and 24/7 support.

As the demand for online channels grows, how can businesses ensure they are meeting the needs of the online consumer? This article delves into recent research conducted by 15gifts to understand the needs and behaviours of the electronic consumer market - specifically in laptop sales - and how AI powered sales advisors are reshaping the online shopping experience.

Key Insights

Over 55% of participants ranked the processor performance and price as the two top specifications they care about when choosing a laptop.

75% of participants were willing to speak to a human sales advisor. They’d value a product expert but avoid advisors that pushed them to make decisions.

38% of people that purchased online also went into the store. Convenience and price were the key reasons why people choose to purchase online.

56% of participants would appreciate an AI Sales Advisor to help them with online electronic purchases.

Understanding Consumer Buying Patterns

51% of people buy laptops less than once every 3 years

86% have a decision to make about which brand they will choose with 44% choosing between multiple options.

45% feel overwhelmed by the array of choice when selecting their next laptop.

The Omnichannel Shopper

It comes as no surprise that nearly half of the respondents reported feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of options when choosing their next laptop. More specifically, 35% found that technical jargon complicated product comparisons, and 28% said they have difficulty assessing whether the laptop performance would be suitable for their needs.

Navigating this challenge is even more complex, as consumers typically consult an average of 3.8 sources before finalising a purchase. Furthermore, over half of online shoppers indicated browsing through manufacturer and customer review platforms. Among those opting for in-store purchases, 59% revealed a visit to an online retail store, while 45% also explored manufacturer and consumer websites.

Online vs In Store Purchases

The shopping journey often entails a blend of online and in-store experiences. Our research indicates that while 66% of purchases were made online, 38% of these customers actually visited a physical store before finalising their online purchase. On the flip side, among those who made in-store purchases, 30% initially checked out the retail website.

When it comes to opting for in-store purchases, the primary driver is the desire to physically inspect the product before committing to buy. This is closely followed by the preference to interact with a salesperson and secure a good deal. The ability to have a tactile experience with the product, receive personalised assistance, and secure a bargain play vital roles in the decision-making process for many customers.

The Role of AI Virtual Sales Advisors

One of the striking facts that emerged from our research is the integral part physical stores still play within the online shopping journey. This strongly proves that consumers, more than ever, have a pressing need for tangibility and social interaction in order to build confidence.

AI-powered virtual sales advisors can fill this need by delivering an online experience that reflects the in-person experience. Our study indicates growing acceptance for AI in the shopping journey, with 56% of consumers open to using AI sales advisors for electronic goods. This highlights the potential for businesses to capitalise on this growing trend and enhance their online shopping experience.

By utilising AI-powered virtual sales advisors, retailers can offer personalised and tailored recommendations to customers, based on their specific needs and preferences. This not only improves the overall customer experience but also leads to higher conversion rates and increased sales.

Moreover, AI-powered virtual sales advisors provide accurate product information and solve customer queries instantly, reducing the need for multiple touch points in the buying process.

Addressing Concerns and Building Trust

AI can simplify complex technical jargon and aid in product comparisons, which were identified as major pain points for consumers. By presenting clear, concise, and comparable information, AI advisors can help buyers make more informed decisions without feeling overwhelmed.

Even though the benefits of AI are crystal clear, it’s key to consider how customers view AI to build trust in the solution. Here are the main worries we found in our survey:

Untrustworthy or Bias Results

44% of respondents lack confidence in the reliability of AI recommendations. This issue underscores the importance of enhancing transparency in AI tools regarding their algorithms and data sources.

Loss of Human Touch

40% of respondents expressed concern about losing the ‘human touch’ in their shopping journey. Developing empathetic AI, harnessing consumer psychology, and enhancing personalised engagement tools can effectively address this sentiment.

Conclusion

AI virtual sales advisors are gradually revolutionising the consumer electronics shopping experience by offering instant support, personalised recommendations, and seamless integration across online and in-store environments. As the landscape evolves, retailers must leverage AI's full potential to meet the expectations of today's tech-savvy consumers.

But while challenges such as trust and misinterpretation persist, businesses need to find a way to address these issues. By understanding the nuanced capabilities of the best human salespeople, businesses can integrate the elements of successful in-person selling with cutting-edge AI technology. This evolution will ensure they provide a more complete, human-like sales experience, improving customer satisfaction and driving higher conversion rates.

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