Friday, August 30 11:11:03
Irish firms are struggling to keep up with changing consumer behaviour as shoppers fully embrace the bargain-hunting opportunities presented online.
Irish consumers are now continuously using online channels to compare providers, with the vast majority likely to switch if offered a better deal elsewhere, according to research released today by Accenture.
The research reveals that 82pc of Irish consumers are now continuously comparing offers by different companies online, and that more than 90pc of customers are likely to switch providers if offered a better deal. Despite this however, the research reveals that only 30pc of Irish companies are currently offering online incentives.
The analysis of online buying behaviours, undertaken on behalf of Accenture by UCD Michael Smurfit School of Business, sought to identify the difference between consumer expectations and company practices.
Information gathering is the number one reason given by Irish consumers for using digital channels, with the ability to purchase fully online ranked fifth. When it comes to purchasing, 38pc of Irish consumers now claim to buy something online once-a-week, and 55pc purchasing once-a-month.
Data privacy remains a concern for consumers when dealing with companies online. The research suggests however that if companies engage with customers in a transparent manner - explaining what they are doing with the data - consumers' concerns decrease. It is noteworthy however that 40pc of consumers surveyed claim to be willing to give their personal data to companies in exchange for targeted deals.
Consumers are willing to engage more with companies online and are now more likely to complain online. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63pc) say they are likely to publicly complain when they have had a bad experience, with social media channels now the number one forum for consumers expressing grievances. Interestingly, the likelihood of consumers complaining increases with age with 57pc of 15 to 24 year olds likely to complain about a bad experience with a company, compared to 73pc of 45 to 54 year olds. Two in five (41pc) respondents have at some time shared experiences (both positive and negative) on social media.
"Companies more than ever need to make a real effort to understand and connect with their customers" says Vicky Godolphin, Head of Digital and Marketing Services, Accenture Management Consulting Ireland.
"It is vital to have a digital strategy that is implemented and owned by all parts of the organisation, for example, if you have social media - you need to actively engage and communicate with your customers. We can also see from this research that customer loyalty is there to be won - if they want more incentives - you need to offer more; three-quarters of consumers are more loyal to a brand or company when offered access to a reward programme".