E-commerce survey – Price vs Reputation
An interesting article caught my eye on Friday with a simple enough and important message “Price is important online. But not as important as reputation“. Referencing a study by usability consultancy Webcredible, the results are used to suggest that “28% of the 1300 online shoppers polled are most likely to make a purchase based on the reputation of a website”. This is an eye catching statistic and one that will almost certainly be repeated by agencies trying to convey the importance of creating trust in a brand and convey reassurance between a site and it’s users.
I immediately thought about a quote from film critic Dr Mark Kermode: ‘believe the tale, not the teller.’ Would a customer be able to tell you exactly why he bought from a specific retailer? Given the myriad of subtle persuasive techniques employed both offline and online, it would be a challenge for any customer to give an honest answer as to why they bought, because in a lot of instances they’ll be responding to psychological effects they may not be consciously aware of.
Secondly and much more importantly, while I broadly agree with the conclusions that ‘experience, trust and reliability matter’, I’m not convinced that too much can be read into the exact statistics quoted. While the e-consultancy article refers to ‘1300 online shoppers’, a quick glance at the original Webcredible survey says:
‘The ecommerce persuasion research polled 1,382 visitors to the Webcredible website between April and June 2009.’
1300 visitors to a website specialising in web usability consultancy is hardly a random sample of users. I can only hazard a guess as to the breakdown of survey respondants but I’d be more than willing to suggest that the type of individual looking for usability consultancy is very web-savvy and aware of the dangers of unsecure websites, and he’s also likely to be on a significantly higher salary than the national average. This would probably decrease the price sensitivity of the user.
An interesting study and an area certainly worth further research, but let’s not be too eager to quote exact percentages based on what appears to be a very restricted demographic sample.