The average shopper isn’t hunting for the best deal. At least, not all the time.
This is news to many, especially for the apparently new age of ecommerce: direct from manufacturer purchasing.
The idea here is that shoppers buy products directly from overseas merchants and manufacturers at outrageously discounted prices.
In a recent article for The Atlantic, Alana Semuels calls this a “growing trend in ecommerce.” Wish.com, the largest ecommerce facilitator of these transactions, is the focal point of Semuel’s article. With a valuation of $8.5 billion, this new shopping style seems like a bit more than a flash in the pan.
But, is it anything for retailers to worry about?
Wish and other companies like it sell the idea of cutting the “middlemen” out of retail, by which they mean resellers, those who purchase from overseas merchants and manufacturers, and even Amazon.
Despite a high valuation and growing popularity, direct manufacturer purchasing isn’t something retailers need to worry about too much. Even if Wish keeps shoving itself into customers’ faces on social media.
1. Expectation vs. Reality
If you’ve ever bought something online, you’ve definitely worried about not getting what’s pictured.
Clothes are especially finicky, but anything you buy has the chance to disappoint when it lands on your doorstep.
Companies like Amazon do their best to ensure quality of products, but have had their share of issues. But, as businesses and individuals can sell their own products on Amazon’s platform, it’s near impossible for the ecommerce giant to keep track of everything. As a result, they can’t exactly be held accountable.
Unfortunately, shoppers purchasing directly from manufacturers have often reported low quality, slow-arriving goods.
Take a quick gander at the “Is it BS” thread on Reddit and you’ll find thousands of not-so-great reviews of services like Wish. The discounted prices, many have said, are too good to be true.
That seems to be the main selling point of this new ecommerce “trend.” Low prices are everything, so consumers will definitely sacrifice quality and wait times.
But, as many retailers have realized, that’s simply no longer the case, if it ever was.
2. Money Isn’t Everything
In the past decade, the world has seen retail giants close their doors and board-up their windows.
JC Penney, Macy’s, and Toys ‘R Us are just a few of the more recognizable names falling victim to the apparent retail-pocalypse.
What many fail to realize is that certain retailers are losing, while many continue to thrive. The one-stop-shop department store has fallen out of style, as has the allure of the “cheap.”
While it isn’t always true that higher prices mean better quality, consumers are much more willing to pay than they used to be.
Research has shown time and time again that millennial consumers are willing to pay for goods that were produced sustainably, and with an eye to environmental impact.
On top of that, they’re also willing to pay for a brand. Millennials are the most brand-loyal demographic in history, and have a keen eye for political affiliations, as well as the public image of a company or business they purchase from.
All of this is to say that discounted bikinis and $20 tablets doesn’t mean anyone will buy them. More than that, it simply isn’t a sustainable business model in light of millennial consumer trends.
So, what are shoppers focusing on?
3. Experience Is
Building a brand targeted to millennial shoppers is hard, but it’s not the hardest thing retailers and e-tailers have to do. A few left or right-leaning tweets should do the trick.
What’s really hard is guaranteeing a delightful experience every single time.
According to Oracle and literally everyone else, 81% of shoppers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
That’s a broad concept that means a lot more than low prices.
Customer service spans all types of retailers, and it includes being active on social media to respond to on-the-fly inquiries. An intuitive website and enjoyable shopping experience all add up to a returning shopper.
While Wish and other companies may make it easier to buy direct from manufacturers, a positive experience must be end-to-end. That’s something that this ecommerce trend just can’t deliver on.
Shoppers might get lucky, though. But, at the end of the day, consumers aren’t looking for a lucky break.
Retailers have to be consistent by consistently offering a great experience.
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