Online buying; is there a difference between home improvement products and other products?
A lot of information can be found on online buying of general products. However, not much is known about the online purchases of home improvement products. I have already written some articles on which home improvement products are bought more online, where consumers buy online and what percentage of all home improvement products are bought online. Now, I would like to focus on the perception of the consumers. Is there a difference between ordering home improvement products online and if so, what are the perceived difficulties? In this article I will compare some of the results of the European Home Improvement Monitor (quarterly monitor covering 11 European countries based on 26,400 interviews annually) for the UK and Denmark.
UK vs Denmark
There is clear difference between the opinion of consumers in the UK and the consumers in Denmark. The majority of consumers in the UK (51%) don’t think there is a difference between ordering home improvement products and other types of products online. Around 28% of the DIY consumers in the UK do think there is a difference. For Denmark, the groups are more equally divided. Around 38% of the DIY consumers in Denmark think there is a difference between ordering home improvement products and other types of products online and 35% of the DIY consumers don’t think there is a difference products online.
Reasons for perceived differences in ordering online
When we focus on the DIY consumers that think there is a difference between ordering home improvement products and other types of products online, the top 4 reasons are the same in both countries. However the ranking of these perceived differences does vary.
Top 4 perceived difficulties in the UK
In the UK the most important perceived difference when ordering home improvement products online vs other types of products are:
- The consumer needs to see and/or feel the product (57%)
- More difficulties in making a decision where to buy (35%)
- The need for personal advice (28%)
- Smaller offering of products online (13%)
In Denmark the most important perceived difference when ordering home improvement products online vs other types of products are:
Top 4 perceived difficulties in Denmark
- The consumer needs to see and/or feel the product (53%)
- The need for personal advice (42%)
- More difficulties in making a decision where to buy (40%)
- Smaller offering of products online (14%)
These perceived difficulties correlate with the trend towards showrooming (see in store, buy online). This is also clearly an area where e-commerce sites can continue to improve, for example by the way items are displayed, customer service interaction, virtual reality and/or 3D representations.
For DIY retailers with a strong physical presence, these perceived difficulties can provide opportunities. However, it can also lead to showrooming, which is obviously hurting their sales. Having a very good in-store experience and enough staff is vital, but only if customers can be persuaded to buy the products on-site (instead of going home and ordering online).
Furthermore, developing apps and providing a digital experience in-store (like Leroy Merlin successfully did with their Pricer platform for automated product positioning in their mobile shopper application and store kiosks) might prove an effective way to increase sales. Another interesting development we see in the market right now is a bigger focus on experience stores. These DIY stores have room for testing products and display products much more similar like the furniture stores.
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