Growing Opportunity, Narrowing Window

Many consumers are gravitating toward higher-quality products and better service, but they’re shopping differently and making decisions much faster.

Research from Synchrony Financial illuminates the importance of outdoor power equipment dealers having a strong online presence. Consumers are spending less time shopping, largely because of the vast amount of research they’re conducting online—especially when it comes to lawn and garden products.

Last summer Synchrony Financial conducted its fifth annual third-party Major Purchase Consumer Study. More than 2,700 consumers were surveyed about their shopping preferences for items costing at least $500 from 13 different product categories—including lawn and garden.

The survey results show that consumers spent an average of 80 days shopping/researching in 2014. That dropped to 68 days in 2015 and even further to 63 days in 2016. Lawn and garden shoppers, specifically, spend even less time researching purchases with an average of 36 days.

“As major purchase shoppers become more decisive, influenced by the amount of information they find online, it is important for retailers to have a strong online presence,” says Ronda Slaven, vice president of research and insights, Synchrony Financial. “Making it easy for shoppers to find the information they are looking for during their search can help ensure that a retailer is part of the major purchase shopper’s consideration set and stays top-of-mind throughout their journey.”

Survey results show that 68% of lawn and garden shoppers report visiting a retailer’s website when conducting research. At the same time, only a little more than half (54%) visited a manufacturer’s website or used a search engine, and just 38% visited a review site.

Mobile matters, as does financing

Having a website today is not enough. The website must also be mobile-friendly. Roughly 82% of lawn and garden shoppers started their research online. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds conducted in-store research and more than one-third used a mobile device at some point during their journey.

Synchrony Financial offers some tips for dealers hoping to leverage the consumer’s mobile experience:

  • Make payment and financing info easy to find
  • Make it easy to apply for credit
  • Consider creating a retail app where shoppers can pre-load credit card info like a digital wallet
  • Enable your POS or terminal to accept mobile wallets.

Promotional financing plays an important role in the shopping experience. While 77% of lawn and garden respondents made their major purchase in-store, 23% made it online. Then, 63% said they “always” seek promotional financing while 78% said they feel that special promotional financing makes larger purchases more affordable.

Additional Synchrony research done in 2016 shows that retailers who integrate credit messaging on their home page, product pages, shopping cart and checkout pages see a higher rate of customer engagement. Retailers can also designate a credit landing page where the card benefits such as promotional financing can be clearly explained with links to apply online.

Promotional financing can help retailers drive website traffic when mentioned in search results, build incremental ticket size (cardholders spent about 30% more than non-cardholders), and close the sale (47% of Synchrony Bank cardholders said they would not have made the purchase or would have gone to another retailer if financing wasn’t available).