When it comes to consumer preferences for online shopping, there’s a gap between their expectations and what retailers and brands are delivering, according to a just-released research report and survey from BrandShop.

The digital commerce solutions firm’s 2015 Digital Consumer Preferences Survey revealed that 82 percent of consumers polled “expect to be able to transact directly with their favorite brands,” which means they expect to go to a brand’s Web site or a direct-to-consumer brand site and make purchases. Moreover, 88 percent said they “prefer it as a trusted alternative to transacting with third-party e-tailers,” the research report noted.

Despite these expectations, there are many brands who do not sell directly to consumers. Reuben Hendell, chief executive officer of BrandShop, said “brands are underinvesting in direct-to-consumer initiatives but are starting to catch up to these changes in the marketplace.”

Regarding the online shopping experience, 18 percent of respondents said they were “highly satisfied” with it, while 10 percent of those polled said they were dissatisfied. “While general levels of satisfaction are moderately high, there exists much room for improvement in the branded shopping experience,” the researchers said.

The survey also showed that consumers are conducting more research online prior to making a purchase while also stepping up the frequency of online shopping.

Of those surveyed, 71 percent said they “shop online at least several times a month.” The researchers said online shopping “has become a new norm for the majority of consumers. Increased Internet access, speed and reliability will only further the online shopping experience, leading to higher levels of transaction frequency.”

In regard to research, 96 percent of respondents said they felt that “research is a crucial step in the shopping experience.”

“It is absolutely imperative for brands and retailers to provide accurate and relevant information about their full line of product offerings,” the report noted. “After all, customer confidence is synonymous with conversion and brand loyalty.”

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