With the majority of the globe on either an enforced or self-imposed lockdown, a surge has been seen in frequency of online shopping.
It is important to consider that this increase in online shoppers is likely to be a new demographic of shoppers, who may not have experienced purchasing online before. Therefore, the end-to-end online shopping event must be straightforward, helpful and tailored to the individual to encourage a first time purchase, and should demonstrate the reasons why these customers should return again and again.
Great eCommerce experiences are formed through a combination of effective customer segmentation determined by behaviour, demographics and interests, impeccable customer service, a great UX and a fantastic post-sale service.
To be able to properly segment and communicate with your customers you firstly need to establish effective (and compliant) data collection. Well-organised and informed information on your customers can help you tailor experiences for your customers and cater to their individual needs.
The most efficient way to collect and organise your data is through the use of a CRM system - it’s a perfect way to get to know your customers, who they are, how they have been marketed to and how they responded - this will provide you with the tools to help manage the activities around customer engagement to further improve upon the customer experience.
This detailed reporting into how your customers have been marketed to, how they responded, and information about their historic interactions with your online store/ their historic purchases gives you far more opportunities to encourage conversion. You can tap into incredible insight regarding which can inform your future comms strategies, allowing you to tailor your communications to their likes, dislikes, what was effective and what was not.
You might offer the most perfect product, but if your customer experience is anything less than perfect, the customer will not come back.
Companies can utilise order/ support history to help deal with any issues by looking at customers history, any purchase history or historic issues, current purchase status. This helps to reduce resolution times, by removing a lot of the back-and-forward of explaining the issue from the ground up and can lead to a more satisfied customer. Apple enables customers to provide information ahead of a call, meaning the specialist is even better equipped to help the customer come to a resolution.
Onsite UX and personalisation
By going beyond their functional queries and offering product recommendations relevant to their individual shopping histories, you offer a more tailored and enjoyable experience which will naturally increase the chances of their return (as well as increasing your sales). This too can be done using your CRM to manually look at the relevant information and respond appropriately. Or, if you want to remove any guesswork, it can be done with personalization software such as our partners, Salesfire or Nosto, which will automatically analyze the information and automate the recommendations.
Conversational marketing really takes live chat to a new level - helping to guide consumers through the sales funnel through a number of questions tailored to interact like a real-time conversation - this can be manned by representatives or additionally through the use of AI and machine learning.
Many companies are utilizing previously consumer-focused messaging services (Facebook messenger and Whatsapp) to interact with customers and help them along the conversion process.
A more personalised approach to the shopping experience is likely to encourage conversion as people are made to feel more comfortable and it takes part of the task away from the customer, making the conversion process a lot easier. It’s also very similar to an in-store personal shopper, which is a luxury people will pay for and enjoy, in order to look stylish and to find the perfect piece.
The conversation could go a little like this...
Customer: Hi, I am looking to find a pair of shoes to suit my outfit for a party next weekend
Brand rep: Hi, I’m happy to help! What outfit will you be wearing to the party?
Customer: I will be wearing a pair of black skinny jeans and a grey blouse-style top
Brand rep: Sounds lovely! Are you looking for heels, or a more casual shoe?
Customer: Definitely heels I think.
Brand rep: Great! One last question - would you like to make a bold statement or do you think you would prefer a more ‘elegant’ style?
Customer: I’d like to make a statement!
Customer: The third pair is just what I was after!
Post sale experience
It’s common knowledge that it’s far easier, and cheaper, to encourage conversion from returning visitors than it is to acquire new customers - but how many retailers really focus on their retention strategy over acquisition? Research carried out by Frederick Riechheld of Bain & company reported that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% could increase annual profits by over 25%.
Customer retention can be encouraged through loyalty programs, the opportunity to pay via finance and presenting customers with fast, free or flexible delivery options on site, but to truly maximise this and to provide the end-to-end experience, retailers must focus on providing an impeccable post sale follow up.
Communication is the biggest factor here - following the order confirmation, customers like to be kept in the loop. This doesn’t have to be over-complicated, simply following up at each stage of the delivery process is perfect (confirmation, dispatch, tracking if possible, updates on any potential delays, delivery). Allowing your customers to track their orders can be crucial, especially on higher value orders, to give your customers peace of mind. SMS notifications can also be incredibly effective to provide an extra level of communication - especially if people are on the go and checking their emails less frequently - you can learn more about Visualsoft’s SMS service here.
Being thoroughly committed to refunds, repairs and warranties (where appropriate) can help reduce post-purchase anxiety for your customer - information into these policies should be made easily accessible on the site, particularly from your product pages. Providing this transparency helps to build trust with your customers by showing that you’re not purely focused on sales, but their entire experience with your product.
In a similar theme, the provision of how-to guides either online in PDF format or within your delivered package will make using your product far easier and will take out any guesswork for the customer.
If you sell products with a shelf life, particularly in the food and drinks or health and beauty industry, consider sending your customer a replenishment reminder a week or so before the product is likely to run out through use (or expiration date) to prompt them to re-purchase.
Creating that memorable post-purchase experience will really solidify consumer confidence in your brand, encouraging them to return time and time again.
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