5 MIN READ
There’s no question that customer demands and expectations are higher than ever when it comes to buying online. We are finding that this is persuading retailers to get back to basics and focus on creating better websites and more convenient buying journeys.
So how can you create a more memorable experience for your customers and keep them coming back for more?
Personalisation & Customer Engagement
Creating a personalised experience will be key to increasing engagement and remaining competitive this year. To better meet the needs of their customers, retailers should try to replicate certain elements of the in-store experience online:
Product Imagery: Due to the remote nature of eCommerce, it’s often hard for customers to fully visualise what they’re buying. 360 degree product imagery and demonstration videos help to give customers a more comprehensive overview of a product’s features and benefits. This will either give the customer more confidence that they are buying the right product, increasing conversion rate, or confirm that it’s the wrong product, reducing product returns.
Product Recommendations: Personalised product recommendations based on search queries, page visits and previous purchase history help guide users towards the products that are most relevant to them in the same way as an in-store sales assistance might try to help a customer find what they are looking for. A previously-viewed-products area will allow users to easily navigate back once they’ve considered their choices.
Single Customer View: So that retailers are able to engage with customers in a more meaningful way, it’s crucial that customer data from all sales channels is shared across the entire business. For example, if a customer has viewed a product on your website but then gone on to purchase it in-store, they don’t want bombarding with emails and remarketing banners asking them to buy the product that they’ve already bought. Similarly, if marketing teams are made aware of the in-store purchase, email and remarketing could be used to upsell complementary products.
Chatbots: Online shoppers have previously missed out on the ability to get instant answers to their questions from sales staff. Most eCommerce sites now offer a live chat option, however this is usually only available during office hours meaning that the majority of customers are left waiting for a reply to their email. In 2019 we’ll see chatbots, with friendly brand mascots, becoming more and more commonplace. Available 24/7/365 chatbots are becoming more sophisticated and can already help assist with product information, recommendations, customer service information and helping users to checkout.
For the past couple of years web developers have been thinking more about how page layouts and elements can impact the customer buying journey.
Cutting out the clutter to create minimal designs will not only speed up the loading of web pages but will prevent distractions and help customers to navigate your website more easily. With more white space on your eCommerce site, colours can be used to evoke emotion and increase confidence in your brand and products.
Using micro-interactions such a hover triggers and feedback animations will help to differentiate your brand and delight your customers, creating a memorable shopping experience. Today’s customers are easily frustrated and have little patience – if they’re waiting for a page to load, make it clear that the page is being loaded. If they’re filling out a form, show them progress bars and highlight any population issues before they press submit.
Mobile visits have surpassed desktop for the past few years now so don’t forget to create a thumb-friendly navigation. Think about how to make it easier for users to complete the buying journey with their thumb. Main menus, product filters and “add to basket” buttons are all increasingly being added to the “thumb zone” so that they are easier to reach on mobile devices.
Delivery Choice & Flexibility
Key to remaining competitive this year, you need to be providing your customers with choice and flexibility when it comes to delivery.
Better delivery options are now the second biggest factor why consumers choose one online retailer over their competitors
Make sure that you’re negotiating with your delivery partners on a regular basis. Free delivery thresholds and next day delivery have become the norm, with many competitive retailers now offering delivery slot choices and same-day delivery. The more orders you’re shipping, the better rates you’ll be able to get so make sure you’re reviewing courier options as you grow. A courier that might have been too expensive in the past might be the perfect fit for your business this year or next.
Offering annual delivery subscriptions can often help to offset the cost of offering free delivery. Rather than paying the delivery charge for their order, customers are encouraged to pay a larger amount with the guarantee of free delivery for a whole year. And as the customer has already paid upfront and wants to get their money’s worth, you’re more likely to be their first choice when ordering products throughout the year. It’s a win-win for both retailers and their customers. This is working particularly well for luxury retailers like Selfridges who have a big international following – their Selfridges+ global delivery charge of £40 per year seems far better value than £25 per order.
Once you’ve offered your customers choice and flexibility, you need to make sure that you’re following through on your promises. Make sure you have the right internal processes in place to make the dispatch process more efficient and make sure you’re utilising new technology like RFID which will help to quickly identify lost products in large warehouses and prevent overselling.
Alternative Payment Methods
Providing customers with as much choice as possible at the checkout can help give retailers the edge over their competitors. Digital payment methods such as PayPal, Amazon Pay and Apple Pay, give customers a quick and convenient way to checkout in just a few clicks without having to fill out lengthy forms – something particularly useful when shopping on the go.
For customers who don’t want to wait until payday to place their order with you, offering “buy now, pay later” options such as Klarna and V12 can help secure the sale and prevent them heading over to one of your competitors sites.
In 2019, 55% of all online transactions are predicted to be made using alternative payment methods.
If you’re selling to international customers, make sure that you’re providing them with their favourite payment methods. Rather than paying with debit or credit cards, German customers prefer to use payment systems like GiroPay and SoFort. And if you’re selling to customers in China, where credit cards have never gained popularity, you need to be providing AliPay and WeChat as options.
Mobile payments have become so common in China that paying with cash is practically unheard-of, even with street performers and taxi drivers.
– Business Insider
3rd April 2019