How To Provide A Memorable Online Experience

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November 5, 2020
Jacky Lovato

Take your in-store experience online

As a consequence of the global pandemic, providing an outstanding customer experience has become of the utmost importance for online brands. Retail brands have rapidly adapted their marketing strategies and communication to address ever-changing consumer needs.

Online sales have surely remained profitable, peaking to 161% this May year-on-year. While the statistics indicate a little decrease from May, e-commerce sales numbers are still up by 40% compared to last year, with strong sectors like food and drink, and health and beauty. It is now obvious that the Covid-19 crisis has reshaped not only retailers’ strategies but consumers behaviours, and shoppers who traditionally bought in-store have now turned to online.  A lot of companies have recently started their digital transformation in response to consumers behaviour change to adopt digital channels. Traditional shops that only sold through a physical presence, like Aldi, can now be seen providing online offers such as Click and Collect in an attempt to gain market share. However, it seems like an online presence alone isn’t enough. According to Adobe, 73% of polled consumers thinks a great experience is a key factor in influencing their loyalty towards brands. Thus, to capture their client/consumer attention, retailers must reinvent their online environment to inspire better experiences.   Here are our tips to provide a memorable online shopping experience:  

1. Personalisation is key. Your website should be a reflection of the in-store experience and that includes a smiling shop assistant! So, make sure that you warmly greet and welcome your customers (by name, preferably) as they enter the site. Another important point is to learn about their online behaviour. That means basic elements such as gender, size, and age as well as more refined features; average spend, dwell time, shopping habits and so on. Once you have collected this information, you can strategically segment your database accordingly. Start with basic segmentation, categorising customers based on factors like the order number, frequency, or average basket value. Then, layer combinations to create more advanced segments. When you have segments, tailor your message based on their behaviour. We want to avoid standardised content but prioritise specific message and personal communication.  For example, we may want to encourage buying from low spenders by offering promotions and discounts. If we talk to a high spender, perhaps they’d like to join the community by subscribing to your exclusive newsletter. For those, who never bought from you, why not considering asking them about their tastes and preferences. Or how likely they are to recommend the brand to their friends? The latter will help you understand more about their behaviour and personal experience on your web store. This is an ongoing process and consistency is key! Success lies in continuously gaining more insight into behaviours to answer with the best possible next action.      

2. Guiding new items discovery Having customers physically searching for items is a big advantage for traditional stores. Wandering the aisles, touching the products, being attracted by that one piece that catches your eyes! It’s a fact that browsing pushes impulse purchasing (something we’re all guilty of). Did you know that more than 50% of impulse purchase happen online! That’s good news and certainly a way to boost unplanned purchase hence sales.  Guide product exploration by showing items related to their previous purchase or current basket. You can associate products and make suggestions for products that match. For example, adding a face mask or a clearing lotion for a customer that bought a foundation if you’re a skincare brand. An updated website with real-time stock availabilities is also a good tactic. Apart from being descriptive, it creates a sense of urgency to buy. All you have to do is invest in a technology that uses algorithms to automate these actions. Including free samples in your customers' basket is also a great move which positively impacts brand loyalty and affection.        

3.  Provide the possibility to try items Before the world was hit by the virus, the ability to try on clothes was an incommensurable perk for retailers. New measures have restricted this option and in-store footfall and sales decreased. Various online brands overcome this restriction by providing easy or free returns or even free trials. Others like Klarna turned the situation to their advantage by providing pay later options allowing customers to pay only once they’re happy with their decision. Free/easy returns is a good move to attract new customers as 40% of buyers say it’s a key factor for recommending brands to their entourage. To reduce the likelihood of mass return, you can use the data collected to guide consumers’ purchasing decisions. Asking why they returned an item will provide insight and help you reduce this probability. Also, use the same data, for example, to say that 96% of clients say the item is a perfect fit and boost purchase confidence. If you want to take this further, consider virtual technology and allow people to virtually try on items!        

4. Show that you are here to help Your team must be as responsive as possible. Why not introducing a live chat and allow customers to be answered almost instantly? This can be used as another way to build brand affinity while having a consistent tone of voice. Make talking to a team member an easy and enjoyable experience. Did you know that 93% of individuals want to repeat purchase where there’s outstanding customer service? It’s without a shadow of a doubt an investment that pays off.        

5. Be transparent and convenient Promotions, free delivery, and similar incentives are clearly key determinants that influence customers buying decisions. However, that may not work for every brand. In this case, be honest and transparent, explaining the reason behind your choice. It may be the case if you’re a small business and have to charge for postage fees. Another approach could be setting a minimum order to be eligible for free delivery, 76% of people buy more to get free delivery. Whatever approach you take, make sure that you communicate accordingly and that customers are not faced with unexpected fees down the line! These bad surprises can tarnish their perception of your brand or worse they can feel misled and start looking elsewhere.        

6. Up your online experience game Traditional factors like quality, price and convenience are indeed crucial, but other elements influence the purchase decision. Customers will pay more for brands that share their values and make them feel unique and happy. The global pandemic has obliged businesses to review their online experience. Customers expect deeper levels of immersion and interaction, and even when this crisis stops, this fact won’t. We all want to have a memorable experience. The digital transformation is a boon for all businesses to get closer to their audience, build affinity and loyalty. Why just replicate the in-store experience when you can reimagine it and build strong ties with your community? This may be the only way to prosper and flourish. Where there’s an apparent difficulty, there’s an opportunity!

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