The rise in ownership of connected devices is driving the growth of e-commerce. With more and more people turning to their mobile devices to research and make purchases, online transactions are forecast to reach $25 trillion by American Express*. But can the online environment ever truly match the experience of buying in-store? We think it can, and here are some tips on how to achieve it.
All the elements of service come into sharper focus when buying without the sales associate, meaning e-tailers need to provide the perfect experience. One mistake and a potential customer simply begins another search. Assess every stage of the shopping process – from browsing products to finalising payment – to ensure it’s a simple, fluid experience.
Stores have the benefit of a branded personal service which allows them to compensate when something goes wrong, and to add personality to the buying experience. Online retailers have tried to offer the personal element with online chat, but this often feels clunky and obtrusive.
Amazon’s solution is its Mayday button, which allows Kindle users to connect live to a representative within 15 seconds. As the service is only activated at the user’s request, it doesn’t invade their online shop. Not every brand can offer this level of support, but customers transfer their expectations from one brand across to others quickly, so be warned!
In the virtual world, loyalty is hard to win, and easy to lose – especially when any number of competitors are just a click away. This means it’s vital to give customers reasons to be loyal. Offer incentives to return and shop, and provide consistently excellent service. Delivery that customers can control has become a major selling point – and people don’t expect to pay for it.
The biggest challenge faced by retailers is how to convert browsers into buyers. In the online world we have the benefit of data throughout the purchase journey to provide useful clues as to why people haven’t checked out. Analyze abandoned baskets to understand where it happens in the customer journey and how to fix it. Consider offering a time-bound offer to encourage buying in the next five minutes, for example.
Retailing online is more than offering competitive prices – it requires investment to deliver service excellence to compete with the experience in-store. Consider the lifetime value of a returning customer and focus resource on keeping and upselling to those people, as well as attracting new customers.