Online shopping has made life easier, but it’s also introduced more complexity into the buying process. Customers can eliminate time-sucking errands from their to-do lists, but they can also inadvertently abandon their cart of essentials. That’s why it’s important for online retailers to understand their customers, how they shop, and how they think. Not only will this improve customer satisfaction, but it’ll boost conversion rates and your bottom line.
But the art of simply “making customers happy” is more complex than offering great products at fair prices. Understanding their needs, making things simple, and delighting them at every turn can earn your spot on their favorites list. As more of the world transacts digitally, there will be a lower bar to entry and a higher standard for satisfaction. Build your foundation on the customer experience that provides mutual benefits and you’ll boast the happiest and most reliable customer base.
1. Anticipate Their Needs and Follow-Up
Many of your customers likely spend their days and nights focused on the needs of everyone around them. After a whirlwind day at work, rushing to after-school sports, and whisking everyone to bed, it’s time for a break. That’s where e-commerce sites can have the advantage — the ability to use technology to understand their customer’s core needs.
Get to know your individual customers and the personal groups they belong to. Figure out what similar customers have in common. Observe their buying habits to figure out how you can make it easy to say “yes” to a buy-now offer. Can you automate a repurchase campaign or should you offer subscribe-and-save discounts for essential product lines?
Use technology and opt-in data access to seamlessly follow your customers’ patterns. A customer browsing for shoes on their lunch break soon may abandon their search in favor of a budget meeting. Use retention marketing to follow them across devices when they revisit their search on their phone.
If they lend their phone to a whining toddler, your marketing efforts aren’t lost. Reduce abandonment rates by following up via SMS or email to keep those sharp loafers top of mind. Just because life gets in the way doesn’t mean that you can’t help your customers execute their purchases. Develop a thoughtful retention process that balances the art of follow-up and avoids overwhelming potential customers.
2. Reduce Friction at Every Turn
There’s nothing like a long-overdue coffee date with your best friend. It’s effortless, making even the most soul-baring conversation feel like you could go on for hours. And while catching-up over cappuccinos might feel like a far cry from online sales, you might be surprised.
That feeling of ease experienced while in the company of a friend can be conveyed through online sales. What you’re feeling isn’t something that’s added, rather it’s something that’s been taken away — friction. Like unresolved spats create tension in otherwise sunny friendships, friction is anything in the way of a sale.
Start by auditing your sales funnel to determine if you’ve got rough edges that need smoothing. Your initial review may uncover some obvious fixes, but the real eye-opener is when you’ve got fresh perspectives. Invest in digital mystery shoppers to walk through your site, browse products, and consider a purchase.
If your sales cart doesn’t retain its contents in multiple tabs, you’ll lose customers who love side-by-side comparisons. Get candid, detailed feedback from user testing scenarios that walk through dynamic customer experiences. Log their screen time to identify pain points where users have trouble finding what they’re looking for. Shopping online should be a breeze, so focus on simplifying the user experience to spur higher sales conversions.
3. Deepen Your Relationships to Drive Loyalty
Customers are constantly dodging requests and even demands for their hard-earned dollars. Whether it’s a blaring car commercial claiming closeouts or a barrage of emails from a major chain, customers are exhausted. But this “me-centric” marketing approach leaves mindful retailers with a major opportunity: relationship building. Consider your place in the market and how you can engage with your customers outside of a sales cycle.
For retailers in fashion, look to the seasons and major life events for inspiration. An email series covering upcoming trends, styling tips, and surprising throwbacks is not only fun, but it is helpful. Take it a step further and cite how customers can blend last year’s collection with new releases and closet staples. This blended approach to positioning products alongside the method adds value. And while your customers likely appreciate your quality goods, they’re now getting styling and education to boot.
Another tactic is to use customer-provided data and sales history to mark milestones. In your customer profiles, ask registrants to add more context to who they are. Thinking of our busy parent shopping for shoes, find out who and what reason they’re shopping. Extend congratulations for major events and even a discount for occasions like a new job or nuptial to celebrate together.
When you blend your product offering with your customers’ lives, you become intertwined in their memories. Whether you’re providing complimentary styling for bridesmaid dresses or sending a birthday discount, the more human your approach, the better. Develop rapport with your customers, and you’ll become their go-to because you care about them, not just their money.
Be on the Cutting Edge of Digital Engagement
Your site needs more than eye-pleasing white space. Long-lasting success demands adaptability, as customer needs and expectations change. Stay engaged with customer research and satisfaction throughout the sales cycle to flag warning signs at the start.
Meticulously review sales cycle and site performance data side-by-side and commit a portion of your budget to site enhancements. When you’re aligned with your customer’s needs across product and experience, you’ll earn their loyalty and boost revenue.
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