Shopping as we know it has taken the internet by the storm.
From visiting hundreds of shops and searching for that one perfect dress to researching and buying 10 dresses in a minute.
From waiting in line for hours to get to the changing room to trying stuff in the comfort of your home.
From paying the full MRP to availing fantastic discounts and deals.
Online shopping has transformed the concept of shop till you drop to shop till you can’t ‘click no more.’
More and more customers today are willing to buy stuff online. In fact, even the data paints an encouraging picture:
- Data by Bizfeel claims that around 57% of customers prefer shopping online
- According to research, some of the most important factors that are driving E-Commerce purchases include the ability to shop 24/7 (32%), lower prices (29%), greater convenient (22%), and saved time (17%).
- Data by Tinuiti demonstrates that around 67% of millennials tend to shop online and end up spending about 6 hours per week online.
Looking at these numbers, it doesn’t take a genius to do the math. Online shopping is gaining traction and a loyal fan base with every single purchase.
So, it only makes business and logical sense to understand how e-commerce companies can influence purchase decisions and convert offline window shoppers to online shopaholics.
Here are six tried-and-tested strategies that help to make a purchase decision faster and also ensures customer satisfaction:
1. Influence Purchase Decision By Smooth Product Navigation
Research by Salesforce predicts that around 80% of customers feel that the experience a company delivers is as important as its products and services.
So, if you’re not offering a seamless experience, you can say goodbye to your customers.
This is a part of the consumer purchase decision process.
Getting straight to the point, ensuring smooth navigation on your website more than pays for itself in many ways:
- It ensures that the customers don’t get lost (literally) while browsing for their favorite products.
- It ensures a seamless and hassle-free shopping experience leading to a happy customer.
So, the real question then becomes how can you create a website that effectively demonstrates the company’s offerings without confusing or overwhelming the user. Here’s how:
- Integrating an inbuilt ‘Smart Search’ facility that completes a user’s search as the brand, Under Armour, does on its website (as shown below). The moment a user types “Women,” a host of related products appear for the user to choose from. Here is an example:
- Narrowing the product offering’s breadth by creating a cluster and adding relevant categories as the Tech Giant Apple demonstrates below. As you can see, the various categories (iPad, Watch, TV, etc.) are neatly categorized on the website:
Here is another brand, Spy Guy, allows users to “Shop by category” or “Shop by concern”:
If you want to deliver a more intuitive and evolved customer experience to your users, integrating the smart-search capability is a must!
Plus, remember that you can extract meaningful insights and target users more effectively by simply looking at the way they search and understanding their buying behavior.
2. Help Making Purchase Decision By Recommender System
If there’s one thing you need for a personalized shopping feed, it’s the integration of a ‘Recommender System.’
What’s that you ask?
Basically, it’s an algorithm-based information filtering system that suggests relevant items/products/services to the users.
Think of phrases such as “Recommended For You,” “Frequently Bought Together,” etc. that you’ve seen across multiple online platforms which do the job of enticing the customer as unobtrusively as possible.
Multiple brands achieve this in style:
- Amazon’s “Recommended for You” Section:
- Lush takes it one step further by penning down a more personal and informal “We think you’ll love” section:
- H&M’s “Others also bought” section which suggests relevant items for a pleated skirt, based on the user’s previous interest/purchase:
- Blue Nile utilizes an effective product recommendation engine to send its customers recommendations for highly customized products on the basis of the user’s purchase history, buying behavior, interests, needs, etc.:
One of the best ways to ensure repeat purchases or repeat interaction is by using a Recommender System on your website as effectively as brands such as Netflix, Youtube, Tinder, and Amazon do.
Typically, there are three types of filtering you can use: Collaborative, Content-Based, or Hybrid (a combination of both).
The best part is that you can extract and study your buyer’s interactions on the website and use inputs from the recommender system to send personalized emails and newsletters.
3. Offer Real-Time Support & Guidance For Better Purchase Decision
According to Forrester- “Around 44% of online customers consider live chat as one of the most important features of any e-commerce site.”
They say a chat is worth a thousand emails, and rightly so. Since customers can’t physically visit the store and ask an assistant, your platform needs to double up as the guide. Enter: Live Chat.
Live chat tool ensures the following benefits for an e-commerce brand:
- Immediate query resolution and 24/7 help.
- A simpler and easier way to access the company as opposed to waiting for an email response or call back over the phone.
- Ability to interact with numerous customers and multitask while catering to a wider audience.
- Opportunity to study chat history to measure performance and track progress.
That said, let’s look at some of the live chat best practices to integrate on your website and drive customer interactions as well as sales:
- Ideally, try to place your live chat window in the right-hand corner of the web page. Here is an example from Acquire IO-
- Get proactive and reach out to the customer before they spell out their issues to gain their confidence and trust.
- Set up an efficient redirect mechanism and redirect to a human agent in cases of complex issues and concerns. Here is another example from Acquire IO-
- Integrate CRM with live chat features and ensure that your response time is as low as 2 seconds.
According to research, a staggering 85% of customers are open to having conversations with chatbots.
So why not give them what they want?
After all, in the case of e-commerce, inaction can lead to a missed lead which is worse than speaking to the wrong target audience.
So, be proactive and reach out to your customers by using live chat features and help them to make the purchase decision.
4. Use Co-Browsing To Leverage The Purchase Decision Process
Extensive research has been done to identify some of the intrinsic reasons for shopping cart abandonment. These can be attributed to:
- Added costs, like taxes, shipping, and fees (60%).
- A complicated or drawn-out checkout process (28%).
Surprisingly, further research claims that e-commerce companies gain as much as $260 billion by simply enhancing their checkout processes.
That’s one way to go about it like the brand, Fallen Hero, demonstrates:
- No registration: Check
- One-step checkout process: Check
- Clean pages and a simple form: Check
- Zero unnecessary distractions: Check
Another brand worth looking at for their simplified checkout process is Hunter, which prominently highlights all the self-help or customer care options available at the customer’s disposal:
Moving on, the other thing to consider is integrating the all-powerful co-browsing software to guide customers who need all kinds of help during their e-commerce purchase cycle.
Here are some issues customers face and how co-browsing can help address the same:
Issue: Customers getting stuck at the payment gateway page due to fear of inserting credit card details or the inability to understand the payment procedure.
Solution: A step-by-step guide definitely helps to assist the user in any concerns they may have:
Issue: A user is seen visiting the same section again and again, but the purchase doesn’t go through.
Solution: Kickstarting the conversation by asking the user if they need any help as shown below:
Co-browsing is as good as (if not better than) face-to-face assistance as it helps drive instant conversions and address customer queries at the right time.
Plus, it allows the customer and the brand to be on the same page both literally and figuratively.
This ensures greater trust and loyalty between the brand and the user.
Thus, it becomes more easy for them to make the purchase decision.
5. Authentic Videos + User-Oriented Product Reviews = Concreate Purchase Decision
According to Kissmetrics- “Website visitors who view a product video are up to 85% more likely on average to purchase that product.”
“Viewing products up, close, and personal is not helpful,” said no customer ever.
Since users can’t really touch or feel the products online, it helps to show them the offering as realistically as possible.
Here’s how you can convert your online virtual platform into a stellar offline showroom:
A. Publish videos to guide users related to the e-commerce store purchase or the product in question as Apple does in a “How-to” video to showcase the product’s features in an ingenious manner:
B. Create creative unboxing videos of newly-launched products infusing the brand’s personality in the content and images to influence users into buying them. Niche beauty brand Birchbox has effectively influenced millions of viewers to check out their offerings and ensure that their sales-game is as strong as ever:
According to Google, unboxing videos have amassed more than 10.3 billion views up to that date.
For all intents and purposes, brand-oriented videos, unboxing videos, product-centric videos, How-to videos, etc.
communicate your brand’s story in the most exciting and creative ways possible.
Plus, they help pique the customer’s interest in the product/service in question and drive them to log on to the website without a shadow of a doubt.
And, of course, if the video is made well, it can go viral within seconds – best case of effortless marketing if you ask us!
6. Get Real Customer Feedback To Influence Purchase Decision Process
Think of a customer feedback program as those yearly exams you had to take to track your progress.
Until the user marks/grades your product/service, you’ll never truly understand the potential of your offering and take effective measures to correct it.
Here are some interesting ways to capture a customer’s feedback:
Live chat feedback post a conversation:
- Nordstorm’s “Give Us Feedback” section on the website as shown below:
- Sephora’s website survey by offering an exciting gift card to entice them to complete the questions:
- Airbnb’s feedback mail which clearly states how long the survey will take:
If delivering a more personalized, transparent, and authentic customer experience is on your laundry list, it’s time to give your customers more power.
Let them air their concerns and talk about their experiences across every brand-consumer touchpoint.
All in all, make the online shopping experience ‘personal’ and let your customers take center stage while you work on the insights extracted and outdo your own personal benchmark.
Closing Thoughts: The Joy of Shopping Online aka JOSO
“It’s an ‘Add to Cart’ kinda day” is perhaps everyone’s solution to life’s big problems, as well as the small inconveniences.
And why not? Shopping is therapeutic.
Just add ‘online’ to the mix and you’ve got convenience-driven retail therapy that offers instant gratification.
The bottom line is this: Whether it’s “showrooming” (where customers visit a showroom and buy the same stuff online) or “we-brooming,” (where customers browse products online but go to the nearby store to buy it), online shopping is here to stay.
The only issue that’s up for debate when it comes to online shopping is – how much is enough? The answer: Your guess is as good as ours at this point.