What Role Does Loyalty Play in Online Shopping?


Customer loyalty has historically been formed largely through face-to-face interactions. However, with the advent of online shopping, retailers have found it significantly harder to build brand loyalty, instead focusing on factors such as product selection, convenience and lower prices to drive revenue.

 

There’s no doubt that ecommerce channels present many advantages to retailers and consumers alike, particularly given the rise of mobile and the added accessibility and convenience it brings. At the same time, being spoiled for choice has also had its effect on the consumer market – there is now so much competition that it’s easier to lose customers than ever before.

 

Transforming new customers into brand ambassadors can be challenging when you’re working with a medium as impersonal as ecommerce. Nonetheless, by guaranteeing customer satisfaction and taking steps to acquire their trust, you’ll be in a better position to turn a new customer into someone who will happily spread the good word about your business through social networks and other platforms.

 

Customer Loyalty Is Declining

 

Being spoiled for choice in an often extremely competitive marketplace, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that customer loyalty is dropping steadily. In fact, conversion rates have dropped by 28% in the last seven years. The rapid rise of comparison shopping and the relative ease of finding alternatives online have also made it more difficult for brands to hold onto existing customers. As such, many consumers don’t even consider brand loyalty to be a significant factor in their purchase decisions.

 

To overcome this trend, retailers need to work harder to better accommodate their customers through personalized loyalty programmes and excellent online content. After all, no longer is customer loyalty just about face-to-face interactions and competitive prices.

 

How Mobile Commerce Influences Customer Loyalty

 

Mobile commerce is rapidly catching up with desktop commerce, with more than 40% of online transactions now occurring on the small screen. Online stores that don’t provide an optimal experience on smartphones will likely be losing out on a great deal of potential revenue. Additionally, some digital loyalty programmes are not nearly as effective as they’re only tailored towards desktop users, or those using physical loyalty cards.

 

Studies show that 70% of consumers will develop a better impression of a company that allows them to save a loyalty card to their smartphone. From the consumer’s perspective, mobile loyalty programmes are far more convenient, since they can present things like personalized discount cards and digital loyalty cards in-store rather than having to print something out or carry around an additional card.

 

The same study also found that 83% of consumers appreciate a personalized approach whereby they receive specific rewards and promotions for events such as birthdays and anniversaries. By demonstrating to new customers that you’re aware of their individual needs and desires, you’ll be in a much better position to retain their business. If, on the other hand, a customer feels like nothing more than just another sales statistic, they’re not likely to feel any sense of loyalty to your business.

 

The Importance of Online Content for Building Brand Loyalty

 

One of the biggest challenges with building a highly visible online brand is getting heard amongst all the noise. However, according to NewsCred Insights, 62% of millennial consumers consider meaningful online content to be a major driver in brand loyalty. Every day, millions of people, particularly those belonging to the millennial generation, turn to the web to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. That’s why content marketing, especially social media, have become so important. Nonetheless, many companies have yet to embrace the potential of quality, engaging and relevant content to increase their brand’s visibility and influence.

 

Millennials generally aren’t interested in receiving sales messages, hence the rapid decline of traditional advertising in recent years. Instead, they want actionable content in a variety of formats, such as social media updates and blog posts, that helps them to fulfil their goals.

 

Building an ecommerce empire is no longer about sending sales messages – it’s about building loyalty through a strong, consistent and genuinely helpful online presence. From personalised loyalty rewards to value-adding content, online retailers need to do everything they can to build and retain audiences in an increasingly crowded marketplace. It’s about a two-way, engaged conversation between retailers and customers.  

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Mobile Ecommerce Trends – What Are the Numbers Telling Us


While adopting a mobile-first approach may require an extensive overhaul of your website, the benefits are undisputable. Thanks to the increasing ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, interactions with potential and existing customers can happen anywhere at any time instead of being restricted to the desktop.

 

Mobile traffic overtook the desktop around three years ago, and around 90% of consumers now keep their smartphones with them around the clock. The mobile share of the ecommerce industry continues to skyrocket, profoundly effecting the industry to the extent businesses are now more likely to talk about ‘m-commerce’ rather than e-commerce. Mobile is now the defining platform of the online shopping experience, as these trends and statistics prove:

 

Ecommerce Sales

Just a few years ago, using a smartphone for online shopping was fraught with frustration as consumers struggled to navigate the average website on the small screen. Today, mobile accounts for well over half of all web traffic, and more than 40% of e-commerce transactions now take place on smartphones or tablets. From the consumer’s perspective, mobile is more convenient for shopping, since they can browse online stores, add items to shopping carts and make payments no matter where they are.

 

Shopping Cart Abandonment

People abandon online shopping carts for all sorts of reasons, such as a lack of preferred payment and delivery options. However, easily one of the biggest impacts on shopping cart abandonment is the user experience. Try navigating an online store that’s designed primarily for use on a desktop device, and you’ll quickly see how fiddly and frustrating the experience can be. Nonetheless, despite the unprecedented rise of mobile, many e-commerce stores are still woefully outdated when it comes to user interface and functionality.

 

Studies show that almost a third of mobile shoppers will abandon their shopping carts if the experience isn’t optimized for the small screen. Given the fact that mobile commerce is growing, this clearly isn’t an opportunity that retailers can afford to miss out on.

 

Buyer Journey

Online shopping has very much become an omnichannel experience, and while desktop devices aren’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future, there are now more ways to access the web than ever before. Mobile now plays an important role at every stage of the buyer journey from initial discovery to making a transaction. In fact, the latest statistics show that sixty percent of consumers have made a purchase on a mobile device, either to pick up an item in store or order online.

 

What this statistic demonstrates is that different people like to shop in an increasing number of different ways. For example, many consumers still use mobile devices only for initial research, hence the growing popularity of mobile-friendly comparison shopping, while leaving transactions themselves to desktop devices. Others, however, prefer to use the mobile for the entire buyer journey right up to making an order. In fact, the mobile-only consumer, who doesn’t even use a desktop device, is rapidly becoming commonplace.

 

Black Friday Sales

Despite being an American tradition, Black Friday sales are rapidly gaining ground in the UK and elsewhere in the world. In the US last year, shoppers spent $3.34 billion on online shopping during Black Friday, with $1.2 billion worth of those transactions taking place on mobile devices. That presents a 33% increase over the previous year, yet again exemplifying the fact that mobile commerce is already a big thing.

 

Online shopping is now an omnichannel experience with a strong focus on the availability and convenience afforded by mobile devices.

Extending analytics to the web: moving from in-store to online


In a time when we all struggle to have more time to ourselves, having the option of doing your weekly shopping without the need to travel to a store, is priceless. However, many retailers are not using analytics effectively to enhance the shopper’s experience throughout their online channels; missing a great opportunity that could enable them to provide a more personalised service. In fact, through the use of their martech (marketing technology) solutions, traditional retail outlets can enhance their online store conversion rates by taking into account some useful insights:

 

Personalising the experience

When customers are visiting a shop, retailers can always count on their shopping assistants to help buyers through their journey: from finding a particular brand or product in an aisle to answering any questions they might have.

At home, this experience can be lost online, so what can retailers do to differentiate themselves from others and make the customer shopping experience enjoyable?

Personalising the experience as much as possible can be the key to achieve this. Identifying new customers vs existing ones can help online retailers to tailor their services in the most effective way. For example, in the case of a returning customer, data can be tracked in order to know what their preferences are when they buy and show particular recommendations when revisiting the site based on data from their last visit. A new customer would require a different experience, as initially there is not enough data from them to be tracked, so offering a quick guide through the website or asking a few questions could help the retailer discover what the customer is looking for.

 

Staying relevant throughout the entire customer journey

It’s important to ensure your customer doesn’t lose interest throughout their buying journey. Don’t just entice them into your site, make sure you keep them. Do you track analytics for where customers most often leave the site? Analysing this type of information can help you to rearrange parts of the website so that the customer journey is improved. For example, before they check out, what can you do to increase their average spend value by offering add-ons to match with their product selection.

Additionally, how do you currently handle abandoned cart customers? Through the use of analytics, you can check when a customer has decided to leave your site: after tracking the particular selection of products they last viewed, you may be able to contact customers to remind them that they haven’t completed their last purchase, or send them an offer to encourage them to return and buy.

Tracking all data

Retailers are often not gathering enough information about their customers during the buyer journey. Moreover, knowing how a customer came to your website in the first place is key when deciding where to invest your energy and marketing budget, and tracking data more closely will help you with this.

Are your customers coming to you directly? Are they visiting you because they were looking for a particular product or location, or are they coming from Google? Is your AdWords budget a good investment? Or are customers coming to you because their favourite blogger has recommended your product? Learning which sources have the highest conversion rates will help you to tailor your marketing strategy, attract more customers in the future and ultimately enhance your service and the buying journey.

Analysing all that data could enable retailers to pre-empt customer demand; for example, depending on your customer’s buying patterns (when they usually buy, their previous requested delivery times and dates), specific delivery slots could be directly suggested to them without them having to go through all the available slots. Or, your site could send out timely reminders about certain products they regularly buy to encourage a follow-up purchase.

 

In short, more sophisticated e-commerce data analytics collection is a way for retailers to increase sales through gaining a better awareness of your customer. The sooner you fully incorporate them into your martech strategy and use that data to make informed commercial decisions, the sooner you will be able to increase your sales whilst providing the best service to your customer; creating a win-win situation for both of you.

 

 

 

References:

(1)    https://blog.kissmetrics.com/the-8-most-important-conversion-metrics-you-should-be-tracking/

(2)    http://www.cmo.com.au/article/612861/gartner-how-cmos-will-spend-more-technology-than-cios-2017/

 

How is Artificial Intelligence Shaking Up Retail?


Buying experiences, both in offline and online channels, can vary dramatically between retailers as vendors approach the customer journey in different ways. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming a common tool used across the retail sector; being incorporated both into online and offline channels with the goal of enhancing customer experience or increasing conversion rates. AI is starting to shake up the retail sector and there are many different ways in which AI could be used in the future to increase retailers’ revenues and improve customer experience levels. As AI increases its presence, the question that lies ahead is: will it change how retail operates forever?

 

Enhancing the in-store experience through AI

Smartphones are our constant companion when we shop; it doesn’t matter if we are browsing the aisles or trying something on, they are always there with us. So, how can retailers take advantage of this to enhance customers’ experience when in store?

Providing information in-store through smartphones could be the starting point. Having the possibility of checking if there’s more stock of a certain product, using QR codes could speed up the buying process. Less time spent by the shopping assistant checking stock availability means more time dedicated to advising the customer on other products to buy, enhancing the customer experience and increasing the rate of sale.

Another opportunity arises for retailers to use AI to improve the in-store experience by giving the customer the possibility of checking how the whole range of other colours or sizes for each product would look on them. This is already being done by Rebecca Minkoff in New York; providing customers with smart dressing rooms that allow shoppers to interact with a display screen (1), enabling them to carry out other activities from their smartphone like adjusting the lighting of the dressing room itself or even asking for assistance without having to go outside. 

 

Increasing conversions online with AI

Improving the in-store experience is a powerful way to foster customer loyalty, so what can retailers do to replicate this experience online? Using AI powered virtual assistants like chat bots could help to replicate this personalised experience by guiding the customer through the purchase process and answering any questions along the way.

Luxury or complex goods in particular highly benefit from the use of AI in the online buying process as customers tend to have a number of questions when buying these types of products as they want to be reassured they are making the right choice. On many occasions, in the modern high-street shop, shopping assistants often lack specialised product knowledge to be able to help the customer effectively. If these types of stores want to up their game online, having an AI chatbot that can advise the customer on particular product information, whilst answering any concerns, cannot only enhance the shopper’s experience but also increase conversion rates.

By learning how people buy and make appropriate product recommendations after analysing how they interact with your site and engage with your products, AI tools can increase the average value spent by each customer by choosing carefully selected product recommendations.

 

Staying in touch

Social media can also become a data hub for AI platforms. By engaging with customers’ social media, AI technology can learn what customers like and dislike, their buying habits, and other types of information that can be used to make personalised recommendations about specific products; these recommendations can be made at the right time, and, at the right place. In other words, data mining can help retailers to get to know their customers much better and as a consequence, provide them with an improved and more personalised service. AI tools enable retailers to learn about individuals en masse and make well-timed offers that are personalised based on what information they share online.

By learning in depth about customer behaviour, AI technology can help by developing reminders to buy, following abandoned carts, discovering the optimum time to position a product, or knowing when to drop or raise priced.  This enables retailers to stay in touch with customers without constantly bombarding them with information, and thanks to the use of AI and data mining tools, retailers can engage with their customers at the right time and place, without the risk of overwhelming them.

 

AI technology can bring personalised marketing one step further by helping retailers to get to know customers in depth and learning about their individual buying habits, offering products to customers at the best time. Using AI, retailers can optimise both online and offline channels, enhancing customers’ experience at the same time as improving conversion rates.  

 

 

References

(1)   http://multichannelmerchant.com/ecommerce/how-retailers-are-redefining-the-shopping-experience-26012017/

(2)   https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/288098

(3)   http://www.adweek.com/digital/5-bleeding-edge-brands-are-infusing-retail-artificial-intelligence-175312/

 

Are shipping fees costing you customers?


Online retailers are becoming incredibly sophisticated in their ability to impact conversion rates based on hundreds of different variables.  New technologies allow purchase screens to be customised based on user data (i.e. where a customer is purchasing from, time on site, location, previously browsed items, etc.), meaning that e-retailers can be super-specific in their targeting to increase conversion rates.

There’s already been a lot of work done to get the customer to the stage where they are ready to click “add to basket”.  You’ve attracted customers to your site, you’ve encouraged them to commit to a product, and it’s in their virtual basket – ready to be purchased.

So what is stopping customers from moving forward to complete the purchase?

It’s all comes down to one decision – to buy or not to buy.  Psychology sits at the heart of these decisions, and understanding the reason for your abandoned cart rates can help you to break down the psychological barriers that are stopping customers moving forward.

In a report from UPS (1), the number one reason for abandoned carts globally was that shipping costs increased the overall purchase price more than expected.  If we think of the psychological process at play here: customers firstly decide on a product, are happy with its price and features, and then add the product to their basket.  The customer is mentally calculating the overall price as they add their different products to their basket.  They then move forward to complete their order and shipping costs get added.  The price is more than they were expecting.  Or maybe it is the price they expected but mentally it pushes the overall basket value above their desired purchase price.

And this is enough for customers to abandon their cart and leave their items.

One factor that could be causing the high rates of abandoned carts is that customers are testing the shipping costs and how they will be applied to their purchase.  The cart isn’t really abandoned as it was never a serious purchase – it was an elaborate calculator to help gauge the shipping costs.

Even removing this factor, the addition of shipping costs is still a blocker for customers moving ahead with their purchase.  So what can you do to step in and impact the psychology of your buyer so the sale has a higher chance of moving ahead successfully?

How could retailers address this issue earlier?

Is it an option to try and put this (even potentially unattractive) shipping time and cost information upfront so that customers are not surprised when they see shipping costs added?  Could shipping costs be added to the basket subtotal when any items are added so that the increased cost is not a late addition to the purchase journey?

The other option is offering free shipping and removing shipping costs altogether.  This could put a strain on profit margins, but it might be a worthwhile activity to calculate the cost of abandoned carts to the business – i.e. what revenues would you have achieved if even just 10% of those customers had completed their purchased, and compare that to the cost of offering free shipping costs to all customers.

If this is a psychological blocker that is preventing customers from buying then increasing product costs ever so slightly across the board to account for the cost of offering free shipping could mean the difference between high rates of abandoned carts and winning lots of new customers.

In Europe, 49% of consumers abandoned their cart because shipping costs were too high (which is actually lower than the averages in the US at 54% and Canada at 61%).  Sometimes this is because orders haven’t been large enough to result in free shipping qualification.

Is the problem actually worse than we expect?

However, some reports show even higher numbers of abandoned carts due to shipping costs.  A report highlighted in eMarketer by FuturePay (2) said that 86% of surveyed respondents said that the cost of shipping resulted in cart abandonment, so it’s clearly a problem for retailers to get right.

Amazon has tried to combat this barrier through its free shipping option for Prime members.  A report by cg42 (3) found that 91% of Amazon Prime members said they signed up for the service based on the lure of free 2-day shipping.

What appears to be a common theme amongst many of the reports and surveys is that better communication about delivery options and associated costs in order set more realistic expectations earlier on.

A report by Meta Pack (4) found that 66% of consumers would move to another brand if there were more attractive delivery options available – so shipping costs and delivery times are clearly at the top of the agenda for customers when deciding whether to complete a purchase.

An article from the Royal Mail highlights an interesting point from a Deloitte report (5), saying that retailers will need to move quickly to better respond to consumers’ expectations – with same day delivery becoming more standard in our online shopping experiences. Some reports are also suggesting many consumers are now expecting free same-day delivery which is obviously ahead of many retailers’ current offerings.

So with the huge impact that delivery costs have on customers’ decision making, combined with the availability of suitable delivery options, retailers will be looking at ways to make delivery option information more prominent on their sites to enable consumers to be updated earlier in the process.

 

References

(1)   https://www.ups.com/media/en/gb/ups_global_paper.pdf

(2)   https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Cart-Abandonment-Really-Come-Down-Cost/1015092

(3)   http://cg42.com/

(4)   http://www.metapack.com/report/delivering-consumer-choice-infographic/

(5)   http://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/global-powers-of-retailing.html

Are you in the 20% of retailers with no mobile offering?


In the UK, mobile now accounts for 40% of online retail sales – and that’s a figure which is growing rapidly quarter on quarter (1). Yet for many consumers, the mobile shopping experience is still poor, and retailers are not delivering a good enough experience to convert would-be customers.

Many customers are struggling to make it beyond their shopping carts when buying on a mobile device – with desktop sales conversions 2.7 times higher than mobile conversions.  In other words, only 19% of shopping carts accessed using a smartphone result in completed purchases versus 30% on a desktop (2).

There is clearly a disconnect, as it’s reported that shoppers in the US spend 59% of their ‘web’ time on a mobile device, but only 15% of their dollars are being spent through mobile channels (3). Bad connectivity can sometimes prevent sales moving forward if shoppers are accessing sites on the go, but it appears to be often down to poor mobile experiences offered by retailers.  Many merchants have not got dedicated apps, or at the very least haven’t yet optimised their sites for mobile.  Shoppers are having to go through the standard desktop purchase process using a tiny screen – and it’s often not possible to easily complete the purchase from a mobile device because of non-optimised payment gateways.

Is mobile stopping your customers finding you?

And this lack of optimisation is not just affecting shoppers trying to complete purchases – it’s impacting customers even finding you in the first place if you don’t have a mobile optimised site.  Google is now prioritising the ranking of websites that are optimised for mobile above non-optimised retailers – so ignoring smartphone and tablet traffic will start to cost ecommerce outlets from both sides (3).

In fact, research by the Centre for Retail Research has said that the UK retail industry is losing £6.6bn every year due to a lack of investment in a mobile optimised solution (1). Retailers need to look at ways to improve each part of the sales process – from viewing products, obtaining stock information through to actually placing an order.  It’s not just about having a mobile optimised site – it’s about being able to access easy to use payment methods that are also optimised for engagement on a mobile device.

1 in 5 retailers have no mobile offering

The same research also suggests that 1/5 of retailers in the UK still have no mobile offering – despite 88% of retailers saying that having a mobile channel would result in more visits to their store.  This is because many consumers are not exclusively using online and in-store channels to purchase, but are instead using a blend of the two by consulting their smartphones in store before making purchases in-person.

So there is clearly demand from consumers, and retailers can see the potential benefits that could be realised from having a dedicated mobile strategy, yet 40% of UK consumers still feel the mobile experience could be improved so there is more work to be done (1). When the top searched for items are high-value products such as clothing and electronics, it surely makes sense for retailers to try and address the huge gap between abandoned carts on mobile devices and abandoned purchases on desktops.  If the only difference is that the device used by consumers is mobile, then the reasons must be down to poor experience due to lack of optimisation for smartphones.  It’s a factor that is within the retailer’s control – so how can they take advantage of this opportunity?

Moving to mobile optimisation

We all know that websites need to be mobile optimised, but for retailers it’s a matter of commercial life and death.  Without optimisation, customers can’t easily purchase or navigate through payment screens.  If the text is too small to read or consumers have to zoom in to input their bank details then it’s unlikely that they will be keen to return to complete their purchase, nevermind return in the future.

The easiest step is to build mobile responsiveness into any new web design projects from the ground up.  You don’t need a dedicated app – you just need a mobile optimised website that can organise your information into a mobile friendly view.  Regular testing is critical to ensuring information is displayed how you intend it – but many of the main ecommerce software tools offer mobile responsive functionality to help you easily offer mobile purchasing options.

Another option is to focus on the visuals.  Keep your mobile offering clean and full of visuals so customers are not having to zoom in on small text or having to click small buttons within chunks of information.  Make it visual and easy to navigate from a small screen.

Less text is more on a mobile device, so let the pictures do the talking (4).

Many forward-thinking retailers are moving to a mobile-first design – they design their ecommerce stores with mobile at the forefront of what they are doing, and desktop comes second.  As more consumers are purchasing off their mobile, why design for a declining market?

So, are you on board with mobile?

 

 

References

(1)   https://econsultancy.com/blog/66543-50-fascinating-stats-about-mobile-commerce-in-the-uk-2015/

(2)   http://www.cmo.com/adobe-digital-insights/articles/2016/10/19/adi-holiday-predictions-report-2016.html#gs.E58tvoI

(3)   http://uk.businessinsider.com/mobile-commerce-shopping-trends-stats-2016-10?r=US&IR=T

(4)   https://www.shopify.com/partners/blog/74754051-5-simple-hacks-for-an-optimized-mobile-ecommerce-design

 

INTRODUCING THE RAZORFISH CONNECTED RETAIL EXPERIENCE PLATFORM (CODE-NAMED “5D”)


This work maybe a few months old, however what is being done by the guys over at Razorfish is fantastic. Check out the ideas below they could provide some really ideas that could differentiate your business.

Pinterest Analytics and True Social ROI Webinar by Pinfluencer


Really interesting video from the guys over at Pinfluencer. The statistics on pinterest are unbelievable and using the solution should be a must for any retailer, site or brand owner. See what you think….