While purchasing new clothes online always lifts my spirit, my bank account doesn’t seem to enjoy the experience quite as much. Online shopping, in fact, has become the 21st century’s favorite hobby – in just a few clicks you can easily spend thousands of dollars – and the best part is you don’t even need to get out of bed. However, that doesn’t mean that online customers don’t have high standards.
One of online shoppers’ biggest pet peeves is retailers who do not support omni-channel order fulfillment, and customers will likely visit another retailer’s website if the BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In-Store) option is not offered. So, what do today’s online shoppers really want? Putting your finger on customers’ expectations can help guide your sales strategy to increase revenues. Here are the key ingredients you’ll need to please online shoppers.
Peace of Mind
It should come as no surprise that customers do not want their sensitive information being sold, shared, or stolen. One study from Pew Research Center found that a whopping 93 percent of adults said that being in control of who could get their personal information was important. Identity theft is a major concern for customers, and it may altogether stop them from purchasing items online. Ensuring your e-commerce is level 1 PCI-DSS compliant is essential if you want to reassure your customers and give them real reasons to trust your brand over others. There are also more subtle elements you can focus on to gain customers’ trust, such as your “About us” page or a customer service number and email address customers can reach to speak with a real person when necessary. Interestingly, customers also need to confirm that the products they’re purchasing are the best – and nothing reassures them more than online reviews from other customers.
The online shopping experience needs to be both quick and frictionless – from the moment customers add items to their carts to the time they receive their items. Anything unexpected during these regular delivery steps is sure to make customers cringe. For instance, who wouldn’t be annoyed to receive an order confirmation email only to find out days later that some of the items they had purchased were out of stock? Fast delivery is always appreciated, but the service needs to be flawless. Online shoppers will contact you when they have a problem and you need to answer them in a timely fashion. Customers also find it important to have product information available to them. In fact, 88 percent of shoppers characterize detailed product content as being extremely important.
Today’s customers are all about omni-channel commerce, and failing to master the art of delivering seamless experiences can be a real deal-killer. As important as merging the online and offline channels is, you need to ensure that the software provider you invest in does it all – with all the details that truly make the difference. Price harmonization, for example, is extremely important to customers. No one wants to feel like they’ve missed a better deal, so ensuring that your prices match both online and in-store is a smart way to please your customers. Customers also demand harmonized customer experiences: if you offer free shipping in-store, they expect it online as well.
While the role of in-store sales associates has changed tremendously, the online world has not been left behind. Influencers have become the new sales associates: promoting brands, doing hauls and presenting make-up tutorials is their full-time job. Their online presence is everywhere and customers trust their opinions, now more than ever. Brands that partner with digital influencers are sure to reap the benefits – as the publicity and visibility these brands get from working with these creative people is significant. Following social media trends is a golden opportunity brands shouldn’t miss. A shoppable Instagram feed, for example, can influence customers’ purchases by enabling them to identify their favorite items on people they admire the look of. Brands can also use their e-commerce sites to include hashtags that feature their customers’ outfits on their websites. A modern e-commerce site simply can’t afford not to incorporate social media into their retail sales strategy, and influencer marketing is a smart technique to use.
Online shoppers are all looking for a certain je ne sais quoi, and it may not take much to please them. For example, the pictures of the items on online receipts are always small, and a good way to cope with this problem is to add hyperlinks to the receipts, so customers can quickly see what they just purchased. Often times, they like to show their family and friends the items they just bought and find it time-consuming to scroll through each picture on the website. Why expect them to go to all this trouble? Retailers should do their best and make a good long-lasting impression on customers, so they’ll always be hungry for more. The big picture is critical, but don’t neglect the little details, either. They are often what customers remember and appreciate most.