Why are online stores becoming pro-technology and anti-people?

While the online retail segment continues to boom more care and attention is required to enhance the customer experience, says Chris Brinkworth.

As a human first and consumer second I associate brands with the positive emotional experiences I’ve encountered with them first and the transactional experience comes second.

I’m sure I’m not Robinson Crusoe in that regard, so while many online stores are already technology rich, do they put the customer first by anticipating their emotions and personalising their experience, whilst still fulfilling their needs?Chris Brinkworth - SalesCycle

The reason Australians are increasingly shopping online is because it’s convenient and being able to do it on their mobile whenever they want makes it even more attractive.

In fact, smartphones accounted for 45.1% of web-shopping traffic in the first quarter of this year, edging out computers at 45%. Not having to schlepp to the store, find a parking space and negotiate our way through thousands of other shoppers is a pain.

Online shopping gives us quick access to everything we want and need in one place, but competition is rife with more overseas retailers targeting Australian shoppers online, this is the exact reason online cart abandonment rates are so high.

The money Australians spend online is projected to rise by about $10 billion within the next five years. So, in an increasingly competitive market, how do you stop visitors from shopping around? What’s missing in many online stores is the ‘human factor’ of customer service, the type of service a consumer would expect if they were in a physical store – such as recommendations, real-time assistance with product queries, putting goods on hold, immediate satisfaction, convenience and being made to feel special.

Blue key of the computer. The symbol

It’s this human factor which is more likely to make your online retail store more customer friendly and sticky.

Like that? Why not try this?

When we’re shopping in a physical store, there’s usually someone on hand to make recommendations and point out related products you may not have seen. In a similar way, online shopping is now becoming more personal, as retailers and brands try to use data analytics to deliver curated and targeted product recommendations to consumers.

Our client, British women and children’s clothing store, Monsoon (which also owns the international Accessorize brand), uses dynamic product recommendations which has led to a 25% increase in campaign sales and has increased online order values to a level 38% higher than direct sales in store.

Quality outdoor clothing and bag retailer, Filson, has a history dating back to 1897 is a “19th Century brand that is pushing 21st Century boundaries” according to Esquire.

filson warehouse image - filson

The Filson warehouse store in Seattle

Filson has increased online sales by 4% by implementing our personalised product recommendations.

Being able to make size recommendations to online shoppers and predict how a product will fit right there and then rather than in a follow up email, has been shown to increase customer satisfaction and decrease product returns.

Being able to serve up personalised recommendations of products that a shopper might be interested in; and to deliver insights to retailers and brands that helps with marketing, merchandising and product development will increase sales and avoid so many cart abandonments.

I just want to talk to someone!

It’s so frustrating. You can’t find what you’re looking for or need more information and, of course, that’s when there’s not a salesperson in sight. Not only do you leave the store empty handed, but you leave with a bad taste in your mouth.

The same thing applies to online shopping with a third of customers leaving brands after one negative experience. If we can’t get the answers we need, we leave the store and look elsewhere.

Obviously you can’t give customers a physical person (not yet anyway), but you can do the next best thing…display an on-site message offering customer service via live chat or call back from a representative to provide the same element of real-time assistance.

Male salesclerk at men's clothing counter

Gotta run – can I put that on hold?

Your kid is throwing a temper tantrum, a colleague calls, you’re late for a meeting… there are a million reasons, but sometimes you get distracted or just have to go.

Similar to putting items aside or placing them on hold, I’m surprised that more online stores don’t offer the same service to busy buyers online. An ‘Email My Basket’ type message not only allows the customer to complete their purchase when they’re ready (and stress-free) but the retailer will also now have their email address for additional remarketing opportunities.

Put yourself in their shoes

Take the time to walk a metaphorical mile in your customer’s shoes; following their online shopping journey as if you were them will be a real eye opener. Don’t take your developer’s word for it. Take the walk yourself.

Ultimately, providing the personalised human touch to online store visitors will make them feel special and that all important emotional experience the brand created will encourage them to return to the store time and time again and rarely abandon before purchasing.

Chris Brinkworth is the chief revenue officer, APAC, at SaleCycle


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