Turning browsers into buyers: Making online shopping more personal
FAQs just don’t hack it!: UK retailers are increasing both their investment and focus in e-commerce services to attract the growing amount of customers who shop online. A recent study by eBay predicts that 85% of consumers intend to maintain or increase their online shopping. Article by Ravi Shankar Pandey, senior VP and UK head of NIIT Technologies.
But while online retailers are excited that consumer confidence is returning, they are still trying to understand what turns ‘browsers into buyers’.
When consumers shop online, they often fill their baskets with the things they want but then leave without buying. One of the problems is that some consumers still find the lack of interaction with a sales assistant an issue, especially when buying things such as groceries, clothing and more technical items. To be frank FAQs just don’t hack it! However, being able to engage with your customer and answer any queries they might have makes all the difference in whether they decide to make a purchase as consumers need to feel confident that they have all the information they need before their money is spent, especially as online purchases are considered particularly troublesome if an item has to be returned.
Market growth rates set to decline
Research carried out by independent analyst Verdict found that while the online shopping population has grown from 17 percent in 2003 to 60 percent in 2009, growth rates in the market are set to decline from 270 percent in the period 2003-2008 to 69 percent over the next five years.
Verdict Research believes that with a slowdown in the number of additional new consumers shopping online each year, retailers have got to be far more strategic in how they grow their businesses. They have got to target shoppers more selectively, work far harder to engage with those shoppers, and then drive them to their websites, ensuring that they are given every opportunity to spend and then manage the ongoing relationship to secure long term loyalty. But while conceptually it is simple; execution it is far harder.
A technology solution – click to chat
Innovative development of new e-commerce technology could be the key for UK companies seeking to maintain and expand their presence in the ferociously competitive online retail market and, as a result, technologies have been developed to provide a variety of e-commerce solutions, which will help combat these consumer hesitancies and make online shopping a more personal experience.
In the UK alone it is calculated some £3.7 billion is lost in sales to shopping cart abandonment. Retailers need to instil a higher degree of focus and effort in persuading consumers to spend on their web sites, and this is one of the areas where innovative technology and services can assist retailers. One area of particular focus is thorough ‘click-to-chat’ where a dialogue box appears on the browser’s screen, providing some aspect of personal service and support in an otherwise limited shopping experience. Click-to-chat services in particular can help a shopper to feel like they have been given individual attention, and retailers can use faceted navigation techniques and other well tried and tested offerings.
To illustrate, one recent experience with a UK-based global fashion retailer, which implemented a click to chat service, achieved a marked increase in sales conversions – where a browser chose to buy. The service increased online revenue generated by the click-to-chat team by about 44 percent and the average order value increased significantly leading to one of their most successful autumn sales in recent history. Additionally, the cost per acquisition (CPA) was also reduced along with an accompanying increase in customer satisfaction.
Using other technologies the same retailer provided a seven-day-a-week ‘web chat’ service, covering customer services, website navigation support, helpdesk and advisory services along with query resolution and escalations online services, all which added to the customer satisfaction and shopping experience, while having a positive effect on slaes.
The opportunities are there
Ultimately, retailers need not be too disheartened by the huge level of shopping cart abandonment, but rather see it as an opportunity to approach customers to find out if additional assistance is needed. Even if a browsing shopper fails to purchase and abandons the website, the opportunity for sales still exists as there are technical solutions to address shopping cart abandonment through applications which notify the retailer when a customer has ‘dropped out’ of the shopping process, allowing a dedicated customer service team to contact the customer within the hour to investigate. One retailer using this technology reported that more than 60 percent of customers who were contacted went on to purchase the product as a result of the sales call, while another reduced the abandonment rate to below one percent, which is very encouraging indeed. To conclude, to increase your success at turning online browsers into buyers all is now technically possible, you just need the right technology partner, with the right knowledge, at the right price!
Ravi Shankar Pandey is senior vice-president and UK head of NIIT Technologies