Technology

How to survive in the modern world of commerce (Part 1)

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As digital shoppers become increasingly savvy and your rivals ever more competitive with their price and service offers, it’s more important than ever before to define and implement a robust consumer-centric, digital strategy that extracts maximum value from every customer interaction.

Below is a checklist of some key items to consider to give your commerce strategy the killer edge, along with some examples of best practices from across the web.

Does your strategy put mobile users first?

Today’s shoppers make purchases whilst lying in bed, sitting on the bus and even whilst walking to work. You need to cater for all of these scenarios.

It’s no longer enough to simply build a responsive website. Instead, you need to design user experiences that are optimised for mobile users by adopting a truly “mobile first” approach to your UX design process. This may involve customising the experience for specific platforms and devices.

This is nothing new of course, but it’s surprising how many poor mobile commerce experiences still exist, especially given that UK mobile commerce transactions have exceeded those made on Desktop since 2015 (Source: IMRG) . Remember, small refinements for mobile users can make a significant impact on conversion.

Here’s a few nice examples of mobile optimised UX:

Setting field attributes on your form so that appropriate keypad variations are displayed speeds up the transaction for mobile users.

ASOS email address fields display an email optimised keyboard on Android

ASOS phone number fields display a numeric keyboard on iOS

ASOS phone number fields display a numeric keyboard on iOS

ASOS email address fields display an email optimised keyboard on Android

Sticky CTA’s ensure a user is only one click away from purchasing, no matter how far they have scrolled down a long product page.

Viewing an entire catalogue by scrolling through one product at a time can be frustrating and means a high percentage of your products will seldom get seen. Instead, consider offering flexible list views.

Why not give your website the “walking to work” test - is it easy to transact whilst on the move? Your shortfalls will soon become obvious if you put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Have you connected all of your channels?

Omnichannel has been a buzzword for years, but very few organisations have implemented a truly omnichannel strategy. The foundation of which is obtaining a 360 view of your customers that enables you to make smart decisions on how best to engage with them and ultimately convert them in to loyal, repeat purchasers.

Source: https://www.htk.co.uk

Source: https://www.htk.co.uk

This single customer view is best achieved using a CRM that is connected with all of the systems containing customer data, tied together by a unique identifier such as a customer number or an email address. This should then be combined with a suitable identity management solution that is used by all your client facing applications.

Once the above is in place, your next task should be to conduct an audit of all of your customer touchpoints and map out the purpose of these interactions, as well as the data you want to capture at each one. Armed with this rich information on your customers, you can then plan/optimise your customer engagement strategy, ensuring a continuous conversation with the customer with every interaction, based on their stage in the buying process.

For example, if you know a customer came to your product launch event, but left without making a purchase, why not greet them with a personal message when they next visit the site thanking them for attending the launch and offering them a discount. Whilst those who did make a purchase could be prompted to leave a review, or presented an offer on accessories.

It is however, important to understand how browsing behaviour varies depending on the type of interaction before segmenting your customer base, as things are not always what they seem.

Delete are working with property giant Carter Jonas, who have identified that customers who visit a physical estate agency will provide an honest synopsis of what they are looking for and the budget they are working with. However, when browsing their website, the same customers will often be more aspirational and will explore properties that are well out of their price range- just out of curiosity. As a result, if they segment their customers and deliver property recommendations based on their previous website browsing behaviour, this could result in irrelevant properties being promoted and their conversion rate being reduced.

Therefore, Delete will soon be configuring custom personalisation rules in Sitecore based on imported CRM data. This will mean that Carter Jonas can personalise a user’s web experience based on the profile data captured in-store or over the phone, improving accuracy, so properties recommendations will be of interest and thus convert better. More to come on this soon.

Personalised recommendations based on offline interactions

Personalised recommendations based on offline interactions

Whilst planning your omnichannel strategy, you also need to consider the purpose of each channel. Don’t assume for example, that all customers view your physical store as a place to actually purchase products. For many, the store is somewhere to test products, collect pre-orders, ask questions or resolve a product/service issue and their preference is to order online to avoid the hassle of carrying bags around.

With the above example in mind, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you really need such a big store with high stock levels? Or, would it be more cost effective to have a small “showroom” with online ordering points offering free and speedy home delivery?
  2. Where is the best place to locate your click & collect points and customer service desks so they are convenient for shoppers?
  3. Are your staff adequately trained to answer specific/technical questions on your goods?
  4. Are you offering the ability to order in store for home delivery? Is this service visible to customers?
  5. Does your store have good 4G coverage or offer free customer Wi-Fi?
  6. Do you have un-boxed products on display and adequate changing rooms/testing facilities?

The Demo Room at Richer Sounds lets customers experience product in a home-like environment

This shift in buying behaviour has resulted in the rise of Smart stores, where customers can immerse themselves in product and brand experiences in a way that is not possible at home. A great example is Pro-Direct, who use the latest technologies, such as augmented reality and NFC to deliver highly visual, interactive experiences to educate customers on their products.

Tip: Add your store floorplan to Google Maps so customers can easily find what they are looking for. It’s free!

Does your content add value/drive conversion?

It is very easy to waste money creating content that lacks purpose. Content is still “King” so your omnichannel strategy must define what content you will invest in and what it will aim to deliver.

Smart Insights’ content matrix is a good place to start:

Ensure your strategy covers a mix of high quality, engaging content to satisfy customer need at each stage in the buying process.

Consider when and where this content will likely be consumed and on what device and also ensure that it is delivered in a timely manner and in a suitable format. Short form content is best served in the early morning to satisfy the needs of customers on their commute. Medium form often works well at lunchtimes and it’s best to save your long form content for the evenings and weekends.

Make sure your content is tagged up and tracked - and also test the impact of your content as part of an ongoing conversion optimisation process. Customer Engagement platforms such as Sitecore and Kentico offer the ability to test content through A/B and multivariate testing. Sitecore’s new Commerce module enables admin users to test product descriptions and images so that you can ensure your product content is working as hard as possible.

Remember to promote the benefits of your product and services as well as the features, as these are the real reasons as to why people buy things.

Updating your content frequently and improving its relevance will also help your natural ranking in Google search.

See the next 4 items in Part 2 next week…..

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