As part of our “Master Guide to Shopper Retention and Acquisition” series, we will be presenting Best Practices as they relate to a specific topic on this subject. In turn, these guides will help ensure the success of your business going forward into 2018.
Brand loyalty rarely happens overnight. It takes time to build and curate. This process Segways into customer retention and acquisition. But before we can get to that, we must “why”. Why does someone choose one product over another or one retailer over another? For example, Walmart and Target both offer most of the same goods, at around the same price per item. Both are frequently found in the same geographic location, and they each allow customers to order through their respective websites. Finally, they both have their own customer clubs/rewards program.
Assuming that location is not an issue, why on earth would a shopper choose Walmart over Target, or vice-versa?
Brand association – what this means is that, if you search online for “people of Walmart” and “people of Target” you will get two strikingly different results. These results speak volumes about the experiences people have when shopping at the aforementioned big box retailers.
When it comes to brand choices, let’s consider a few examples that are a little less contentious.
- Pepsi vs. Coke
- Yankees vs. Red Sox
- iOS vs. Android
- McDonald’s vs. Burger King
- Patriots vs. basically any other team in the NFL.
What makes a shopper choose, and then stay with one of these brands over the other? We all know that people will drink whatever soft drink is in front of them. They will still attend a baseball game regardless of the outcome (go Yankees!) and people switch between Android and iPhone all the time.
On top of that, many brands sell their goods through multiple retailers. Thus, shoppers can choose between purchasing what they want from thousands of sites, or in a store of their choosing.
With so many choices to make and so much to consider, it all comes down to the most important fixture of shopping – the customer experience. So, let’s cover every aspect of this experience and its effect on brand loyalty and retention.
The Shopper Experience Matters:
It matter’s a lot – and it’s a fundamental part of the shopping experience. One that countless retailers – brick and mortar as well as eCommerce – tend to overlook.
A good user experience (UX) ensures that the shopper is satisfied with every aspect of their shopping – from casually browsing to checkout.
It’s asking a lot because it’s just not an easy thing to achieve – but when you provide an amazing UX, shoppers are not compelled to go elsewhere. Subsequently, you can lower the chances of browse and cart-abandonment, while doing the minimum required for shopper retention. For the purposes of this guide, we won’t discuss what is required for physical retail locations, rather their digital companions (websites).
Now, just what is it that goes into creating an amazing UX for shoppers?
The Shopper Experience:
The shopper UX starts with the usability of the site. A site that is enjoyable to use, or at least one that can be used without too many annoyances, is likely to see more shoppers return repeatedly on a regular basis.
Site navigation is really important. Shoppers need to know where they are on a site, and how to get around. But it’s made even better when paired with site search. Which makes the process easier by allowing shoppers to simply search for the product they want to buy and take them directly to it.
The above is an example of how an excellent shopper UX starts. It features a strategically placed site search bar, and well-defined product categories for easy navigation.
Part of creating a pleasurable UX starts with genuinely listening to shopper feedback and applying it where applicable. This can be a problem if you decided to be hard-headed about your website. That kind of attitude can cause problems and cost you money. So, take shopper feedback seriously, and make the best possible changes. This is especially true when we consider the fact that with so many sites selling the same products, UX is exactly the kind of factor that sets one retailer apart from another.
How do you lose a sale in one easy step? Scratch that – how do you lose a customer forever in one easy step?
Well, assuming you have done everything right until now – you can accomplish this by making the UX during the checkout process as complex as possible.
Long and overly complex checkout processes are responsible for 28% of abandonment.
As a general rule, when shoppers go through the checkout process on your site, it should be effortless – no popups, no page redirects, no additional tabs.
The best way to do this is to limit the number of pages at checkout to 1 single page, with no more than 12 fields that need to be filled out by the customer. Those fields should only concern their name, address, city, state, country, contact info, and payment details. Followed by multiple payment and shipping options (more on that below) a “submit order” button and that’s it.
What do payments have to do with the shopper UX? If you aren’t careful, you will find yourself losing sales because shoppers can’t complete their purchases.
What’s that you say?
Although it’s illegal in most places, you have likely experienced the following at least once. You enter a store to buy something small. At checkout, the cashier tells you they don’t take plastic for purchases below $20. You reach for your wallet and pull out a Benjamin. The cashier tells you they don’t break Benjamins on sales below $50. Fuming, you drop the item and walk out. Who are they to reject your money because of their own disinterest in processing your payment?
In the digital realm, the non-acceptance of payment methods is responsible for at least 8% of all abandonments. You can counteract this issue and greatly improve your UX by simply accepting more payment methods at checkout.
If it sounds too simple, that’s because it is. In fact, offering payment services such as Apple Pay, or Google Wallet will go a long way towards improving your sites CVR simply by streamlining the process for shoppers.
Consumer-loan financing from companies such as Affirm, Bread, and SplitIt is also incredibly helpful in this regard. Why? Because they provide an alternative way for shoppers to complete purchases on your site.
So, in short, offering flexible payment methods at checkout greatly contributes to the UX shoppers will have on your site.
This is the part of the shopper UX where retailers often lose serious shoppers. A shopper is pumped to complete their order, gleefully preparing to pick a delivery option. When to their horror they discover that the only option is overnight express at a cost of nearly what they paid for the entire order.
“Stop. That’s crazy. That doesn’t happen. Wait does that happen?” Well, let’s consider the alternative.
They discover that the only option is snail mail. Their package should arrive by next winter.
“Stop. That’s even crazier. Nobody does that.” Well, fictional naysayer, plenty of eCommerce merchants do exactly this.
In fact, “slow delivery” is single-handedly responsible for 18% of abandonment.
Aside from ruining the shopper UX, it harms their retention and acquisition efforts.
People like choices, because choices = freedom, and flexibility. But its not just about that, it’s a consideration issue. Why should a shopper have to spend money on a shipping option they don’t want? Alternatively, why shouldn’t shoppers be able to spend their money on a shipping option just because it costs a lot?
A good eCommerce site offers shoppers a few options when it comes to shipping. It doesn’t matter if people are spending $5 or $500, this is the kind of consideration that must be taken into account.
The example shown above would be perfect if it also showed the price next to each shipping option.
Tracking is also really important. Shoppers want to know where their purchase is once their payments have been processed. Tracking does three really important things post-purchase.
- It provides shoppers with a sense of assurance that you have done everything in your power to get their package out in a timely manner.
- It adds an element of gamification to the overall UX, whereby every time they check the status of the delivery, they get a slight rush of excitement to see that it is making its way closer to their location.
- It’s basically free advertising for your business because every time they check the status, they will be reminded of what they purchased and who they purchased it from.
The finishing touch on an excellent shopper UX comes down to returns.
The only thing worse than discovering that the shoes you spent a week waiting for are too big, is finding out that returning said shoes and getting the right size is going to cost you. Mistakes happen – “to err is to be human”. But a poor return experience? It doesn’t have to be this way – in fact, it should not be this way at all.
“Free returns” should be the “golden rule” of the eCommerce world. The ability to return items for free. No restocking fees. No return delivery charge. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. And it does have consequences for merchants – especially when it comes to shopper acquisition.
Having a “poor return policy” is responsible for 11% of abandonment.
The returns process is also made a lot easier when shoppers can easily contact your business for all of their queries. In other words, it should be as easy as possible to get in touch with you when there is a problem with the order. Providing shoppers, the option of contacting you over the phone, via SMS, email, and even through social media tells them everything they need to know about how much they can rely on you to ensure their satisfaction.
As you can now tell, shopper retention and acquisition require a lot more than simply running a fanciful ad online or sending out a nice email (topics which will be discussed in the next article of this series). It is a process that requires the full engagement of any eCommerce merchant that truly desires to boost their business. Brands can do half the work for you by developing loyalty with regards to unique products and services, but retailers need to meet them halfway in order to close sales. Shopper UX is critical in completing this cycle. Therefore, it is really important to provide the best possible experience across every aspect of your sites UX.
Founded in 2015, Datacrushers uses Machine Learning and A.I. along with NLP to identify and recover revenue loss, cart abandonment and discover new revenue sources across any site. The revenue discovery platform completes the deep ongoing analysis of eCommerce websites by monitoring the three main focal points of any site: The User, Site, and Product.
Unlike traditional “cart abandonment platforms,” Datacrushers does not require shoppers and customers to be logged-in to conduct both on and offsite campaigns. We use a wide range of data-driven and analytics based conversion tools to target the shopper at the right time with the most accurate and effective campaign to drive the sale.
Datacrushers is platform, language, and currency agnostic and requires only a few lines of code to get started therefore delivering an ultra-fast go-to-market with minimal set-up time and tech intervention.
Based out of Jerusalem, Israel, Datacrushers has clients worldwide including, The US, China, Russia, UK, Germany, and more.