Among the many game-changers that the Internet has initiated in our lives is the shift of proactive power in retail. Businesses can no longer create a single sales journey that applies for all customers, beginning with top-down marketing and ending at the cash register. Instead, buyers shape their own journey, empowered by search engines, social media, and mobile connectivity.
A Forbes article cites a study that says 70-90% of shoppers don't engage a vendor until they've completed their own buyer's journey. In this post, we will talk about the emerging changes in consumer behavior and the best practices that you can apply to your retail process in order to adapt to the new normal.
This part of the buyer's journey has been retained from the traditional model, but the bigger challenge now is to rise above the din.
Buyers still respond to persuasive marketing, but most no longer catch it from broadcast mediums, as illustrated by a Nielsen report commissioned by InPowered. 51% of consumers get their information about new products through online advertising, as opposed to 40% and 29% for TV and radio, respectively. The web has become a dominant medium and your business model needs to reflect this.
- Build a comprehensive, informative, and visually pleasing ecommerce website that puts your products at the forefront. A responsive web design gets an edge over competitors now that more consumers are using their mobile devices to find new products.
- Use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to execute compelling marketing waves across multiple channels. Online memberships, branded newsletters and personalized promotional discounts are just some of the ways to pique consumer interest online.
- Give your customers a voice. User reviews come second as an information source for consumers, so integrating a review feature into your ecommerce site can help drive up customer engagement and build the credibility of your products.
Research and Decision-Making
A large chunk of customer research used to happen within physical store premises, with salespeople and retail employees playing a pivotal role in delivering information. Because of the Internet, however, customers now spend more time on their own, looking at search engine sites, social media, and other online hubs for the information that they want.
For your ecommerce site to get a share of those clicks and views, you need to input a large amount of data, a task that can be daunting in terms of cost and manpower.
- Maintain updated, accurate, and carefully curated product information for your website. This task can be tedious and time-consuming if done manually, but a fully automated ecommerce software cuts out the repetition involved in maintaining inventory information.
- Make sure that your site accurately reflects the content of your brick-and-mortar store. Nothing will frustrate your customer more than looking up a product at your website and driving to your store only to find out that you no longer stock it. For this task, you need an integrated omnichannel infrastructure that synchronizes your web-based product list with your inventory in real time. Watch this video to learn how Connected Business can completely integrate all your selling channels in this way.
Decision to Purchase
The last phase of the Buyer's Journey is often the only time that the buyer will actively engage you as a retailer. You can greatly improve the chance of a sale by making sure that the shopping experience is as easy and fulfilling as possible.
Whether the buyer's journey ends through online shopping or a trip to your physical store, it's the details that will reveal your commitment to customer satisfaction.
- Encourage brand affinity by introducing loyalty cards. This type of membership program enables you to offer incentives that give customers great value and reduce the chance of store switching. It can also give you a data-driven overview of your store's performance over time. Connected Business's introduces a fully automated system that applies a Loyalty Card Program to your entire store through a simple setup.
- Include multiple payment options. This can include credit cards, third party online payment services, and payment on delivery terms.
- Enhance your gift card and gift certificate features. Economists have lauded the effect of the "Gift Card Economy" to retail sales through the years, but its value is limited if your gift cards only apply to your physical stores and not online, or vice versa. By making your gift card/certificate system cross-platform, you are introducing greater convenience for your customers.
- Multiple shipping options are also a plus. An increasingly connected world means that your sales can come from miles away. If you have a physical store that works in tandem with your ecommerce presence, consider adding an In-Store Pickup feature for people who order from your site but want to pay for the item in person.