Competition brings out the best in us. But in the present landscape of online retail, the competition is so fierce that if you are not constantly evolving your customer experience to meet — and exceed — the expectations of today’s shoppers, the same competitive fire that typically brings out your best may very well put you out of business. Through advances in technology, increased mobile acceptance and the well-documented demise of brick-and-mortar shopping, today’s virtual consumer has limitless options in where they buy, and the next purchase opportunity is as accessible as a click of the mouse.
So what exactly makes an online sale, and what breaks one? If there was a universally accepted answer to that question, every last retailer’s online experience would look exactly the same, but that is far from the case. In order to shed some light on the answer to this all-important question, let’s examine responses from more than 1,300 online shoppers in a recent consumer behavior survey revealing up-to-date habits and preferences. Let’s begin with some deal makers.
Don’t Sleep On Email
Yes, online communication is advancing at a breakneck pace. Between mobile apps, social media platforms, chatbots and various other ways to connect with current and potential customers, good old email has taken a back seat in the eyes of many retailers — shame on them. Email proves especially effective in cart abandonment recovery. You know, when you get your prospective buyer all the way to the aisle but can’t get the “I do.” Instead of playing hard to get, let them know you still have feelings and send an email reminding them of what could have been and, even better, sweeten the offer: 38% of survey respondents returned to a retailer’s site to complete a deal upon receiving an email offering a discount on products in their cart, followed by 25% who simply received a reminder in their inbox.
Product Clarity Is Key
Although tactics for product display have evolved from the days of elaborate in-store branded environments — clearly showing your product, not just through images, but through descriptions and reviews, is of great importance in the online world. When asked what makes a great online shopping experience, 87% of consumers said clear product images, 78% said clear product reviews and 77% said clear product descriptions.
Be A Good Influence
While it is impossible to guarantee a purchase through the strategic design of the online customer experience, there are specific influencers that can make the likelihood of a deal far more real. First and foremost is price — not a surprise here: 94% of respondents listed product price as the top influencer for purchase decisions, followed by 90% citing low-cost (or free) shipping as the most important factor. But as we move down the list of top influencers, we find that selection (78%) is essential to the deal-closing process, along with offering fast delivery (75%) and free returns (42%).
Now that we have explored the makers, let’s take a look at some of the deal breakers.
Check Your Checkout
The sales funnel can be a long and winding road. From site entry to product browsing and cart selection, consumers have every opportunity to exit your site and begin the process all over elsewhere. And even when you do get them to checkout, the job is not finished. Making the checkout process as easy and efficient as possible is of great importance in closing the sale. According to 63% of mobile users and 53% of desktop users, having to fill out the same information twice during the checkout process was categorized as a leading deal breaker. In many instances, less is more and, when it comes to filling out purchase information, checkout is definitely one of them.
Injected Pop-Ups Are The Enemy
Unauthorized injected ads can create a myriad of problems for online retailers. From driving consumers to competitor sites to damaging brand reputation, they are a serious deal breaker: 29% of consumers agree that pop-up ads during the all-important checkout process are a serious distraction and will cause them to abandon their carts. In addition, 55% of consumers are likely to click on ads that offer the same product at a lower price on a competing site, and 80% of visitors who ended up purchasing elsewhere are likely to buy from the same site that lured them away.
Magellan Is Not Your Customer
When designing the online customer journey, make the journey one that does not require a map and compass. The last thing a shopper wants to deal with is difficult web site navigation. They want to enter your site, find exactly what they are looking for, fly through checkout and go on with their busy lives: 46% of shoppers stated that if web site navigation is too difficult, they will exit the site and seek another retailer option, and 70% of those shoppers listed easy site search as essential to a positive online experience.
It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly causes a conversion, but knowing customer preferences is a great start. Remember these keys to closing a deal while designing your online experience to make more and break less.
Ohad Hagai is SVP Marketing at Namogoo and has a wealth of experience in retail, e-Commerce and B2B marketing. Before joining Namogoo, Hagai was VP Marketing at Feedvisor, and helped launch two lifestyle brands as Director of Ecommerce and Digital Marketing for Sears Holdings. He holds an MBA from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.