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Influencing the decision to purchase

May 23, 2016

Having decided on a preference for one brand, product or service over another, the customer will then look to purchase – the third stage of the customer journey.  However, even at this stage ‘moments of truth’ still exist and much can go wrong if the interaction is not managed correctly.

Brands should ensure the path to purchase is as easy as possible, providing a suitable amount of information on products or services, and an easy to navigate system are crucial as busy customers can easily look for alternatives if a service isn’t meeting their expectations. Using browsing data can help brands to understand how consumers use the site to make improvements and even, which products or services users are most interested in. Sending incentives to encourage customers to purchase, such as discount vouchers or offers on the products they like is a tool that can be easily integrated into sites and are excellent tactics for converting sales or driving footfall into store to complete a purchase.

Reasons for abandonment

Despite seemingly having made the decision to purchase an item, research suggests roughly 70% of online shoppers abandon items in their baskets – and for many reasons. One report has indicated that a lack of transparency on total cost is the number one reason for abandonment, with consumers discovering shipping rates to be higher than expected. Having the option of free shipping for first time buyers might be a consideration for brands, or alternatively, offering product and store locator features on the site will allow the consumer to instead go into store to pick up the item for free.  In fact, increasingly most consumers now expect this to be an available option when it comes to selecting the method of obtaining their purchase. Such is the case; John Lewis announced early in 2015 that volumes of ‘click and collect’ sales had over taken home delivery for the first time.

Payment methods not communicated upfront was also sighted in the same research as being a hindrance, with consumers often not wanting to or having time to create an account in order to make a purchase.  Being able to offer a guest checkout option or the ability to register via an existing online account (such as Facebook or PayPal) in this instance is advantageous.  Ultimately, providing ‘options’ when it comes to the purchase stage, which suit the customer, is the best way to ensure the conversion from preference to purchase.

Tools to drive sales

Online appointment booking is a useful tool for encouraging customers ‘over the line’. Easy and hassle free, in-store consultations with a knowledgeable staff member will not only help to build a personal connection, but will drive footfall to a physical store and encourage purchase.  Real time online booking that is available 24/7 can provide a convenient option for customers keen to buy your products/services without being merely limited to open hours.

In our final post we will examine how implementing the tactics we’ve discussed throughout can help to drive loyalty from customers.


Masterclassing – How do retailers ensure a seamless customer experience from online research to in-store purchase?

October 27, 2014

Masterclassing

There has been an undeniable change in people’s buying habits in recent years, with how consumers choose to buy and research products evolving as technology does.

The rise of mobile and online technology has had a huge impact on consumer behaviour, and the surge in the number of smartphone and tablet users has led to an ever- increasing number of consumers who research products online before buying in store.

It is therefore essential that retailers manage the customer journey seamlessly from attention to action, and engage with customers along their purchase journey in a personalised and contextual way.

By offering customers an easy to use, personalised service, the user experience is greatly improved, leading to increased loyalty and engagement. This interaction with consumers can be made possible through solutions such as personalised display advertising, cross-channel store locators, real-time online appointment booking and mobile-enabled websites.

Creating an optimised, seamless customer journey from initial search to in-store purchase is at the core of everything Solocal Group UK do. To enhance the customer experience, we encourage brands to build a real understanding of the customer, as it enables them to personalise their marketing campaigns.

Personalised marketing allows consumers to cut through the masses of information available online, and makes them feel like they are receiving a special service, tailored especially for their needs and interests. When running a display advertising campaign, it is therefore important that retailers identify their target audience and take the time to understand this group, by analysing detailed social, behavioural, geographic and demographic data.

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Bridging The Gaps On The Customer Journey

October 14, 2014

Every day we take part in a journey. It doesn’t require train or bus tickets and we don’t need to make sure there is enough petrol in the car. The journey that I am referring to is the one that billions of us as consumers make when we decide or find the need to purchase something. It is the customer journey.

Unfortunately, similarly to some of our other travel experiences, many of us have less than smooth experiences, leaving us disgruntled and vowing never to make the same mistake again.

The typical customer journey is comprised of six stages:

  1. Discovery and consideration (through word of mouth, content or advertising)
  2. Research and evaluation (both online and offline)
  3. Purchase (both online and offline)
  4. Fulfillment
  5. Product returns, exchanges or maintenance
  6. Customer feedback, which fuels the discovery and research stages of the journey of another customer

Getting the customer journey right requires planning, a high level of commitment and a certain amount of empathy to avoid any pitfalls along the way. After all, we are all passengers at some point.

Avoiding flaws at each leg of the journey

At each stage of the customer journey, there is a risk that the brand could lose the customer if they don’t sufficiently engage with them and meet their requirements. When a shopper encounters a flaw, retailers become open to the risk that the customer might be tempted to switch to a competitor who is better able to engage with them, or may even abandon their intent to purchase all together. This means that having even one weakness along the customer path could dissuade potential customers from continuing on their purchase journey, harming other marketing strategies which have been implemented along the way and hindering ROI overall.

It’s therefore crucial that brands engage with customers along each stage of the purchase journey. And while engaging with consumers has become more difficult with the advent of online and mobile shopping, technology has enabled us to develop multichannel marketing solutions that will support brands looking to optimize their customer’s journey both online and in-store.

The importance of seamless connections

A recent study by Accenture, which offers some insight into the customer journey, highlighted the importance of a seamless customer experience:

To help create a seamless customer journey, research by Capgemini published last year clearly stated that brands should invest in digital tools to support the ‘clicks to bricks’ journey. The company identified 13 digital services which customers can use across the purchase cycle. These include: store locator solution, store happenings, e/mcoupons, product locators and click & reserve services, appointment booking system, online personal shopping, m-payments and multichannel loyalty programmes.   In today’s digital age, while customers have come to expect these tools, they are surprisingly still not implemented by a significant part of the businesses:  the IAB UK Mobile Retail Audit, released in June 2013, found that only 48% of the top 50 UK retailers have a store locator on their mobile site.

Improving the customer journey

While the Accenture research shows that there has been an improvement in seamless customer experience there’s clearly still a long way to go to achieve complete customer satisfaction. The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index reveals that satisfaction has continued to fall among UK customers, leaving people more unhappy with their customer experience now than they were in January 2011.

Our advice for a brand to ensure it is providing a seamless, smooth customer experience is to consider the following steps:

Solocal Group’s mission of connecting brands and customers is strongly linked to the customer journey, and this is a topic we will continue to investigate and discuss during  several upcoming industry events including Internet Retailing Customer Experience Research Briefing (October 22) and Local Search Today! – The Customer Journey (December 16) – hope to see you there!