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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.


Leader or laggard, how omnichannel savvy are you?

September 25, 2015

There have recently been a number of industry publications sharing interesting insights on the ever-growing omnichannel trend. In examining the role of omnichannel, there are a number of things marketers should think about, such as:

 

Let’s examine the answers to these questions below.

 

How will physical and digital channels change in strategic importance in the next years?

 

A report, “Online Retailing in Europe, the U.S. and Canada 2015‐2016”, released by the Center for Retail Research for RetailMeNot provides us with the following figures:

The figures show the combination of a growth of online and a slight anticipated decrease of offline, which remains the undisputed main channel even in the UK where online is most developed representing 15.2% of all retail sales.

 

It is important to understand then, that online is not only a standalone sales channel but it is actually influencing offline sales. This fact has been conceptualised as “web-influenced” sales, to demonstrate the full importance of the digital channel and its interactions with the physical channel, which are at the core of omnichannel. Recent reports by Deloitte and Forrester Research further support the importance of the “web-influenced” sphere. In fact, in its “Navigating The New Digital Divide” report, Deloitte estimates that the percentage of in-store sales influenced by digital has grown steadily from 14% in 2012, to 36% in 2013, 49% in 2014, 64% in 2015 and should be close to 100% in 2019. Forrester is more conservative however, forecasting that by 2020 digital will influence 53% of total retail sales in EU-7, including a combination of online sales and offline sales influenced by online research.

 

In this environment where sales in physical stores remain the standard but are increasingly influenced by digital, a recent survey of 200 retail CxOs in Europe from Pierre Audoin Consultants, “Omnichannel Retail in Europe”, shows that the European retailers expect digital channels to become more strategically important in the next five years, but not at the expense of the store. Some 85% of German retailers and 80% of their French peers believe that the physical branch will become more strategically important by 2020, compared to 62% of retailers in the UK.

 

A report from the Center for Retail Research, states that successful retailers will be defined by their ability to operate online as an omnichannel business, as well as operating physical stores in a very competitive environment. The physical store will continue to go through an optimisation phase which has already started: a recent study by L2, “Omnichannel Retail 2015”, has shown that omnichannel leaders have been closing stores and optimising the performance of remaining ones simultaneously, achieving a better global store performance overall compared to omnichannel laggards. Moving forward, retailers should therefore work at merging the physical and digital worlds through strategies such as drive to store, phygital and store to web. Aside from pure players, which limit themselves to the online channel, retailers are listening to their customers – the ones driving omnichannel in many instances. In a survey from Pierre Audoin Consultants, 85% of European retailers stated that their omnichannel retail strategy is in place because customers are demanding it, while 89% said that their omnichannel initiatives are being driven by a need to improve the customer experience.

 

How far advanced are retailers in integrating physical and online channels?

 

For L2, whether a retailer has a strong “omnichannel IQ” or not is determined by their investments in the following:

 

L2 warns companies not to forget about the real essence of omnichannel: many organisations still think about omnichannel as an extension of their digital business or as a sexier name for e-commerce, evidenced by the fact that 41% of executives in senior omnichannel roles come directly from an e-commerce background. By failing to adopt a holistic approach, retailers miss the opportunity for clicks/bricks interplay.

 

So how are retailers performing on these aspects? IAB Europe recently conducted an Advertiser Mobile Audit on where the top media spending automotive and retail brands in nine European countries (including the UK) stand in relation to their mobile properties (websites and apps). In this audit, 219 automotive brands (approximately the top 25 in each market) and 394 retail brands (approximately the top 50 in each market) were audited against the following criteria, very much matching the ones mentioned by L2:

 

Despite the store locator function being integral to addressing consumers’ expectations of their online to offline shopping journey, the results found that:

 

 

How will retailers execute their omnichannel strategies? Will they look to work with external partners, and in what areas will they look for support?

 

Pierre Audoin Consultants’ report states that non-tech challenges are the biggest omnichannel headaches with more than 80% of the companies interviewed stating that the development of a long-term channel integration strategy was a major challenge, while three quarters named transforming internal organisation structures as a pressing concern.

 

The biggest regional differences were in the responses from German and UK retailers. The development of a long-term strategy is a huge concern for the former (cited by 73% as a major

challenge), as was the need to make changes to the organisational structure (68%). But UK retailers are much more optimistic on long-term strategy planning (38% see it as a major challenge), and instead are much more concerned about understanding customer activity across multiple channels (43% vs 15% in Germany).

 

Support from third-party service providers is welcomed: the majority of retailers (57%) believe that they would benefit from external support in implementing and integrating omnichannel solutions. This reflects how stretched many internal IT teams at retailer companies have become in 2015, and shows that retailers have an appreciation of how difficult it can be to drive channel integration – not just in terms of technology, but also in transforming and optimising business processes. Retailers should aim to use best-of–breed, ‘off the shelf’ technologies, such as Solocal’s BRIDGE for store locators, to ease time and cost investment.

 

Improving omnichannel IQ by listening to the market and acting with agility

 

Let’s summarise this post’s key learnings:

With this in mind, retailers should capitalise on these opportunities in the coming months to grow their omnichannel IQ and leadership for 2016.