Never before in the history of e-commerce has the online sale held such weight.
This is due to a confluence of several factors: the flow of in-person traffic waxing and waning according to the status of the pandemic; customers now expecting to have the option to purchase from anywhere; and the majority of businesses growing or relying solely upon their digital presence.
This weight has created a market in heavy competition to retain customers long enough to close that next online sale. Some businesses are thriving in this department, others are failing to close the loop – facing high numbers of abandoned carts and unfinished or one-time journeys. The difference between success and failure is multifaceted, but in the end, all boils down to the customer experience.
Here, we explore common sales strategy problems that get in the way of closing the online sale, and offer solutions for each.
Problem 1: Say what again!?
Consumers now expect brands to know them and their unique circumstances across every touchpoint and find it exasperating when that isn’t the case. Say, for instance, a customer is chatting online about the make and material of a pair of new shoes, and answering that question requires a transfer to another department or channel.
If communicating with a second or even third company representative, the customer is forced to repeat their enquiry, chances are they’ll put off shoe shopping to another day, or worse, approach a different retailer.
Solution: Ditch the friction
Ensuring that customer data is accessible in real-time to every member of your customer service and sales teams is imperative. In a brick-and-mortar store, a sales rep on the floor wouldn’t pass you onto a more experienced employee without first explaining your situation, so why would you expect anything less online? CRM technology allows for such unified customer experiences.
Problem 2: Brands with short-term memories
It’s not only the specifics of a single sale that requires integrated data. Customers now expect brands to remember not only their previous interactions with sites and staff, but also cater to their preferences. When this doesn’t happen, the consumer can feel as if that brand cares more about the buy than the buyer.
Solution: Use data to foster relationships
CRM technology is now so advanced that brands can get to know their customers both in the moment and over time, forming a complete picture of who they are and what they want. Every time a customer browses, purchases from, or interacts with a brand, that picture becomes clearer and more detailed, and their experience more personalised. Without that sense of intimacy, you’re far more likely to lose that next sale.
Problem 3: The lonely cart
We’ve all done it – browsed an online retailer, came across a product that piques our interest, added it to a cart, then left it sitting there. Abandoned carts will always be a thing and occur for many reasons. In some cases, such as a consumer changing their mind or never really intending to buy the product, you can’t do much about it. But in many cases, you can.
A consumer may have intended to complete the purchase, but became distracted. They may have been a click away from buying, but then decided to give it more of a think. Perhaps they’re just generally indecisive. In these situations, an abandoned cart is not a lost chance, but a clear opportunity.
Solution: Keep the journey going
Without a doubt, recovering lost items in the cart is the easiest way to save a sale. Which is why cart recovery strategies are so important.
This is the opportunity to remind your customers of their forgotten items, through retargeted advertising or direct communications. These reminders allow you to keep the journey with your customer active. We live in an age of distractions, short attention spans, and an overabundance of choice, so it’s only logical to take any necessary steps to re-engage the customer. Trust us, they appreciate it!
Problem 4: Bad roads to good products
The online shopping experience has evolved beyond belief, particularly over the past two years. Consumers now have the ability to purchase products quickly, requiring little concentration, often while multitasking. When this process is confusing, time-consuming, or misleading you’re far more likely to lose new customers, let alone retain existing ones.
Solution: Make buying a breeze
Design your registration, checkout and purchasing processes to be as simple and clear as humanly possible. Limit the number of fields to only the essential information. For new customers, ensure a seamless registration process. For existing customers, give them the option to purchase in one or two clicks.
It’s also of the utmost importance to lay out everything on the table from the outset – especially when it comes to shipping costs.
Be upfront about costs throughout the purchase. Adding complexity to the end of the sale will turn your customers away. So be sure to build trust into your online experience by being clear about costs and time expectations.
Problem 5: Too many one-and-dones
With so much competition in retail, repeat business is the holy grail. The good news is that a great buying experience often leads to repeat business. But what happens when that experience is seamless, and your customer retention numbers are still on the low side?
Solution: Show some love to loyalty
Loyalty programs work. Something as simple as offering a discount or gift on a second purchase can form a foundation of trust. More elaborate loyalty programs that are based on membership and offer a range of incentives and perks can make a customer feel a part of a like-minded community.
Problem 6: Stale shopping atmosphere
Brick-and-mortar retail outlets entice traffic not only with their products, but with the ambiance created by the design and detail of their interiors and exteriors. The online shop is no different. Customers are now hyper-sensitive to poor design and lack of ingenuity. Failing to consider the browsing and buying experience in its entirety is a recipe for disaster.
Solution: Sell the experience as much as the product
The possibilities of the online world are expanding by the day. Brands that are reaping the rewards are immersing consumers in virtual worlds that go beyond a digital replication of a catalogue – and actively entertain. UX theatrics, AI innovations and virtual showrooms are just a few of the many ways to bring customers into the world of your brand and take them all the way through to the completed transaction.
Problem 7 : Less ways to pay
Just as the individual customer has their unique tastes when it comes to shopping, so too do they when it comes to paying. Some prefer to use their debit/credit cards, some opt for PayPal to avoid sharing financial details and many gravitate towards buy now, pay later services. For the consumer, there’s nothing more disappointing than approaching the finish line and realising you aren’t able to cross it.
Solution: The payment option smorgasbord
The solution here is to know your customers. If you operate locally, know the most popular payment methods. If you trade internationally, determine the preferred methods of other locations (certain credit cards are more popular in certain countries). The key is to offer as much variety as possible. This isn’t a static process, either, as new ways of paying are constantly emerging, so it’s important to keep your ear to the ground.
Get in touch with the team at Simplus for help in saving future sales.