Reach, find, convert, and retain: How to keep your customers in the e-commerce loop
Over the last few years, there has been a convergence of standard features and engaging customer components that are now expected on e-commerce websites. By exploring upcoming trends in each part of the customer engagement lifecycle loop (reach, find, convert, and retain), we can determine how these emerging features can ultimately contribute to maximising conversion to meet digital revenue targets.
Reach is the first stage of engagement where a customer becomes aware of your website and is given a reason to visit. This is often overlooked in retail, but as the market is very competitive, there is a need to lay the path for those potential customers to find you rather than your competitors.
The emergence of social commerce is becoming the main influencer in attracting customers to retail sites and at present there are very few sites offering something different to drive more visitors.
Rather, the traditional word of mouth approach is being transferred into a digital message that is being shared across social networks. Liking and sharing content is having an indirect influence, which will in turn affect SEO rankings much more.
A number of very interesting features in the virtual dressing room are beginning to appear, and are greatly helping customers find the right item (and ultimately increasing conversion). For example, FitsMe uses ‘flexible’ mannequins, where the mannequins can be adjusted to different body shapes and sizes.
This means specific visualisations of a garment can be shown on a particular body shape. Another service, from My Virtual Model, claims to provide a solution that uses digital technology to create virtual overlays over a model that can be configured to specific body shapes and sizes.
The emergence of digital personal shoppers will also be a trend to look out for in the format of chat window engagements, for customers to be able to ask, in real-time, more about a product or advice on matching items (such a service is currently being trialed by ASOS). However, this will move into a more visual medium where webcams and mobile phone/tablet cameras will be used to enable a ‘real’ personal assistant to interact and help with customers.
While Amazon’s 1-Click ordering has been around for a long time this, of course, works well when you are known to that retailer and you have already stored your details on their system.
However, by using these new payment methods via your phone or tablet you can store all your purchase data, such as credit cards and addresses, in the phone itself. Then when you are at the checkout, you can simply enter a unique code or take a QR code capture to complete the order, rather than entering all the data usually required at the checkout.
Retailers looking to blaze a trail are leveraging more external data about their customers, rather than only relying on the data that is captured when a customer is browsing onsite.
As people ‘share’ and ‘like’ on social media sites, this data is being made available as part of the Open Graph; a standard used to allow the sharing of information and functionality via social networks in a common way. This will then go beyond just data related to those who explicitly opt-in, but instead employ that from other external sources.
For example, your payment transaction history provides useful information about what you buy and where you buy it. In addition, with mobile tracking set to emerge with Apple’s release of iBeacon (where the Bluetooth signal on your phone can tell other devices placed in any location where you are), this data will be used to drive prediction models of shopping behavior where retailers can maximise their spend based on targeted and segmented marketing campaigns.
At present, retailers with e-commerce sites need to be laying the foundations by doing the simple things well, so that when the more challenging growth opportunities need to be realised via e-commerce technology, they are ready to achieve the next stage of revenue growth.
Kevin Murray, Director of eCommerce and Technology Solutions
Tel: +44 (0)20 7253 7000
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