When Shoppers Research: Fun and Easy Experiences Win the Sale
Michelle Burtchell | December 15, 2016
Takeaway: Midway through their buyers’ journey, consumers are considering which is the best product to buy based on features, quality, price, and delivery. This moment provides a huge opportunity for retailers and brands to build brand loyalty by minimizing consumer frustration and simplifying their lives.
Perhaps the longest, and most time-intensive stage of the buyers’ journey from the consumer standpoint is “Research.” At this stage shoppers have identified the type of product that fits their needs and are evaluating features in order to finalize selection.
This occurs after the “Discovery” stage and is when – for 81% of shoppers – the tape measurer comes out as they review selection, aesthetic, colors, sizing, measurements, materials, quality, and customer comments, to ensure the product is truly where they want to spend their money, regardless of whether that transaction is ultimately online or in store.
Additionally, they are assessing the convenience of delivery or pickup, the cost of shipping (61% abandon if free shipping isn’t available), and availability, ensuring each of these details will fit in with their schedule and expectations (51% abandon if delivery isn’t fast enough).
At this pivotal time – where the purchase happens or the product is deserted – consumers are reviewing content and questioning brand loyalty. If the brand or retailer of choice doesn’t have product descriptions that clearly illustrate how the item will fit all the needs, uses, and logistics consumers want, they may forsake their favorite shopping destination for a product and source explains details more competently. None of us want this, and here are some key ways to prevent it.
To do: CREATE ENGAGING CONTENT. The all-caps are intentional. Good, hearty, original, engaging content is essential.
Start by: First things first: Ensure the product descriptions are simple and detailed. If the shopper can’t find basic information, nothing else matters. From there, build a rollout plan for fresh content with a regular update schedule.
For example: Instructional videos, podcasts, descriptive guides, ideas for uses, case studies, research stats. The sky is the limit, so long as the content is helpful, guiding, and supportive of the product.
Obstacle: Time and coming up with original ideas for content. And avoiding content for content’s sake, which is a waste of team productivity and a fruitless distraction for shoppers.
To do: Ensure the experience on your brand’s website is as strong and enjoyable as your retailers’ websites.
Start by: Streamlining the user flow and focusing on getting consumers to what they want and the answers they want faster. Then, make sure the product features are robust and identical to what’s on the retailers’ sites, and pricing is comparable.
For example: Over 60% of consumers head to the brand website after searching for a product and seeing the brand’s website pop up on a search engine. They are looking for more detail and information about their product options, ways to validate pricing and features
Obstacle: Not knowing where to start. Luckily, best practices abound. Hyland's VP of ecommerce Garrett Bluhm shared his advice, and we have a list of best practices around the creating powerful shopping experiences on our blog. You can also download our guide to winning at distributed commerce.
To do: Offer clear and plentiful shipping options that capture the customers’ attention.
Start by: Invent a pricing structure or brand loyalty program allowing for free shipping, then loudly market this perk as part of your brand’s appeal. In most cases, free shipping is equivalent to a 10-15% discount and it’s much faster than overhauling your fulfillment flow.
For example: Home Depot goes beyond free shipping and excels in convenience. Many attribute their steady double-digit growth of online sales to the new “buy box,” which allows digital customers to select whether their product is delivered or picked up in store. As a result, more than 40% of online orders were picked up, helping to reinforce Home Depot’s omnichannel presence.
Obstacle: Margin. We get it, but without free shipping options, customers go elsewhere. There’s no way around it. These days, free shipping is essential to brand loyalty.
To do: Make sure the product being searched is actually available on your site.
Start by: Check inventory and replenish in-demand, low stocks. If the inventory sells out before replenishment, insert content or upbeat messaging in its place, especially within site search results.
For example: Instead of leading the shopper to a dead end with “product cannot be found” or “product is not available” messaging, drive them to similar products or informational content to keep them engaged.
Obstacle: The website backend updates might take your team some time, but keeping the customer on your site is worth it.
This is the second part in a series on Supporting the Buyer’s Journey, you can read about Part I - Bringing Discovery to Shoppers, Part III - Helping Shoppers Buy and Part IV - Boosting Your Customer Relationships Post Sale.