It’s no secret that consumers are flocking to online stores in droves. The retail industry is struggling and projected to continue doing so, as online shopping continues to grow. It’s essential for retail leadership teams to understand this trend in order to take advantage of it.
Customers love being able to shop online for a number of reasons:
- It’s more convenient
- There is more selection
- They can compare products/prices more easily
- Prices are often better
- It allows for discreet purchasing
Successful e-commerce platforms are based on an understanding of the reasons online shopping has become so popular.
Consult the best resource: your own experience
You likely have done a lot of online shopping yourself. One of the simplest ways to figure out what works and what doesn’t is to reflect on your experiences as a customer. What online stores have you bought from that impressed you? What impressed you about them? Take note of what you like and try and integrate those points into your own online e-commerce platform.
Pay attention to how other online stores (good and bad) handle the following:
- What are the return and exchange policies?
- Was the site easy to navigate?
- Was the customer service personable and of good quality?
- What unique features, products, or services do they offer that appear to be popular?
- How is their selection?
- How is their pricing?
Facilitate impulse buying without looking like you’re doing it
One important thing to remember is that many customers say they prefer to shop online because it often costs less and, most importantly, decreases impulse buying. Retail leadership can respect their wishes while still encouraging impulse buys with several strategies, including:
- Display similar products when a customer views an item or goes to checkout.
- Suggest other products that pair well with the product they are buying – for example, a case to go with a camera.
- Offer free shipping when spending a certain amount of money, which encourages people to buy additional items to meet that threshold.
These strategies net more business while making customers feel like you have helped supplement their purchase or provided them a good deal.
When customers shop online, both at your store and elsewhere, they leave behind a virtual treasure trove of data about their habits you can use to your advantage. It might even be worth hiring a data analyst or having a dedicated member of your marketing team constantly monitoring this data. After all, the Internet changes fast, and your customers’ habits and wants are likely to change over time. When something in the data changes, particularly if it is part of a trend, you need to make changes to accommodate it.
Display tour trustworthiness
Except for a handful of online retailers that nearly everyone knows and trusts, it’s not always apparent to customers whether an online store is trustworthy or an item they are considering purchasing is genuine. It can be especially hard to establish yourself when your business is new.
There are some measures you can take, such as being part of professional associations and having a website and storefront that look exceedingly professional, to demonstrate your integrity. For example, if you sell gemstones, certificates of diamond authenticity can reassure a customer and make them feel comfortable buying from you.
Online shopping is how products are sold now and will be into the future. All businesses that offer products must, at the very least, seriously consider opening up a digital storefront. As a leader, it’s important to understand what customers are looking for (and what they aren’t) when they go shopping online, then not only give them what they want, but use the medium to your company’s advantage.
To learn more about customer behavior, interactions, and habits, read the Digitalist Magazine Executive Research, Primed: Prompting Customers to Buy.