Marie Despringhere, UK Country Manager, Optimizely, discusses the importance of optimising the online experience for quality as the difficulty in identifying product quality is the number one (41%) online frustration when it comes to consumers.
Online customers fail to complete online purchases for a variety of reasons; but the fact that difficulty in identifying product quality is the number one (41%) online frustration should be a concern for retailers. There are clear opportunities to transform the quality of the online experience; Marie Despringhere, UK Country Manager, Optimizely, calls on retailers to get creative with product presentation and leverage testing and personalisation techniques to deliver a truly relevant and engaging experience that will drive up conversions.
While retailers are constantly looking to assess the reasons for consumers failing to convert online, many may be surprised by the number that head in-store. Some 74% of UK consumers research and browse online – but then opt to potentially complete the purchase in store, according to research undertaken by Opinionography on behalf of Optimizely regarding consumer shopping habits across Europe. For these respondents, the vast majority say that it is the ability to see, touch or try the product and ensure its quality that drives them in-store.
The fact that so many consumers are heading in-store to check the look, feel and quality of a product suggests that retailers may be missing a trick. Why are customers failing to get an accurate, trustworthy view of the product online? The concern is not just that retailers may be missing out on those customers that don’t manage to make it to a bricks and mortar outlet but also that poor product description will also have a knock on effect on returns, damaging overall profitability.
At the most basic level, retailers need to be testing customers’ reactions to different presentation options – for example, testing options with or without models, or showing pictures from different angles. Critically there is no one size fits all approach – consumer response can vary by category type and between demographics. For example, one retailer discovered that although in general products sold better when displayed on a model, this did not apply to baby clothes which sold better with a simple photograph of the clothes. It is also important to test the value – or not – of product reviews on the customer base, as well as the performance and display of options of individual items / categories in services such as click & collect or reserve & collect.
But that is just the beginning: retailers, especially fashion retailers, have a chance to get really creative with product presentation. Would a catwalk section – as seen on ASOS – work well? Or the option for a customer to input sizes and create her own mannequin upon which chosen products can be displayed to get a better understanding of how they will look in real life? For retailers of high end and luxury goods, there is the option of adding video to the mix, as well as product configurators to provide the customer with an even more engaging experience. Again, it is important to test the success of these initiatives on a subset of the audience to assess their overall effectiveness and value.
This optimisation of product presentation also ties into the overall drive towards personalising the online experience. Once a retailer has gained insight into the overall preferences of the customer base, options can be personalised – for example, ensuring the reviews section is highlighted for individuals who use this feature regularly, promoting the ‘create your own mannequin’ option or presenting items in similar fabrics or complementary colourways. By harnessing and personalising innovative techniques for product description retailers can not only encourage more customers to convert online but also avoid expensive returns.
By Marie Despringhere
UK Country Manager