The lockdown has prompted the rise of ‘self-service eCommerce’ as shoppers are finding ways to buy and connect with brands that they would not have considered before. Rob Delijani, Senior Director at BounceX looks at how retailers and brands can make the most of this emerging trend and marketing opportunity.
eCommerce has been on a rollercoaster ride since the outbreak of Covid-19. Many online retailers have seen sales soar as shoppers seek alternative ways to access goods and services during lockdown conditions. With shops closed, consumers have embraced the notion of self-service eCommerce – meaning they are starting to take it upon themselves to find ways to buy and connect with brands that they would not have considered before.
Those eCommerce players who understand what their new and existing digital customers are telling them, can make the most of this huge marketing opportunity.
Seismic shift to online ordering and delivery
New data from IMRG reveals how certain categories saw unprecedented demand in April in the UK. The online beauty sector, for example, saw a nearly 140% rise in the first week of April, while electricals rose 90% and home and garden rose 70%.
So how to impress and retain these eager new customers who are suddenly hitting the buy button? Retailers with ecommerce capabilities need to perform spectacularly well and deliver on the promise of ease and convenience if newly-acquired customers are to remain with your brand.
Brands must also begin building relationships, and embarking on relevant conversations, so that the digital connection with the new arrivals endures. The focus now must be on identifying consumers, and enticing them back again and again with relevant, one-to-one messaging.
Boost satisfaction with eCommerce ‘self-service’
The ‘perfect’ customer experience is hard to define. Understanding it requires retailers to read digital behaviour and tailor experiences and messaging accordingly.
We know that today’s discriminating customers – particularly the newcomers – demand self-service capabilities for every aspect of their online shopping experience. Just by offering customers the self-service tools they want, such as virtual fitting room capabilities or personalised size and fit tools for example, you’re raising their satisfaction levels and putting them in the right frame of mind for on-going interaction with your brand. How they use these tools provides a wealth of behavioural data for you to analyse – for instance helping you spot the high intent users and begin to nurture them.
Naturally shoppers frustrated at the limitations of the Covid-19 lockdown want access to real-time inventory choice and stock availability information, and the options for click and collect, or curb-side pick-up. Product research also falls into the self-service domain, so offering customer reviews and detailed product descriptions and images will be essential.
Show them you can be trusted
Customers also expect real-time information on product orders, status, and delivery times that they can easily track the progress of an order. At this time of upheaval, and with many first-time ecommerce shoppers venturing onto your website, trust is everything.
Customers also want to be able to quickly find answers to their questions on your site, whether it be by search, in an FAQ section, or in a customer forum. A trusted website should offer consumers the option to establish a registered account, which enables you to provide more personalised, tailored content while strengthening self-service functionality and customer loyalty.
This kind of registration offers the chance to engage customers with user reviews, customised communications, blogs, wish lists, events, and more.
Engage shoppers based on behaviour
The key to creating a long-term connection with customers is identifying who they are, and then providing the most relevant digital experience to them based on their behaviours.
Self-service ecommerce reveals a great deal about customers – what they want, how they want to be served. From here the retailer or brand can begin to establish deeply humanised connections. These are the most powerful, because they’re grounded in an understanding of the digital consumer and how their behaviours translate into real relationships.
The rollercoaster ride is slowing, so now, more than ever, retailers need to pay attention to what their digital consumers are telling them and offer up online experiences that allow the customer to self-serve online in a supported manner.
By Rob Delijani
Senior Director of Growth Strategy