It’s no secret that the coronavirus outbreak has uprooted the retail sector. And while it’s true that shoppers are hitting the high street in their droves now lockdown measures have eased, the bigger marketplaces are still winning out when it comes to footfall and overall sales.
Even the Queen of Shops herself, Mary Portas, would be hard pushed to find a winning solution for smaller brands in the current climate. After all, it’s not just the bricks-and-mortar stores that are suffering; online brands – both large and small – are increasingly struggling to attract consumers to their websites. And, once they have got them there, it’s just as challenging to stop them from peeling off and buying the very same item from ASOS or eBay instead.
Just one-in-eight (15%) online consumers now make a purchase on a branded site – which is a pretty alarming stat given that a third (33%) use branded sites to search for products in the first place. It means that half of those consumers shopping on branded sites then go elsewhere to buy. So, what can brands do to keep customers on their sites and, ultimately, translate website traffic into sales?
The Problem: Why Attraction Is No Longer Enough
When it comes to running a business that sells products online – whatever its size – attracting potential shoppers to the site is seen to be the more significant challenge. And it’s a challenge that doesn’t come cheap to overcome. In fact, it eats up an enormous amount of resources and budget.
But in businesses’ desire to drive customers to their sites, many are guilty of relegating the important matter of what to do with them once they get there. Increasingly, we’re seeing consumers using the likes of Amazon and Google for both inspiration and search – and transactions too. This means that consumers who do end up on branded sites become an invaluable commodity – and never more so than in today’s post-pandemic world, with the majority of shoppers moving to digital channels almost overnight.
There’s no question that it’s the marketing department that holds the key to turning clicks into conversion, but first, they must understand that the traditional linear purchase has become old hack in lockdown.
The Answer: Customer Experience Online Should Be a Priority
Many brands are caught between offering a one-size-fits-all experience and struggling with the utopia of hyper-personalization. The first is unimaginative and the second is often impossible to achieve so brands should be aiming somewhere in between – creating specific experiences that online consumers can tailor for themselves based on what it is they are shopping for, and how they want to shop for it.
In many cases, it’s about providing an experience that’s convenient and fast. Consumers are increasingly looking to make purchases with just the tap of a button. Here, it’s straightforward: easy to consume information that’s key, where there are minimal friction and an instant access checkout.
If a consumer is buying paint, for instance, they are likely to want to get through the process as quickly as possible and not be shown several other options when they know exactly what it is they need. It simply hinges on them having access to great search, digestible content to enable good decision making, and then a quick route to purchase. To take that further still, adding in the ability to subscribe and save can help get consumers hooked on a brand in an instant.
Ultimately, in order to provide consumers with the very best consumer experience and drive sales, organizations need to have the flexibility and agility to adapt as demand changes. Taking the time to look at where shopping journeys are abandoned and testing your own capabilities to learn and optimize in the future, will significantly improve any business’ attrition both now and in the future.