Let’s face it. The shopping experience has made a few shifts over the past few decades…and it all starts before the customer even lands on your website. A consumer, no matter what they are shopping for, follows the same decision flow every time: awareness, consideration, decision, purchase.
Awareness is all about how a shopper finds out about your product or service. Online advertising? Social media ad or influencer post? Radio commercial or billboard? Friendly reference? There are so many ways to push your product. Email campaigns, SMS, blogs, and vlogs, as well as keeping up social profiles on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Maintaining accurate data on Google My Business (GMB) profile and on your website is also vital because the top source for finding local information is GMB listings/profiles (in search results), followed by the business’ website, and GMB profile (in Google Maps). The key is finding the right mix of actions for your business.
Then there’s consideration. Today’s consumers are highly educated, spending hours researching your product or service and comparing it to your competitors. Question one you need to answer about your business. Are you easy to find? Do you have social profiles? If so, are they active? Keep your content updated and relevant.
Once they do find you, do you have good reviews? During this stage of shopping, a consumer likes to learn more about the product from sources they can trust – aka other consumers. It’s important to have good references and ratings on sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook. Poor ratings can kill a sale before you even have a chance to interact with the consumer. This relates directly to the whole “trust” issue. Can they trust you (especially with higher value items)? When they receive your product will it fulfill their expectations (ie. quality equals what was promised, look like it’s picture, is not broken or damaged, etc.)?
And provide value! Make sure you provide quality information that goes beyond what you are selling. If they see you as a company that goes above and beyond selling to provide something “extra” for them, you are more likely to win their business. People like brands they can relate to or that make them feel a part of a larger community.
Now for the decision. They like what you are selling and have decided to purchase with you. You have gained their trust and have won over your competitors for their attention. They are on your site and it’s time to NOT LOSE THEM! Let’s face it, you can love a product, but if it is a cumbersome process, our attention spans tend not to last long enough to follow through with an actual purchase.
It’s time to check the appearance and functionality of your website. Is your website clean and easy to navigate? Do you have enough inventory (options, variety, customization)? Does your store load quickly? Is there enough information about each product?
Think of how you would have your sales person try to up-sell and cross-sell a buyer in a physical store. Now you have to apply those sales techniques through visual cues on your site. Are there good promotions and bundle options readily available? Are they easy to understand and use?
Finally, let’s hone in on the most important phase of a consumer’s shopping experience: the purchase. Making their shopping experience flawless needs to apply from point A to point Z. You don’t want to suffer from cart abandonment issues by not providing the best options from shipping to alternative payment options at checkout.
Ask yourself these questions. Once your shopper selects the perfect item(s), how easy is it for them to place their order? Is it a secure site that will protect their information (referring once again to the whole trust issue)? Can they fill in their information easily? Is your website mobile friendly? Are the shipping options reasonable? Do you have sales options readily available? Are there alternative payment options available? (Read more about how installment payments can increase your average order value). How difficult is the financing application process? Are there hidden fees and interest involved? Will it impact their credit score? Is there enough (understandable) information available about these financing options available?
There are a lot of details to pay attention to, and there are always ways to improve this process to meet new or still unmet needs. Check in with your own online shopping experience today to make sure your customers push the “buy now” button every time.