As a product or service provider in this highly technological, eCommerce age, it can often be easy to forget that the mythical ‘end user’ we hear so much about, is actually a real-life human being. A person whose online shopping behaviour is continuously evolving and is often dictated by a growing increase in their knowledge, a desire for immediate gratification and a web of options so huge it leaves them spoilt for choice.
Before internet, when a ‘shopping cart’ was a metal structure with four, albeit wonky wheels, we in the commercial world made sure we not only knew our customers, but focused on understanding them.
So what happened?
In short, eCommerce websites happened. And while many of us were scrabbling to create the necessary sites, mobile apps and pop-ups, we lost focus on the other side of our business — providing our now online consumers, with what they really need or want.
This was a huge period of change and adaptation for all of us — and let’s be honest, the evolution isn’t yet complete. E-commerce has already had a dramatic impact on Australian retail sales, with even the biggest retailers forced onto eCommerce websites in order to compete. The average spend, per online consumer in Australia in 2012, was over $2,100.
Size and location of stores were once our biggest considerations. Now to be truly successful — and it doesn’t matter if you’re a global giant or a boutique brand — you have to think long and hard about eCommerce website design, online shopping behaviour and just how and why online consumers would choose to fill their shopping cart in your store over others.
With information literally at their fingertips, Australian eCommerce shoppers have more power than ever before. They are informed and they are no longer subject to our face-to-face selling techniques. They use social media to get peer input into the best products because they trust people over brands. Even if not using eCommerce websites to close the sale online, they will often use the web to research their purchase before they make it in the real world.
So what does this mean for us?
Now, more than two decades since the web first popped up, it’s time to get back in touch with our customers, to understand our online consumers — and in doing so, significantly increase our success. And while how we provide our customer service has had to adapt — we can’t personally reassure or physically shake someone’s hand anymore — it is important we get back to basics. A foundation for understanding our Australian eCommerce shoppers and capitalising on this, is knowing the three clearly distinguishable personalities of online consumers and how they relate to online shopping behaviour.
The information-rich, time-poor shopper
Obvious from the name, this shopper knows what they want and according to our research will bounce right back out of your site within five seconds if they can’t find it with a few rapid clicks.
How to handle them: In this case, considering your eCommerce website design can really impact online shopping behaviour. Ensure you have a simple search bar, consistent across all pages, in the top right corner of your site. These time-poor shoppers can type in a few letters, prompting suggestions in the search panel, and want results pages that show related products to save them even more time.
The tech-UNsavvy, security-conscious shopper
These customers can be tricky as they have a predisposition to feel a little unsure about eCommerce and online buying. They are worried about their security and not quite sure what clicks will lead to where.
How to handle them: As these users become more confident, their online shopping behaviour will evolve. To build that confidence, your big messages will need to be about customer service, security and trust — highlight your refund and returns policies to exemplify that you ‘walk the walk’ you don’t just ‘talk the talk’. Another great tip is including some basic prompt questions that will give them ideas on what products most suit their needs.
The time-rich, experiential shopper
You’ve seen them in stores and now you can see them online — those customers who simply enjoy the shopping experience. They like to browse, to try, to shop around, to fill up their shopping cart and eventually, to buy. These shoppers have converted to great online customers as their love of shopping means they don’t want to miss out on a potential new browsing and online buying experience.
How to handle them: Keep in mind these customers tend to give in to impulse and can get distracted by sales and visuals — so use this to your advantage. Make sure your imagery is professional and well laid-out for maximum impact. Enhance your customers’ eCommerce experience by treating them — surprise sales, special products and exclusive offers are great tools!
Overall, our experts suggest you can capitalise most successfully on their online shopping behaviour by appealing to their visual nature, but also ensuring an enjoyable experience through simple navigation and strong site design.
Perhaps the most important rule that everyone developing an eCommerce site should remember, is to never assume you know what the customers want. Assumptions like this can lead to site design, functionality and a look and feel that deters, rather than attracts your customers.
As digital experts, we understand that no matter how many years’ of experience you have in site building or business, guesswork never achieves optimal results. Every site we develop is subject to strenuous user testing and consumer focus groups — and the results we get can often be surprising! While understanding your customers is important, a key step in your eCommerce strategy should always be to ask their opinion before you launch.
Check out www.platformdigital.com.au to learn more about optimising your ecommerce site and developing your human experience strategy so you can attract and cater to all of your customers.
For more information about developing your eCommerce strategy, please contact Platform on (02) 9911 7788.