Bringing the Brick-And-Mortar Vibe to Buying Online

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More and more, consumers are leaving brick-and-mortar stores to buy online. In fact, countless reports from big brands state that online sales growth continues to outpace any in-store counterparts. In addition, a recent survey by Deloitte, LLP suggests that consumers are embracing online venues as a way to escape higher prices, poor selection, and dwindling sales staffs associated with the traditional in-store shopping venues. Consequently, competition on the Web is hotter than ever.

Many e-tailers are improving their competitive edge by mingling the human elements of the in-store shopping experience with the power of buying online. Here are a few tips to help humanize your website and keep visitors coming back:

See Your Site through the Eyes of Your Visitors

Innovations in a technique called co-browsing enable site visitors to enlist your guidance during their visit. With cobrowsing software, one can see what site visitors are interacting with on the site and walk them through the buying process — similar to interacting with a sales associate at a brick-and-mortar store. Through this process, the associate and customer arrive at the best solution, together. Co-browsing re-creates this experience by giving visitors virtual access to a human on the other end. In fact, co-browsing gives you the power to do everything with visitors from finding that perfect product to filling out forms at checkout.

Get Serious About Your CRM

If you don’t have one already, invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) system. With a CRM, you can keep track of everything from sales activities and customer service inquiries to the number of customers living in Boise, Idaho, who purchased bicycle helmets over the last two years

If you already have a CRM, find new ways to maximize your investment. If you are looking to add a new vendorprovided service to your mix, like live chat or email, make sure that you will be able to integrate those products with your CRM. For example, by integrating a CRM with live chat software your reps will have instant access to a visitor’s previous purchases, demographics and visit history. Reps can leverage this info during their chat conversations with visitors in the same way that brickand- mortar associates recognize and work with returning customers. Such interactions with visitors help build rapport and trust, further humanizing the experience of your website.

 

Analyze Results

Consider this: The overwhelming majority of brickand- mortar stores are largely unable to do genuine statistical analysis on what is working best in their shops. With the exception of high-volume big brands, most stores rely largely on anecdotal associate feedback about what works for customers and what doesn’t. Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of doing business online is the availability of products that provide data about your website which can be leveraged to improve the overall user experience and positively impact sales and brand loyalty.

Standards like Google Analytics do a great deal of heavy lifting, but there are also many complementary solutions to help you work smarter, not harder. Try testing the waters with options that drill into real-time insight and visitor monitoring. Some solutions even give you the ability to set up custom alerts, like shopping cart dollar amount thresholds or number of pages visited. “Listening” to this kind of individual and trending data gives you the power to further optimize the performance and usability of your sight, keeping visitors coming back.

With technology advancing constantly and competition sprouting up faster than ever, the need to differentiate your site by implementing new ways to transform and improve the buying experience for visitors is critical to continued success. Techniques that blend the best of shopping at a storefront with shopping online are likely to be the next evolution on the path to increasing conversions, boosting sales and strengthening brand loyalty.

About the Author: Michael Teitelbaum is Chief Executive Officer at Velaro, Inc., an award-winning live chat software-as-a-service provider.

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1 comment

JaquesC 07-02-2011 2:40 PM

I think the information within website magazine is out of this world.

Keep it up

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