Creating an experience that rivals in-store is one of the ongoing challenges for ecommerce brands.
Customers now expect a consistently convenient and memorable occurrence at every touch point, from researching online at their desks and reading reviews on their mobile device while in-store, to receiving the item at their front door.
Brands that can provide this consistency and successfully extend their core values into a customer's home via a premier branded packaging experience can transform a mundane process into an unforgettable event. Taking the proper steps can help create a greater connection to the customer to increase lifetime value and improve your bottom line.
Increased Personalization Boosts Sales
We all know that today's consumers typically learn about an item's price and features online. They also read reviews and compare alternatives from the convenience of their homes and offices. More and more of this research, however, is taking place in-store via smartphones. Learning how to effectively collect and use data on customers' purchase histories and shopping habits across each of these access points is critical.
It is imperative to not place data collected via desktop, mobile and in-person in separate silos so it is not viewed myopically. Consolidating this data can lead to more accurate sales records by eliminating the possibility of overcounting sales or customers, which can limit the ability to analyze individual shoppers' true behaviors. It can make it possible for a brand to create a truly personalized shopping experience across every channel, increasing the likelihood for repeat shoppers.
With more accurate purchase information compiled across all channels via robust technologies including but not limited to customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, omnichannel brands can convey more relevant suggestions or alternatives to customers when they return to websites and use a brand's app. Recommending items and promotions that more closely align with a customer's purchasing history increases the likelihood that they will buy said items. Data from online shopping habits also can be used by in-store sales associates to provide exceptional customer service.
Brands that can merge channels to create these forms of personalization have noticed increased revenues from 6-to-10%1, which is two to three times faster than those who cannot. If a retailer can create and maintain an image of knowing what customers want and help them make meaningful purchases or simply answer questions at every touch point, increased sales and satisfied shoppers will certainly follow.
Convenience Builds Customer Loyalty
Customers want the ability to quickly and easily shop for, receive and return items. While brands may have different reasons for success on certain channels, the best strategy involves combining all of them to create a seamless shopping experience. Perhaps the most important benefit of this tactic is the added convenience for customers in the form of variety. Whether it's affordability, speed or simplicity, consumer preferences for the ideal experience will differ. Combining the benefits of each method via a seamless blend of channels can provide the best option for e-retailers, as it allows customers to choose the shopping and delivery options that best fit their needs.
One way to make an everyday brand experiences more convenient is to align the website properties with all physical locations as part of a robust omnichannel strategy. Brick-and-mortar stores must act as extensions of the ecommerce experience by offering the same items and serving as access points to new capabilities that merge online and in-store channels. Specifically, more consumers are using buy online and pickup or return in-store (BOPIS/BORIS) methods, mostly to save on shipping costs and because it is more convenient. Using these methods can help convert online shoppers into in-store customers, as well. Research2 has shown that 75% of customers will buy additional items when picking up their online purchases in stores. Another beneficial capability would be ship from store, which can potentially satisfy the need for fast shipping if items are available in retail locations that are relatively close to your customers. The added convenience from these features can serve as a differentiator for brands, which is invaluable with so many ecommerce options for consumers.
Unboxing Experiences Expand Reach
Brands should always look for opportunities to connect with customers and build loyalty. ecommerce brands can make receiving an order more memorable by making it seem as if a special gift has arrived. By doing so, there will be elevated levels of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin released in the brain3, three chemicals associated with desire and excitement. They compel people to repeat the action to recreate the feelings they cause, leading to more frequent purchases. Plus, oxytocin is often associated with trust and sharing, making consumers more likely to spread the word about their experience, potentially increasing your brand's reach. This is paramount for encouraging positive online reviews, which 85% of shoppers4 trust as much as personal recommendations.
Improving the presentation of packaging can motivate customers to produce unboxing videos typically shown on sites such as Instagram and YouTube. Surprisingly, watching these videos can have a neurochemical effect on viewers, causing them to feel as if they're opening the box even though they're only watching someone else do it.
To maximize the likelihood that your unboxing experience creates a lasting effect on customers, incorporate a multi-sense approach that goes far beyond appearance. You should also consider the texture, weight, sounds and even aromas of the materials used. Making this process more exciting brings the brand experience into your customers' homes. Unboxers can eventually become brand advocates who help extend your brand's reach to new potential customers. This is especially important for reaching younger shoppers, as studies5 reveal that they respond better to these influencers than traditional celebrities.
It has become increasingly obvious that product quality and price are no longer the only determining factors when consumers make a purchase. In fact, customer experience may soon become the most significant element that shoppers consider when making that all-important decision. By adding convenience via a seamless blend of available channels, properly compiling purchase data to create a more accurate representation of shopping habits and extending your brand values into customers' homes, you can create positive brand experiences that encourage the repeat sales needed to grow your business.
About the Author:Maria Haggerty is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dotcom Distribution.