Ride the online shopping wave

The recession-resilient e-retail sector in the UK is booming and is expected to double over the next ten years. But despite this, online average conversion rates are down compared to the same time last year, indicating a disconnect between marketing strategies and consumer wants.

And as consumer trust in online retail grows, so does their savviness around how to seek out the best deals – with price comparison and consumer review sites booming as a result. So how can brands keep customers on their sites, transferring their clicks into ka-chings?

Be brave

Imagine buying a car – you do the research online, read reviews and confirm how much you can afford. Then, ready to make the purchase, go to the garage and have the frustration of going through everything again or being offered a different car!

But imagine a second scenario – engage with the car dealer’s website online, get all information from the website including quotes, and even speak to someone from the garage online offering feedback and advice. Then, once you’ve made your decision, all you need to do is wait for a knock on the door to test drive the car. Pure-play channels such as Amazon are very good at combining this offline knowledge with online, but multi-channel retailers still have a long way to go.

So what can companies do to help increase conversion figures? Firstly, they need to get into their consumer’s mindset and understand what they are doing and why. It’s about being clever, having a single, multi-channel customer view and being brave enough to action it.

Some companies have started launching price comparison sections within their websites or, on the other side, have withdrawn from price comparison aggregators altogether. Both are bold steps, but help drive consumers back to their website.

Get the facts right 

Know the customer inside out, using insight, signals and triggers – from birthdays to dropped shopping baskets – and integrate them with interactions and service data to create truly tailored campaigns. Reach consumers at all points of the buying process – both online and offline – for a seamless experience, and innovate using new technologies like web chat, IM and mobile.

Collect as much data as possible – from surveys and contact information to basket analysis, IP and email address data to better understand a customer’s buying behaviour. By integrating this data with offline insights, brands can harness that intelligence to better engage with customers, encouraging them to buy more, do more and stay customers for longer.  Measurement is a key part of this – understanding where the customer dropped off in the buying process, and how to draw them back.

Only through careful analysis of customer data can retailers understand who they should target with each campaign and how each message should be carried. And it’s definitely worth the effort – a well-targeted customer is most likely to purchase and continue to do so, increasing conversion rates.

By Kevin Telford, director, Callcredit Information Group

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