It’s Personal: 4 Ways to Personalise Online Selling
Humanising eCommerce Branding
At first glance, the title above might sound like a contradiction. An in-store experience is a personal journey from beginning to end. Upon stepping in, in-store personnel should greet customers with warm smiles, ready to assist them at all times. Furthermore, being able to physically thumb through books on a shelf or clothes on a rack are tangible experiences that only a retail environment can afford. Comparatively, the internet is a depersonalised space, with business owners and customers interacting anonymously. The overall user experience (UX) is limited to the borders of a smart-device screen. The goal of eCommerce branding space is to compensate for those limitations.
Today, web design agencies like ours have found ingenious ways to bridge those limitations between the in-store and online domains. Embedding these approaches into your eCommerce branding strategy not only enhances your UX strategy but how your digital sales funnel qualifies prospective onlookers into cheerful customers. More notably, being the first mover in the crowded eCommerce branding space boosts your brand’s equity (how customers perceive your brand etc.) vis-a-vis your direct competitors.
Personalising the impersonal brings your brand closer to your intended audience. In return, your business would reap improved sales-conversion numbers, brand equity and long-term, customer loyalty. In this feature, we explore 4 novel methods to modernise and elevate your eCommerce branding strategy.
1. Survey Questions
In retail, having well-trained staff helps you match customers to the products that best satisfy their needs. To do so, store personnel are expected to prompt, listen and understand your customer and their pain points by asking a series of questions.
Unfortunately, an online storefront does not offer an identical level of dynamic interaction and on-demand assistance. However, customer queries tend to share similarities rather than differences. By compiling a list of their most commonly asked questions, you can aggregate those pain points into a matrix.
Based on the recurring pain points you have identified, compile a series of close-ended prompts that an in-store clerk would typically pose to a customer during the sales-conversion process. Depending on your customers’ answers, direct their attention to a product offering (or offerings) in your catalogue that corresponds to their answers.
Essentially, a digital pre-qualifying survey mimics the in-store clerk-client interaction, providing fixed recommendations based on a narrow set of prompts. Typically, these surveys are encoded into your website’s storefront from the backend. While it isn’t as thorough or natural as an in-store interaction, automating it simplifies the sorting process. Shortened sales conversion times, alongside the inexpensive upfront cost of integrating this digital solution into your eCommerce branding strategy, lower customer acquisition costs over time.
Minimise their search costs by integrating a fuss-free, pre-qualifying survey instead of having them skim through a carousel of 20 products.
Exhibit A: Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club is a Californian company that specialises in Men’s personal grooming products. What makes them unique, is their direct-to-consumer, subscription model that periodically sends their products by mail.
Given their extensive portfolio of products, the choice overload will likely paralyse potential customers from making a final decision. Using a pre-qualifying survey of 6 questions with fixed answers, their website automatically curates a list of goods in response to their answers. Taking out the guesswork streamlines the buyer’s journey. Pair that with low asking prices and you have a recipe for eCommerce branding success.
Given Dollar Shave Club’s pervasiveness as an affordable shaving brand and its staggering $1 billion acquisition by Unilever, it pays to ask the correct questions.
2. Live Chat
Fancy a chat? All you need to do is capture the attention of nearby staff in any retail setting with an innocent tap on their shoulders. Thankfully, the prevalence of messaging apps has managed to bring that offline experience online. Live Chat is a messaging service that allows business representatives to connect and communicate with website visitors in real-time.
Generally, the Live Chat feature exists as a chat widget situated at the bottom left corner of each website. Customers simply click on the icon to bring up the Live Chat hub, enabling them to speak to an official representative. Should your enterprise’s live agents find themselves overrun with customer cases, queue numbers can be automatically issued to customers who wish to interact with a live agent.
What’s more, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot can provide rudimentary answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) or direct online shoppers to a FAQ sub-page during non-work hours. Customer agents can then concentrate their efforts on complex, time-consuming cases instead. How you choose to customise your Live Chat bot is entirely dependent on the nature of your industry.
Time-poor customers prefer the spontaneity of live chat without the mutual awkwardness of a phone call, or sluggish email responses with an average 2-3 day wait time. A 2022 survey organised by Zendesk discovered that 47% of customers feel that their experiences are a mere afterthought, citing long waiting times and poor customer service. Additionally, the Live Chat feature eliminates hold-ups and question-answer latencies, giving your customers the resolution they desire by lowering average case handling times. Beneficially, lowered turnaround time reduces the cost to do business over time, whilst offering the opportunity for cross-selling. Customer data aggregated from your business’s day-to-day interactions also offers unobstructed insight into weaknesses across your eCommerce branding strategy. All in all, It’s a win-win situation for all parties.
Exhibit B: Amazon Australia Live Chat
Amazon is the world’s most prominent, online retail platform. With a market cap of 1.158 trillion USD, they are a renowned bastion for impeccable customer service, their UX and online user interface (UI) working harmoniously to deliver an unparalleled level of customer service.
Their live chat service is no exception. As part of their branch of customer service features, live chat is the last-resort option if their assemblage of common answers to common queries fails to meet their customers’ needs. While a last-resort option may seem counterintuitive to the “personal approach” to online selling, it is worth noting that Amazon’s enormous customer base makes it virtually impossible to serve them equally. More importantly, the casting-a-wide-net approach addresses recurring, customer pain points in a cost-efficient fashion.
Regardless, Amazon’s holistic customer-support strategy attempts to keep case handling times to a minimum whilst offering a swift resolution to chief questions their online customers may have.
3. Virtual Showcases
Showrooms offer customers a visceral experience like no other. While customers cannot commiserate online in the same way they do in a physical showroom, seeing is still believing.
Traditionally, digital photography is used to showcase a product’s performance and appearance in the use-case scenario it was designed for. In other circumstances, customers would like to see firsthand how the product functions or looks in tandem with others.
However, eCommerce branding solutions have evolved to deliver a captivating UX. Virtually showcasing products on social media platforms such as Instagram offers a new layer of interactivity to delight online shoppers. More importantly, Instagram allows online businesses to curate products into a merchandise collection, each tag corresponding to the items featured in your post. Each tag brings the user to a separate page listing the product’s price and specifications, alongside a button prompt that transports them to your official website. Interested customers may then choose to complete their purchase.
Instagram Shopping Collections allow customers to visualise how your products look and perform in their intended environments. The ability to curate collections encourages you to be creative in how you cross-sell or promote inventory. Akin to an enticing storefront window, customers that like what they see can freely choose to access your website to make a purchase. With 83% of Instagram users discovering new products/services on the platform, Instagram is an excellent way to expand your online catchment area.
While Instagram offers a value proposition, what happens if customers want to customise your product offerings to meet their aesthetic preferences?
Exhibit C: Ikea’s Virtual Planners
Ikea is the world’s favourite furniture retailer. Visiting their sprawling showroom has become a tried-and-true tradition amongst young Australian families. But Ikea’s website takes the showroom experience one step further.
Ikea has programmed DIY planners that enable customers to mix and match their products in a virtual showcase. On top of that, online visitors can freely choose between planners, each representing varied sections of the house. Offering customers that level of customizability allows them to see which furnishings work well together, and which don’t. Some categories even let customers fully customise specific furnishings.
Customers need not hire a dedicated interior designer to determine what works best for them. The world is the customer’s oyster, and Ikea successfully lives by that mantra.
4. Lightning-Fast Shipping
What happens when cash exchanges hands in a store setting? The product is in the customer’s hands once the transaction is complete. Unfortunately, it is not quite as spontaneous in the eCommerce domain.
Unless you’re Amazon, same-day delivery is a near impossibility. To make matters worse, humans have a natural proclivity for expecting immediate benefits, whilst delaying costs. Online shopping achieves the inverse, delaying benefits and bringing costs forward.
Given persistent domestic and international shipping delays with Auspost, renowned courier services such as FedEx are a speedier alternative. However, courier services charge more exorbitant fees for faster delivery. Shipping costs are an expense that businesses can wilfully absorb or impose on the online shopper. A healthy compromise would be to diversify the number of shipping options being offered. Allow your customers to decide for themselves, offering them economic, priority and express shipping options. Economic shipping could be offered as a complementary option, should your business’s cash flow accommodate it.
Moreover, some goods are fragile and require extra care and attention. The rough nature of shipping and handling may result in broken or damaged goods arriving at your customers’ doorsteps. Depending on the nature of your inventory, signing up for modest, freight insurance coverage eliminates the potential costs associated with those risks.
Shipping a product faster than a competitor with a substitute good contributes to the actual value of your promised UX. Do not underestimate the influential power of chronic impatience in eCommerce web development.
An Omnichannel Experience
The central focus of this article is to emphasise the importance of a personalised, UX in the impersonal, internet arena. eCommerce development and branding is a cut-throat space defined by bullish competitors vying for customer attention and brand influence. Humanising the touch-and-go experience of eCommerce puts you miles ahead of businesses failing to connect with their audiences.
However, focusing on individual channels in your UX strategy in isolation hinders your ability to deliver a high-quality, omnichannel experience. Every omnichannel experience strives for a seamless, customer experience across multiple channels or touchpoints. Customers choose how and where they interface with your business on their terms. Naturally, a resilient, UX strategy requires synchronicity amongst all digital channels on a macro level.
Understanding where each cog fits in your UX strategy demands a clinical grasp of consumer psychology and industry-leading marketing practices. A Brisbane Digital Agency like ourselves has a diverse background in UX strategy, fully understanding the intricacies that constitute UX. Our expertise in branding and marketing informs how we fine-tune touchpoints in your UX, guaranteeing a high-quality, omnichannel experience.
More crucially, as a Brisbane web agency, our knowledgeable team has 10 years of front-end and back-end development experience. These technical skills cannot be mastered overnight; it requires years of strict practice and on-the-ground experience. Our expert-level proficiency in all things coding means we can integrate our technical recommendations into your UX strategy with ease.
Whatever UX bottlenecks afflict your brand, we’d love to help you overcome them as equal partners. Book a meeting with us, and let’s chat about how we can help enhance your eCommerce branding strategy.
Let’s talk, don’t be a stranger.