- Don-Alvin Adegeest |
London - To succeed at e-commerce in 2016 you need to be an editor, a stylist, an analyst as much as a brand.
Consumers today want their online journeys to be a multitude of things and brands must be able to fulfil complex online behaviours. Someone who is online browsing has a different expectation from someone searching for a specific item. How can a brand capitalise on this? Someone who is inspired to look at a brand's website after seeing a catwalk show or video is not the same as someone who sees an ad in the top right hand corner of a google page. How can we turn a consumer's interest into an e-commerce transaction?
Consumers expect a certain journalistic standard online
What is clear is that customers expect a certain journalistic standard and the point of differentiation becomes the content. Topman, for example, posts daily blog content around lifestyle subjects, such as fashion, grooming, music and design. They strive for relevance however steer clear of current news items, such as Brexit, as consumers will go to other sites for different content. A brand cannot be all things to all people.
Topman and Topshop have embraced the notion that the luxury mentality is filtering down to the high street in terms of shopping experience. Their merchandising in-store and their online content reflect this. While a shopper entering Primark will not have the same expectation as a shopper going to Prada, online behaviour is much more democratic.
Localisation drives growth
This democracy is in part driven by localisation. International brands have a global approach, but local connections are key to success. Brands have to keep tabs on consumers changes as tastes and desires change according to different regions. Users in Seoul have very different tastes from consumers in Moscow. Even someone browsing online at 11pm will have different expectations to someone online early morning.
While brands are pulling out all stops to keep their users engaged, it has become clear that consumers expect their online experience to reflect their current mood. For example, cookies will track history and preferences, even preferred brands and purchase history. Users do not want to see the same homepage and content if they visit a brand multiple times.
Non-shoppers are a category that brands should not neglect. These are users who save wish lists, share data and post likes on social media, but is yet to make a purchase. The value of a share or a like is much higher than seeing an advert, for example. Capturing consumers is thus about presenting a serendipitous experience that will entice them and start a dialogue, and that over time will result in a transaction.
Personalisation is a key driver
Personalisation has become a key driver for online success as 60 percent of consumers favour a tailored online experience. This means their expectations are constantly evolving. In brick and mortar stores there is discounting fatigue, but online there is content fatigue. Google research has shown that 87 percent of customers are willing to pay more for an item if the experience is personalised.
Brand engagement and personalisation are therefore regarded as valuable for consumers. Incentives can making the shopping experience more enticing and personal, such as Gap's mobile loyalty programme or having local stock updates on its app. An enhanced mobile experience is key and different from receiving let's say an email newsletter, notes Andrew Davis, Gap's Senior Manager Europe CRM.
Today's customer has all the power with abundant choices of which products to buy. Brands can provide a guided experience, have a dialogue, and make the experience more special with features such as customisation and personalisation. Surprising and delighting customers is the challenge. This experience, for example, cannot be found on Facebook, where once you click on a link, the same banners appear over and over, despite the user having no interest in purchasing the item.
Hence the growth of adblockers and why they are gaining in popularity. Users will happily give their personal info when they know they are signing up for something interesting or there is an incentive. It is up to brands to find out which incentives work best without compromising user data.