Competition today among retailers has never been more heated. Catalogs, superstores, home-shopping television channels and online stores are all vying for the same valued customers and without significant competitive advantages, retailers can be lost in the shuffle.
When competing for these customers, you must make them feel important. Personalizing the consumer shopping experience and enhancing consumers’ worth go hand in hand, ultimately leading to long-term rewards, customer loyalty and repeat sales.
For online retailers, however, this personalization is more difficult. People have been trying to bridge the gap between consumers and online stores since the induction of the Internet.
Consumers are more familiar with the one-on-one physical interaction with a salesperson when shopping and may have difficulty in taking recommendations via the Web. The lack of actual interaction can be hard to overcome, but with the right software you can form a relationship.
Supplying customer reviews, asking pertinent questions and offering relevant suggestions will attract consumers and bring them to your site. Furthermore, providing these services will help retailers keep consumers on their Websites, rather than having them go somewhere else to research or shop.
But many retailers don’t offer these essential services to customers, and this will severely hinder their sales over time. The following five mistakes retailers make on the Websites shows how merchants are hurting their sales performance by lacking some critical services.
• Capitalize at the checkout. Retailers often waste the opportunity to include up-sell and cross-sell items at the product detail page and checkout. This is a good time to make product recommendations based on their current shopping basket items.
And don’t just stop at one recommendation—give the customer several. If you’re recommending a laptop, also suggest printers, speakers, a carrying case, etc. Statistics show that upselling and cross-selling can increase an individual sale by almost a whole item (from 1.1 to 1.9). The sale is never over!
• It’s all about personalization. When promoting upsell and cross-sell items, retailers make the mistake of providing generic product recommendations. Take the time to not only recommend products that fit the consumers’ purchases, but tailor the recommendation to a consumer’s brand affinity or price sensitivity and always take product compatibility into account.
• Deliver personalized messages. Take advantage of e-mail and text messaging; they are both an effective means of enhancing the consumer’s experience. These allow the consumer to view the retailer as more than just another merchant—they become a trusted advisor in the consumer’s shopping experience.
• Supplement the traditional sales associate. Use product recommendation software as an augmentation tool to enhance the conventional salesperson’s knowledge of product recommendations. The right software can make all the difference.
• Hit all media channels. Leverage recommendations across all channels of business—Web, store, catalog, call center, etc. Familiarize your staff with your product recommendation software. Offer in-store kiosks that can offer vital suggestions to customers who may be unsure of their purchases or unable to find salespeople.
Internet sales may be increasing, but about two-thirds of users of recommendation software indicate a desire to make their purchases via traditional retail stores. Make sure everyone is on the same page!
Eric Tobias is founder/president at personalization and recommendation software provider iGoDigital.