What can SMBs do to better convert online traffic and drive bottom-line ROI? Let’s discuss.
By Sarah Assous
Small businesses often find that their consumers are more finicky, as they’re faced with numerous options from local stores, as well as big box retailers, especially when it comes to shopping online. And, chances are that they’re not fully addressing the digital pain points that plague modern consumers, often due to lacking resources and budgets that could be spent on technology to help alleviate these challenges.
For SMBs that often operate with limited budgets, utilizing these technologies that improve personalization sounds expensive, but there are ways to get around the larger costs. Many companies offer self-service models that make purchasing, implementing and maintaining the technology easier as well as significantly reducing the IT costs that companies so often have to deal with.
With major retailers closing their doors, it’s clear that online shopping is continuing its rampant upward trajectory. This presents a double-edged sword for SMBs – those that have found their niche online through trends like microbranding will see success. However, those that rely on traditional, outdated brick-and-mortar methods and haven’t adapted to modern shopping habits will fall victim to retail cannibalization.
Strategically leverage technology to create more engaging experiences
One of the key differences between shopping in-store and online is that when a consumer is distracted in-store, it’s often because they’re comparing products by the same brand, not necessarily a competitor. Compare this to online shopping where once potential shoppers are distracted, uninspired or bored, they’re quick to jump to a competitor due to convenience and access to vast amounts of additional data and information at the click of a button.
Facilitate a customer journey that resonates well with today’s shoppers and captures their attention throughout the entire path-to-purchase. Integrating approaches and technologies that make shopping more personal, interactive, convenient and engaging will keep consumers engaged long enough to make a purchase. This is especially important for SMBs who find their niche connecting on a more personal level with their audiences. A few strategies SMBs can incorporate include gamification techniques, interactive product guides and social shopping.
Provide product context, clarity and transparency
We, as consumers, are all too familiar with the frustration involved in receiving a product and it not looking, feeling or functioning as it was described online. This often stems from brands using overly-complicated messaging when describing products to make them seem entirely new-to-market or unique, but this often ends up backfiring. Unfortunately, it’s a critical mistake SMBs too often make, and can make all the difference between generating a conversion and brand loyalty and losing a sale to a competitor that provides more human friendly language and guidance. According to a recent Forrester report, 45% of US customers are likely to abandon an online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.
To avoid discouraging online shoppers, SMBs can invest in technology that helps consumers assess products easily and arm them with the information they need to feel comfortable making a purchase. Use language that consumers can understand rather than highly technical jargon. Since consumers are often not experts themselves, which is often forgotten by brands, this helps to ensure that they are more satisfied and confident when it comes time to hit “buy.”
Cut down on irrelevancy through fine-tuned personalization
When consumers are looking to buy products online, it’s often a process that involves a considerable amount of research and product comparisons. SMBs selling specialty items such as bikes or cameras offer hundreds of products which may appear similar to competitors’ products, but in reality, are very different. Consumers want products that will fit their specific personal needs, and it is on brands to personalize shopping experiences to help consumers determine what is right for them – which can be daunting given the vast number of products on the market, leading to choice overload. Personalizing recommendations based on consumers’ needs is critical.
Every consumer is different, so it’s important to understand and meet their individual requirements. By asking questions about the consumer to better understand their specific needs, SMBs can help guide them to the perfect product. This can be accomplished by leveraging emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and conversational marketing to gain deeper insights on consumers’ behavioral trends. The data derived from these interactions allows for SMBs to get even more personal with their recommendations.
Improving the overall online shopping experience for consumers will allow for more converted sales. Brands can better accomplish this by creating an engaging shopper experience, providing adequate product information and helping consumers understand the specs behind products. Implementing these strategies will help retailers and brands expand their consumer base long-term and truly reap the rewards they seek.
Sarah Assous is the SVP of Marketing for Zoovu.