Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back again to spend money. Customer experience is often as important, if not more so than the products we buy or the services we consume - we want to be valued and our every buying need to be taken care of. If we experience bad or rude service we don’t go back for a time – or worse, we stay away permanently.
So why should buying online be any different?
A recent report from Forrester Research suggests that even B2B buyers are becoming increasingly influenced by the experience over the product itself. It’s becoming a level playing field - we want to experience the same levels of customer service online in a work capacity that we do as consumers shopping for a new purse or a pair of pants. And in the same way as we don’t return to a store if we can’t find what we’re looking for, we’re just as fickle online. A 2017 Forbes article cited that 30% of online visitors use the search boxes on a site to find what they want, but that some sites have up to an 80% user bounce rate due to bad search terms. Those potential shoppers that could have delivered revenue to your bottom line are lost forever because they couldn’t find what you had available all along.
Worse, what do you do if you have a bad experience? You tell your friends, family, colleagues and anyone else that will listen, and in a digital age we share our experiences online too – Twitter, customer rating sites and our social media channels all provide an instant and indelible digital record of a retailer’s inability to deliver on its promises, right there for the whole world to see. Of course, that cuts both ways because when you’re getting things right and it’s really flying, the world knows that too, but get it wrong and you may lose the chance to get those customers back. They’ve left the building and they’re heading to your competitors just one click away.
So, what makes our experience online great?
Personalization - there’s no substitute for deeply knowing your own customers, their preferences, wants and needs. But those desires can ebb and flow depending upon time of day, seasonality, the effects of a global pandemic on their business output or which way the wind’s blowing. Every purchase, be it B2B or B2C, is made by a human. We don’t always land on a site and know what we’re looking for. We may also have been driven there by something that’s happening at that moment in time – and it’s important a site can capture it or it’s a lost revenue opportunity.
Take for example if a factory has an untimely malfunction with a particular machine, they need to act fast to get it running again. Finding the part without delay is first priority and site speed as well as the functionality to buy on a mobile device from the factory floor will make or break their online journey. Google states that site uploads above 3 seconds make a massive impact on sales. If page load goes from 1-3 seconds the bounce rate increases by 32%. If it moves out to 5 seconds this jumps to 90%. Plus locating the product quickly via easy to use search will also impact. This is where machine learning can really come into its own. Machines are faster than humans and can save us time, effort and cost in classifying products to make them easier for shoppers to find on your site. Machine learning makes the classification of product catalogues a breeze, while also delivering the possibility of increased personalization – user site clicks are recorded, and the machine begins to understand preferences, recommending the products it believes users want to see and buy.
Through analyzing collective buyer behavior and generating recommendations relating to previous preferences the retailer is also able to make intelligent decisions around the needs of their customers and what they may like to buy, showing them their options: “Others who bought this, also bought this.”
In the case of our machine part, a preferred brand may also be identifiable via search history allowing a more tailored suggestion in future. Building up detailed profiles of purchasers may also unveil previous issues that were resolved via other products available on the site. And where there are multiple colleagues purchasing products, the site holds the information as ‘one organization’ making it easier for those colleagues to see past purchases and history.
A more targeted, more relevant and more personalized experience for your customers makes finding what they want easier and more enjoyable and boosts your revenues as well.
If you’d like to talk to GroupBy about improving the search function on your eCommerce site, contact us.