Coming towards the end of 2019 many businesses will be reviewing their actual online sales performance versus the final Q4 forecast. Even accounting for the weekend left before Christmas for last minute panic buying to bump up the December figures, many businesses will at this point have a good idea of where the year will end financially. With the promotional growth of Q4 Black Friday and Cyber Monday now as standard yearly fixtures, there are emerging reports of poor growth and profit margins from well know brands across the retail sector.* The predicted downturn of the economy this year is happening, and even though less consumerism means less impact on climate change, the fact that people are buying less is hitting businesses hard.
So, what can businesses do about this online?
Retailers need to pull out all the stops now to ensure that the predicted reduction in high street spending does not spread to online. The internet accounts for 21.5% of total retail sales growing from only 3.4% in 2007. For businesses to survive and grow, their mindset needs to be ever more focused online. The approach should be two fold – adopt new technologies to give their current and prospect customers exactly what they need whilst retaining the old-fashioned principles of excellent customer service.
Understand the importance of the website journey
Having an ecommerce site today as expected as a company having a telephone number and email address. But having a website that is difficult to use, with a clunky interface and payment gateway, can be as equally bad as a rude customer service agent on the phone.
Brand loyalty can easily be broken when shopping online. Customers will no longer tolerate a poor website experience. They will simply bounce straight to a competitor site and buy from those that are ‘doing the online shopping experience’ right.
Customer expect websites today to be intuitive to navigate, easy to use and anticipate their needs. They expect checkouts to offer multiple payment methods, they expect to be offered incentives and promotions to shop there and they expect businesses to remember them for future visits. By not providing a positive experience, the damage to your brand and business can be difficult to recover from, especially given the power and reach of social media.
Put your customers online experience first
Do you offer your customers online customer service 24/7? Can you identify a visitor as soon as they arrive? Do you know what they are likely to want, how much they usually spend and be able to present those products to them from the start?
Look back to how shop keepers used to greet their customers. They’d know their name, where they lived, what they preferred, how much they like to spend and often on what days they would shop. Shop keepers would identify new visitors to the shop and do everything they could to make them feel welcome and find out as much as they could for any future visits. There is no reason, with the technology that is available today, that any business cannot be offering this. By not doing this you’re not making your customers personally feel valued. No one likes to feel like a statistic on a financial bottom line.
Recruit Artificial Intelligence (AI) into your team
For those of you that remember Albert Arkright from ‘Open All Hours’ as the trusted shopkeeper back in the 1970’s, times have surely moved on. Yet the principles are the same, they’ve just moved online. Albert would know all his customers, their likes and dislikes, their preferences, where they lived, and how they liked to behave once in the shop. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the 2019 24/7 virtual perfect traditional shopkeeper in 2019.
AI has revolutionised the way that businesses can serve their customers online. AI can predict who will visit, what they want and can make sure the relevant products offers and promotions are available at the right time in the right place. Many businesses report that the vast amount of data they are now surrounded by is difficult to interpret into a meaningful and manageable strategy. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning were created to do exactly this. What would take a team of four full time employees to interpret in a day can be done in a matter of seconds at a small fraction of the people cost.
How AI-Driven Ecommerce Personalisation helps business succeeds
Intelligent ecommerce personalisation enables businesses to have an intelligent virtual shopkeeper present throughout each visitor’s website visit. It allows businesses to present relevant products and promotions based on their profile, their previous requests, searches and behaviours and also based on what the general current trends are. It also allows gives them the means to show attractive offers and promotions at key points, whether in the shop window or at the point of checkout.
AI ecommerce personalisation makes a visitor feel valued by the business. By remembering what someone likes, has bought and proving recommendations on other products, this makes the buying experience much more enjoyable and their propensity to buy increases.
Ecommerce personalisation builds brand loyalty and customer retention, increases average order value and in turn helps businesses exceed those original forecasts predicted back at the beginning of the year.
How PureClarity is a game-changer
PureClarity specialises soley in AI-Driven ecommerce personalisation and engaging online shopping experiences that gives businesses two unique levels of personalisation. Firstly, the AI-driven recommenders and recommender strategy work 24/7 without any input from the business, interpreting any amount of data whether huge of sparse, into a website that offers highly relevant products, categories and brands in recommendations to visitors. Secondly PureClarity allows businesses to overlay different enriched personalised marketing campaigns to different customer segments throughout any area throughout the site to double the level of relevance and engagement.
So what next?
Whether or not ecommerce personalisation has entered your strategy radar, the fact is that without the adoption of AI-driven technology to interpret your data and provide an excellent online experience, you may feel your bounce rate grow in 2020.
*Financial Times 2019