10th June 2021 - 8 minutes

The Expectations Of The 2021 Ecommerce Consumer And The Need For Personalisation

The “flight to digital” 

The pandemic has acted as a catalyst to ecommerce. All trends, plans, and practices have been sped up by approximately 5 years. The “flight to digital” has increased customer expectations, which many businesses online and offline were unprepared for.

Most businesses have found themselves in a position where they have had to adapt quickly to survive. With the closure of physical stores, reinventing business models, responding to short-term market fluctuations, and fast forwarding plans, has been the norm for the last 18 months. Some smaller brands have even had to adopt an online model from scratch. 

The shift to online has affected the high street massively, many big names have disappeared (e.g. the Arcadia Group) and other brands have had to revert to online models.

Our recent 2021 market research revealed that SMEs are feeling the pressure to keep up with the latest customer and user experience trends, and therefore a priority for them now is searching for online solutions to give them an edge over their competitors and fulfil the needs of their online customers. 

“The expectations are high and the concern is that we are under pressure to keep delivering. We have to continue to perform in a crowded and growing marketplace. So, in a nutshell we will be looking for proven solutions that are flexible and allow us to keep changing and keep visible.”

– anonymous, PureClarity market research candidate, May 2021 

Although most brands are now using an online model, the bigger brands such as Amazon and ASOS set the mark for success very high. People are inclined to compare brands against Amazon. Customers are searching for a matched level of service, personalisation, and fulfilment before considering shopping elsewhere. 

Google recently stated that, “people’s buying patterns will continue to change as they react to unpredictability”, brands must simply learn to adapt to their needs efficiently. 

“There’s no such thing as digital transformation, it is a constant ecommerce evolution.” 

– anonymous, PureClarity market research candidate, May 2021 

What do today’s consumers want and need?

It is too easy to say that “customers want a seamless online experience from start to finish and beyond”, but what does this really mean? 

Businesses need to go back to the basics. Focus and listen to individual consumers’ wants and needs, and then build a strategy from there. Below are two areas that we believe are crucial to delivering exceptional customer experiences. 

1. Be omnipresent and adopt omnichannel  

  • Be omnipresent 

Today’s advanced technology means that we’ve never had more places to go shopping online. Consumers expect brands to be anywhere that they are whether that be on a mobile device, social application, or web app – they want businesses to be omnipresent. 

And that’s not all, the service from the moment that the customer enters the store to the minute they receive the product and beyond, must offer an unique and memorable experience for them to consider returning. 

“Overnight, consumers expected brands to remember who they were, where they came from, and what they liked, regardless of what channel they came from. This promise of personalized, one-to-one marketing might once have been a pipe dream. It is now increasingly table stakes for consumers.”

Twilo Segment’s, The state of personalisation 2021

“With the rise of marketplaces, the growth of mobile and social commerce, and the evolution of voice search functionality, customer interactions between these channels and the role they play in purchases will be the holy grail.”

Raconteur, Riding the ecommerce wave
  • Adopt omnichannel 

Adopting a platform that allows management of all inventory, sales, orders, shipping, fulfilment, delivery, analytics, and customer data, will allow for a more seamless process. For instance Shopify is a well known and used omnichannel solution. 

“First, they need to embrace omnichannel. Once they are selling in multiple ways, they need a platform that allows them to manage all their inventory, sales and orders in one place, along with shipping, fulfilment and delivery. Customer data should be stored there as well, alongside financial data and analytics.”

Liat Karpel Gurwicz, Wix’s head of ecommerce marketing

2. Focus on predominantly on customer service and satisfaction 

  • User experience

It starts with when the customer enters the store. If you were in a physical store you would be greeted by a shop assistant and – if you wanted or needed – guided around the store personally. Creating this kind of personalised in-store experience is crucial. In fact, 52% of consumers agree that the more personalised an experience is the greater satisfaction. 

  • Easy checkout that offers options for payment

30% of online shoppers choose to shop with a brand that offers an easy checkout experience. 20% do so if there are multiple payment options. Buy now, pay later methods are becoming increasingly more popular among consumers and brands.

  • Fast and free delivery 

Brands such as Amazon offer fast and free delivery meaning that today’s customers expect this service from other brands. 53% of shoppers prefer online due to free delivery and 28% said they prefer shopping online because they receive next day delivery. 

  • Building a relationship

People want to feel connected to brands. Rewarding customers’ loyalty is a great way to do this – 41% of shoppers shop online for discounts and coupons and 27% shop online for loyalty points  – loyalty campaigns and email campaigns are perfect for this. 

Wix’s head of ecommerce marketing, Liat Karpel Gurwicz, states that data from the Smile.io app in the Wix app market shows that returning customers spend five times more than the average customer. 

“Building loyalty does not always require a loyalty program. An effective loyalty strategy segments users by shopping behaviors and preferences for everything from shipping options to promotions and incentives even if they aren’t loyalty members. Creating loyalty with personalised offers and an effective post-purchase experience can add a positive impact to both sales and customer satisfaction scores.”

Sailthru Liveclicker consumer study

Does age matter? 

There’s no doubt that customers’ online behaviour is a constant evolution that brands will have to try their best to keep pace with. However, now that we have had a look at what today’s customer wants, new studies show that in actual fact age could impact these requirements. 

Raconteur stated in their recent report that Sitecore’s research showed that 61% of Gen Z are less loyal to brands than they were pre-pandemic, compared with 33% of baby boomers. 

Interestingly, while it may seem that the younger generations are more influenced by corporate values, Sailthru Liveclicker’s recent consumer survey suggests that this is not a significant factor. 

“This aligns with major research that’s been published throughout the pandemic, including the Consumer Culture Report that noted 71% of shoppers prefer to shop with brands that are aligned to their values.”

Raconteur’s research continues to reveal that post-millennials are the most impatient, with 69% stating that they are less likely to shop with an online store if it has a slow loading time. 

Moreover, the younger generations (Gen Z and Millennials) are more keen to shop through newer methods, such as; Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Clubhouse. Whereas, older generations (35 to 54) want a well-signposted and efficient online shopping experience. For consumers above this age, simplicity seems to be the most important factor to attract their attention. 

80% of all generations agree that they will not revisit an online store after just one bad user experience. 70% of all ages prefer brands to know more about them, in order to offer a more personalised user experience, as long as this data is first hand and not purchased.

These numbers are undeniably too big to ignore. So, what can businesses do to meet the needs of today’s online consumer? 

“Personalise or perish”: The need for personalisation 

One trend that we found when conducting our market research (2021), is that SMEs are either looking to adopt personalisation or have plans to adopt personalisation software, in order to meet the expectations of today’s user experience. 

“Personalisation is at the top of our priority list. In an already overcrowded market we need to focus on engaging better with our customers. The way to do this is through understanding individual customer behaviour and then acting on that data.”

– anonymous, PureClarity market research candidate, May 2021 

Twilio Segment’s recent research indicates that 85% of businesses believe that they are already offering personalised experiences, whereas only 60% of consumers seem to believe that they are. 

The same research reveals that if brands do not offer a personalised experience, then 45% of consumers will shop elsewhere. Moreover, the response was positive for personalisation (69%), so long as it is data that has been collected directly and not bought. 

“To remain competitive, a highly personalised customer experience, built on a foundation of first-party data, was seen as the primary means of driving customer loyalty and differentiation, as well as a higher bottom line…Businesses investing in personalisation stand to drive greater revenue from those that don’t. 60% of consumers say they will become repeat buyers after a personalised shopping experience with a retailer. When Segment asked consumers the same question in 2017, only 44% said the same. What’s more, nearly half say they’re less likely to make a purchase from a brand after an unpersonalised experience.”

Twilio Segment

In our recent podcast ‘Adapting to the Changing Behaviours of the Online Consumer’, our host Andre de Gaye and guest speaker Rachel Swann (Commercial Director of PureClarity) spoke in depth about the need for creating a relationship with your customers. Understanding their needs and wants, whilst being able to adapt in realtime to their behaviours at that exact moment is essential for building a connection and, of course, increasing conversions. 

Personalisation software allows your brand to resonate with your customers by creating a memorable and highly relevant user experience.

To summarise: “personalise or perish”. 

How can PureClarity help? 

PureClarity are experts in ecommerce personalisation.  We have a vast range of experience of working with online retailers, providing strategic advice and tools to overcome ecommerce challenges and drive online conversion. Our AI-driven and award winning technology is proven to create seamless, memorable, and unique user experiences for all your customers every time they visit your online store. 

We offer a range of inclusive features that support and help fulfil your ecommerce goals. 

To see how PureClarity can help grow your online business book a demo or try our 30-day free trial today!

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