New data this week from Visa shows that eCommerce sales grew 7.4 per cent in December as customers chose to purchase Christmas gifts and essentials online, while in-store sales fell 0.1%.
Growth in eCommerce sales has long been on the cards and December was the last month of a very strong year for consumer spending. But despite a clear warning from the Government that interest rates are due to rise sooner rather than later, the trickle of online spend has turned into a healthy stream that’s set to continue during 2016.
While this is good news, the potential prize should be a challenge for retailers to focus on their onsite experience and customer service. They should fulfil on the areas where consumers generally gripe – shorter checkout routes, better payment engines and more accurate product information.
The latter is something social proof can help with on- and off-site through a three-step process to delivering a quality product detail that is relevant to the shopper and in tune with their browsing habits:
1) Show relevant, real-time information as shoppers shop
I keep coming back to the example of the toaster that follows me around the internet, but it’s a great example of everything that’s wrong with digital advertising. I’ve bought the toaster. The toaster’s been delivered. We’re eaten several hundred rounds of toast from it over the past few months, but a cookie I dropped somewhere is still telling an ad engine that I want a toaster.
A better experience for both shopper and eCommerce retailer is to deliver product information or recommended products based on actual online habits. Watch what your browsers are interested in, and if they leave your page, show them in-ad messages using social proof. Think “41 people are looking at this [toaster] right now.” The proven impact, is that the shopper will consider the product a better deal and is more likely to return to the product page.
2) Use behavioural information to recommend and upsell
Every retailer knows the power of the upsell. Whether it’s to a more expensive holiday or pair of trousers, or by adding incremental items such as rental cars or even a pair of goggles (going back to my days on the shop floor in a ski shop, it was all about the goggles).
Real-time messaging can be added to any part of the sales journey to suggest associated items or recommended (more expensive products). These can be subtle (showing that an item is trending, and therefore popular), or more directional (“Shoppers who bought x also bought Y”). What’s important is that messages or suggestions are relevant. Used successfully they can unlock upsell revenues.
3) Reduce basket abandonment rates
Checkout is where it can all go wrong – and for a variety of reasons. If we assume that your payment engine is working perfectly, and your interface is simple, what’s left between you the e-tailer and a successful sale is the customer’s mindset. You may have heard of a phrase called ‘basket shock’. It’s what happens when the shopper gets to the end of their session, checks their basket total and realises that they can’t afford the big scary total, feels guilty or doesn’t want what they’ve chosen.
At this point you’re at risk of losing the sale altogether as your customers don’t want the hassle of sorting through and refreshing. At this point, social proof can reinforce the decisions that have been made and make customers more confident to press ‘buy,’ letting people know stock is low or the item is becoming a hot-selling trend.
According to the Visa figures, 2015 was the strongest year since 2008 for online spending. With continued spend in 2016, consider how social proof could help your site pull in those increments.