Shopping while quarantined: Insights Revealed
With the COVID-19 crisis restricting people’s activities and requiring them to stay at home far longer than usual, a number of them have considered going online when it comes to their shopping needs. The operative word here, however, is “considered.” Although there has been a rise in online purchases of survival essentials, many consumers are simply browsing—not buying.
People who haven’t even considered online shopping before are now spending time on online stores, and this is a great opportunity for eCommerce businesses. With the rise in online browsing, it’s easier than before to determine the voice of customer, including “opinions, comments, expectations, sentiments, and critiques” regarding a service or product. Understanding customer sentiment and changes in shopping behavior is important if online retailers are to convert browsing customers into buying ones.
Below are a few ways to ensure that your customers have a seamless experience with your online store—and that they come back as regulars after the crisis is over.
Leverage Consumer Insights
Excellent customer service is an excellent way to sway customer sentiment to your brand, and the best way to improve that is by leveraging on customer data. Identify pain points and address them so that customers will keep coming back. A planned response ensures that recurring issues will be curbed and customer experience improved. By knowing what your customers say and responding appropriately, they will feel heard and eventually make an emotional connection to your brand, which will help cultivate brand loyalty.
You could also look at what customers say about your brand, which is now easier due to social media. You could check what they post on Facebook, Twitter, or review sites and get a pulse on your brand’s reputation. To help you handle large amounts of text and data, you can “mine opinions” through the help of machine learning and AI. This will help determine if customer statements posted online are positive, negative, or neutral.
Check Product Availability and Assortment
In these uncertain times, it’s a reassuring feeling when a brand knows what you need—and actually has it in stock. Shipping and logistics delays are par for the course thanks to the global pandemic, so you should check your inventory regularly to avoid stock-outs. Each time a customer wants to buy something that’s out of stock, it’s a missed sales opportunity that will likely go to your competitor. It also hurts your brand reputation and affects customer satisfaction.
Together with keeping an eye on your inventory, it’s important to know what’s selling so you can forecast demand. Check data on current trends and combine that with historical data like browsing and purchase history so you can get an idea of what to order in advance, what items to put on sale at a discount, and what promotions you can run. It will also help the customer experience if your online store has features that help make shopping easy, such as product comparison, image search, and live chat.
Set up a Customer Loyalty Program
Nothing makes customers come back more than knowing that they’re getting special treatment for being regulars. If you don’t have one already, now is a great time to create a program that provides incentives to your best customers. While customer retention is one of the goals of a customer loyalty program, it can also help attract new customers. This is why it’s very important that you leverage each customer interaction to drive conversion—and, eventually, loyalty.
Leveraging on customer data will help you create a loyalty program that’s customized to your customers. It need not be too complicated, as long as you ensure that it’s designed according to address customer demand and pain points.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it some drastic changes in the way people shop and do business, forcing both consumers and retailers to adapt to a new reality. Social distancing and other government restrictions have pushed shoppers online since its the only practical channel at the moment—and this move from offline to online may not be short-term. Brands will need to beef up their online channels to address this change in customer behavior. The online revolution has been expected and it’s been a long time coming; the global crisis has dictated, however, that the revolution begins now.
Alon is an Israely product and marketing executive with a track record in leading customer centric product management and inbound marketing strategy. While improving user engemenemt and customer, I help Start Ups achieve product market fit and expand their online footprint. I specialize in technology, entrepreneurship, customer experience.