The coronavirus pandemic has caused havoc among UK retailers, but with the high street closed, the opportunity for ecommerce is vast. What can be done to aid website performance during this crisis?
This is how Andy Mulcahy, Strategy & Insight Director, IMRG set the scene for a panel discussion during Retail Bulletin’s Online Conversion Summit (30th April 2020). The session was entitled: The browsing experience – how to keep your customers engage.
The speakers were Robert Kulawik, COO, Everything 5 Pounds, Desi Reuben-Sealey, Senior UX/UI Manager, Debenhams and Ben Stirling, Managing Director, Webloyalty.
Conversion is everything
Discussion focused on this core theme: When site visitors turn into interested browsers, how can retailers provide them with the best possible experience to encourage conversion with an online experience that shows them what they really want and more?
“Once you get a visitor onto your website, how can you ensure your site is fully optimised for conversion?” said Mulcahy.
Kulawik of Everything 5 Pounds and Reuben-Sealey of Debenhams gave examples of how they are improving the presentation of their products online, and developing customer browsing experiences tailored to key personas that they want to attract and retain. Reuben-Sealey of Debenhams said the company has identified seven different customer types that they target on www.debenhams.com. But he spoke of the challenges retailers face, trying to design an online experience that will suit every type of shopper.
Analyse what is converting
Ben Stirling, Managing Director, Webloyalty spoke of the importance of analytics and the ability of retailers to gather strong data on the power of, for example ‘shop the look’ and ‘complete the look’ visual suggestion features. He said that analytics evaluate the worth of customer reviews, and can be used to improve the structure of the page, drilling down into the nuances of what will make people convert.
Behavioural economics – what can it do?
Webloyalty is a rewards platform operator, and specialises in online conversion and retention strategies. The company has explored the latest thinking on behavioural economics – applying it specifically to ecommerce websites.
Behavioural economics is a field of economics that studies how the actual decision-making process influences the decisions that are reached. Put another way, it’s about carefully analysing which human behaviours are deemed to be valuable in the consumer journey.
How can this be adopted in online retail? “It’s about putting a scientific framework around how customers behave, and tailoring your website offer accordingly,” said Stirling. “This will improve your understanding of typical customers. What are the behaviours, what are the expectations?
The best way to approach behavioural economics is to test and learn from a set of techniques.”
Neuromarketing techniques can boost conversions
Retailers can use ‘cognitive techniques’ such as ‘framing and chunking’ to present products in ways that will progress the website user’s decision making in a certain way.
Another technique is ‘scarcity bias’, when you promote exclusively so that consumers feel special and valued – emotions are heightened. Panic buying comes down to starting to feel emotional about the situation, suggested Stirling.
Webloyalty has researched the UK’s 50 top companies in the UK and the digital influences they have adopted to maximise sales and revenues.
A key finding is that the Homewares sector is using these ‘cognitive biases’ best – with 90% average usage of techniques. Telecom/ Tech is worst with only 57% using conversion biases – so there is a good opportunity for them to improve their sites in this way.
Opportunities to learn
Stirling recommends gamification and rewarding as ways to drive the stimuli of desire – particularly in younger Gen Z and Millennial consumer groups.
“No online retailer is fully embracing these techniques, but we believe behavioural economics will be more widely used in the years ahead,” he said. ”Overlaying them will have an impact on understanding of consumer behaviour which can only help to drive up conversions.”