Keeping People at the Heart of Your Virtual Shopping Experience

It’s no secret that the last decade or so has seen a huge shift towards online shopping. 

The introduction of large-scale services like Amazon and eBay has given customers a taste of ease and convenience. From the start, though, there’s always something missing from these big-box online stores – a human touch. 

Sure, you don’t always need personal recommendations when buying simple everyday essentials. But there are many occasions when a shopper feels lost and even abandoned by these robotic online platforms. 

This presents an excellent opportunity for smaller brands to create a more personalised virtual shopping experience – and retain more customers in the long run. 

The Importance of Building Customer Relationships

It may be tempting to double down on targeted marketing campaigns and push for sales. This may very well produce an immediate influx in sales if your ads get to the right people. But, this is short-term thinking and it won’t serve you in the long run. 

It’s been proven time and time again that it’s much cheaper to keep a current customer than attract a new one. It’s up to 25 times cheaper, in fact. The numbers vary based on industry, but it’s also around 60% more likely you’ll sell to an existing customer than a new one. 

This is true for a few reasons: 

  • They already know your brand and what you offer
  • They were satisfied with their previous experience
  • They were and are still satisfied with their purchase
  • They trust you and your products/recommendations 

When you build trust and rapport with a customer, they’ll keep coming back – there’s no doubt about it. This doesn’t mean you should never try to gain new customers. It just means you should place greater or at least equal focus on retention as you do on lead generation. 

How to Add a Human Touch 

How do you create a personalised experience in such a digitally driven world? It’s not always easy when you’re not face to face. But, with the right strategies and retailing solutions, the customer will feel like they’re not only in the store but getting the VIP treatment. 

Strategies vary depending on your industry, but there are many ways you can go about nurturing the customer experience: 

Offer An Initial Consultation 

For industries with highly personalised products like fashion, jewellery, or beauty, a consultation sets the perfect tone. A new customer may feel overwhelmed by a broad selection of products, and not know what they need or want. 

This is where offering a consultation makes the difference. With no guidance available, your new lead may simply move on to the next company. 

If they see you offer free advice, they’re likely to take advantage. Once you’ve helped them determine their needs more specifically, they can shop with confidence. 

Personalise Your Website 

When a customer is brand new, you have no idea what they’re interested in. Once they’ve spent some time on your site, however, you can keep track of what they’re looking at. As data on the customer grows, you can start personalising your website to tailor content to their needs.

This means that, for example, instead of your generic, default homepage, you can show them a personal, curated list of products. This can help them narrow down their search, easily see product relevant to them, and saves them time searching the site for the product they want. 

Offer Live Chat Customer Service 

In light of the world’s growing demand for maximum convenience and instant service, your website needs to include live online chat. 

Many e-commerce platforms use AI chatbots. These bots can help customers navigate the site or troubleshoot common issues. 

This is a great first step, but you should consider taking it to the next level by offering live chat, both video and text, from real people. This offers a much more meaningful experience where customers can get specific and personalised answers rather than automated, canned responses. 

Gone are the days of 24-hour email wait times. Consumers want to get their questions answered quickly, and accurately, without having to go looking for the answer. While you should still offer an email should someone prefer this medium, live chat can keep the customer engaged on the site, rather than abandoning their purchase.

Personalised Email Campaigns

Email marketing is often seen as the crux of any digital business, and yet it’s fiercely competitive. How many newsletters do you sign up for, only to ignore the emails as they funnel in? Getting that all-important opening click is essential. 

The best way to stand out from the rest is to keep it personal and inviting. While it’s smart to offer deals, coupons, and promotions, you don’t want to always push sales on people. Focus on the experience and the sales will come. 

Email campaigns can be as simple or as complex as you want. Whatever your strategy, here are some tips to keep it personal: 

  • Always use the customer’s name. This makes them feel seen right from the start.
  • Segment your list. Separate your email list into groups based on demographics. Track things like age, gender, geographical location, etc. Different demographics respond to different things. 
  • Use their activity on your site to send personalised product recommendations. 
  • Be friendly, personal, and casual, regardless of industry. Don’t be afraid to crack a joke sometimes and avoid jargon. 
  • Create triggers in your email campaign that send personalized messages based on actions. Sign-ups, purchases, abandoned cart etc. 
  • Send emails from a person. Whether an employee is typing the email or its part of an automated campaign, make the sign-off personal. Research shows that customers respond better to messages from an individual rather than the company. 

Finding the Perfect Retail Solution

As society moves toward increased automation, and the dawn of metaverses, creating personalised online retail experiences will become as important as ever.

Whilst we all look for efficiency and convenience in our day-to-day lives, we continue to be driven by, and buy from, people. People are the difference between a bad day in the office, and a good one, or a good shopping experience and one which leaves you swearing never to buy from that brand again. 

At Storey, our focus is on people-powered retail experiences. We believe that putting people at the heart of your retail solution can create a point of difference, provide a great customer experience, and build brand loyalty.

Where Amazon and eBay will continue to win on scale and convenience, smaller brands can compete by putting people at the forefront of their retail strategy. By providing a more personalised retail experience, your online store can attract and retain more customers. When your customers feel seen, valued, and appreciated, they will stick around.

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