With the Covid-19 pandemic all but halting in-person shopping experiences during lockdown, the rise of e-commerce has only accelerated. Ordering a product from Amazon has now become second nature to huge swathes of the population, with the number of Prime subscriptions in the UK rising from 15m in 2019 to 19m in 2022; up 30%.
The smartphone is the new shop window. Only 17% of consumers browse with intent to purchase on first e-commerce website, so you must ensure that your experience leaves a strong impression, whilst building recognition and desire. When that same customer picks up their smartphone again, turns on their laptop or visits a physical store, they have an itch they are ready to scratch.
Five principles to supercharge your online experience
- Speed sells
If a website does not load quickly, users will simply go elsewhere. There is a clear relationship between load time and revenue; as page load time increases from 1 to 5 seconds, the probability of customers abandoning the site grows by 90%. Even a 100-millisecond delay in load time can hurt conversion by up to 7%
- Knowledge is power
Understanding what your customers are really looking for makes it much easier to serve them the most relevant content. This can be done by tracking search terms and using heat maps; understanding intent enables better product placement and the most effective prioritisation for help topics. Do not forget to ask for feedback too!
- Meaningful adjacency
Personalisation of the post-click pages is vital, when so much traffic arrives via online ads. According to Wordstream, an online advertising agency, 65% of ecommerce traffic of customers that intend to purchase comes via pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Much higher conversion rate is achieved when products related to the advert or search are shown. For example, when clicking through from a social media advert with particular imagery or colour combinations, linking through to those products, or related items. Personalised ad pages can achieve nearly a 20% conversion rate, according to Instapage. A 4x increase on Google Adwords’ typical 5% PPC conversion rate.
When brands offer an extensive range of products, site navigation needs to be simple and intuitive. This might mean site listings and categories tailored by intent or logically categorising products based on use. Product suggestions can also be made by associated activities. For example, prompting customers for barbecue charcoal once they have burgers and buns in their basket, or sun cream with Pimm’s; all items from different product categories, but that fit together in a customer’s mind.
- Brand resonance
The online experience needs to be consistent with all touchpoints; the look and feel should reflect the brand purpose and trigger the same emotion and familiarity that make a brand meaningfully different. Having strong assets increases your brand’s saliency (the ability to come to mind quickly) by 52% and results in a more valuable brand.7*.
Companies should use stories and content that connect to the brand narrative, reinforcing and imprinting the brand in long term memories. This also extends to curation of the products shown on product listing pages. For example, working with a sportswear brand, we observed that the product listing pages contained a multitude of different types of products from different style ranges, unrelated to one-another, with limited tailoring to search or category selection. Searching for ‘retro sports’ might yield everything from cutting-edge collaborations (retro?), to neon running shoes (sports?). This can be great if it inspires a meaningful connection, to alternative products, but it should not diminish or confuse perceptions of the brand.
Meaningful difference was a key talking point at Kantar’s latest Brand Summit event, Ignite 2022, hosted at The Curzon in Soho. Whilst discussing the launch of Kantar BrandZ Most Valuable UK Brands 2022. Adele Joliffe, Head of Brand Consultants at Kantar, discussed how uniqueness is worth paying for, with an organisation’s sales and margin at risk if the consumer thinks they have nothing to lose by choosing an alternative brand. Brands crucially need to know when and how to be different. Full recording of all the sessions from the event will be available on site very soon.
- Measure what matters
To find out how well your online experience is faring, you need to measure and evaluate the right aspects of customer behaviour and make sense of it to inform improvements.
At Kantar we help our clients measure online and instore behaviour and customer perceptions through platforms such as Qualtrics and Medallia, with advanced ecommerce behaviour tracking and features to support customer journeys. We can also understand web behaviour through our proprietary analytics platforms and tools, including search and click analytics. We blend this with behavioural psychology and neuroscience techniques, such as intuitive association exploration, to help our clients translate customer perceptions into informed decisions for brand growth.
It is imperative that, right now, all business decisions have the customer at the heart of the organisation. Understanding where any gaps lie will help your brand stand apart from the competition, whilst continuing along with your brand growth trajectory.