For more than a decade, Digital River’s MarketForce digital agency has concentrated on using advanced analytics to help our clients – primarily brands selling direct – understand how online shoppers like to buy. We then take what we’ve learned about those shoppers to build an ideal consumer shopping experience – one that will generate the most conversions and sales – as well as predict which online marketing and sales approaches will generate the most traffic.
Along the way, we’ve made some interesting discoveries. While we’ve found that some online shoppers are always interested in the promotional deals, and membership programs that large retailers run, we’ve also found a base of shoppers who prefer to buy directly from brands. These are the premium buyers who prefer to build relationships with the names they trust. Rather than shopping for discounts, this group is looking for a better understanding of their favorite brands. That can mean faster access to new product launches; the chance to shape products through research and development programs; and the opportunity to make their purchases from a wider selection of products, or from private stores.
These are shoppers buying for value, and not necessarily for price. It’s an important distinction. HTC, a mobile phone brand, met this demand by designing a value-added service that went the extra mile to surprise and delight customers. Shoppers who buy direct from HTC do so with the benefit of its ‘Uh-oh’ protection policy. This means that if they break their phone, drop it in water, or even if they simply want to switch service providers, they are entitled to a one-time free replacement of their handset. We have found that great programs like this produce deep loyalty and provide ongoing opportunities for two-way conversations. It’s these conversations that help brands develop long-term customer relationships, measuring engagement in lifetime value rather than brief encounters.
As we look to the future, we continue to look for ways to refine our approach to advanced analytics. The more we understand about customer behavior, the better we can predict what shoppers need – or in some cases don’t need. For example, with the help of analytics we’re starting to predict which website visitors value live chat – and which ones don’t. That means we can save our clients the expense of offering the service where it’s not wanted and provide a service to end users who are looking for an incremental engagement to help them with any additional questions before they close their purchase.
It’s easy to get lost in metrics and lose sight of how important the customers’ online shopping experience is. But by gaining a deeper understanding of the user’s experience, brands and retailers alike can gain deeper insights into what’s happening on their ecommerce stores and make meaningful improvements to the way they sell.