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Modern Motivations: What’s Driving Today’s Ecommerce Consumer? cover image

Modern Motivations: What’s Driving Today’s Ecommerce Consumer?

As ecommerce scales, so does the importance of deep customer knowledge. It’s estimated that there will be 2.14 billion global buyers online by the end of 2021 – and yet only 2.17% of store visits convert into purchases. Demoralizing statistics or a clear indicator of untapped potential? The difference lies in your willingness to better understand your customer.

By appreciating and accommodating the motivating factors driving interest and conversion, you can meet consumer needs and reduce the likelihood of losing out to the competition. The more effort merchants invest in applying strategy and best practices to meeting their audiences’ needs, the more they have to gain.

This guide delves into how to use a more empathetic (and successful) approach to perfecting your customer experience.

Brand Experience

What the Consumer Wants

Increasingly, it’s important for brands to consider the overarching impression that they’re making on customers. Personality, character, attitude – whatever way your brand chooses to present itself, consistency is key across all channels.

From an unwavering brand voice through to consistently upheld values, it’s important that your brand shows up for customers in a familiar and recognizable way.

The rise of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands exemplifies this. Customers want to feel an affinity with the brands they support, and this connection cannot be established without a clearly defined brand personality. DTC brands benefit from the direct connection enjoyed with their customers. Not only does this facilitate a closer relationship, it also provides a deeper and more nuanced understanding of their audience, thanks to regular, direct interaction and engagement.

How Online Retailers Can Meet This Need

Today, retail spans a huge array of channels – from social selling through to pop-up activations. When approaching an omnichannel strategy, merchants should be investing as much time and effort into their brand experience as they do with the technicalities of selling via multiple touchpoints.

Three Tips for Better Brand Experience

  • Don’t underestimate the power of a clearly defined brand voice. This can set the tone for almost all interactions with your audience. You should be communicating in a branded fashion across all channels – from replies to reviews, to website and email copy.
  • A big part of brand experience is communication, and this should be a two-way street. Loyal customers relish the opportunity to interact with the brands they enjoy. Keep them engaged by maintaining responsive social media channels and running regular UGC-based contests and challenges.
  • When focusing on your brand experience, pay attention to the full customer journey. All stages of the pathway to purchase should be supported, and showing interest for your customers at each stage helps to ensure a top-level experience.

One Brand Winning Here

Ballsy uses humor, storytelling, and clear positioning across all channels to achieve a well-defined brand experience. Their no-nonsense attitude shows up everywhere, from social channels through to their playful website.

Close Community

What the Consumer Wants

There’s an increasing desire for customers to use their affinity with certain brands to communicate their own identity. This, in turn, functions as a way to help them find ‘their kind of people’ – with brands acting as lightning conductors bringing together like-minded communities. The desire to remain loyal is significantly strengthened by true connections with a brand.

It’s not beyond the realms of imagination to hypothesize that the effects of the pandemic will have accelerated these tendencies. For example, Peloton saw substantial growth during international lockdowns. Part of this surge can of course be attributed to people’s desire to remain fit as outdoor activities were limited, but people also enjoyed the way that the platform connected them to others through shared interest and activity.

Customers are increasingly drawn to brands that nurture their communities. Activity such as discussion between customers and product reviews help with the feeling of connection, affinity with, and loyalty to a brand. Research from LoyaltyLion shows that 70% of consumers are motivated to join a community by the chance to find out more about products from those who have already bought them.

By creating a space for this kind of engagement across various channels, brands allow their customers to add value by sharing their own experiences and advice with others. The sense of community is strengthened as they become not only ambassadors but educators.

How Online Retailers Can Meet This Need

Creating a community is all about giving your customers visibility and a voice. User-generated content is perfect for this. Share customer images and creative video content to show your products in real-life settings. This helps to add real relatability, enabling customers to recognize themselves in your content.

Three Tips for Closer Brand Community

  • Be responsive to your customers. Keep channels of communication open and give your audience a chance to engage with each other on your social channels. Tailor your social strategies to encourage interaction, the repurposing of existing content, and the opportunity for customers to flex their unique creativity in a supportive environment.
  • Bring people together at branded events - either IRL or online. Give customers a chance to connect with your brand and each other in a communal setting. If you do have the opportunity, there’s something very powerful about bringing people together in a physical space, but events professionals have gotten incredibly creative with what’s possible in the digital space as a result of recent restrictions, so explore all your options.
  • Reward your loyal customers. If you run a loyalty scheme, be sure to recognize interaction and engagement within your brand community. If customers are regularly leaving detailed reviews and rich content and responding to questions etc, make sure that this is appropriately recognized and encouraged.

One Brand Winning Here

Freshly Picked does a wonderful job at leveraging their word-of-mouth marketing, having tapped into a pre-existing community of new parents (typically at similar life stages and looking for support, understanding, and a little empathy!) They help this active community bring value to their brand by enabling them to share their experiences and product recommendations, and ensuring these are well integrated across all sales channels.

Personalized Service

What the Consumer Wants

The rise of personalized content and messaging has been a defining factor within ecommerce over recent years. Providing a sophisticated personalized experience is possible thanks to advances in technology, and customers are expecting it more than ever.

Customers want to feel welcomed, appreciated, and understood by your brand. This means seeing personalized product recommendations (not just your generic best-sellers) and relevant messaging (e.g. no mention of kids to those who don’t have children) all throughout their shopping journey.

Ultimately, consumers want authentic, personal shopping experiences where they feel understood and properly guided, and this should extend to all touchpoints, from the minute they land on a homepage to every last email they receive.

How Online Retailers Can Meet This Need

The only way to achieve top levels of personalization is via a deep knowledge of your customers – and this means gathering data from a wide variety of sources. Of course, traditionally, the best source of information comes directly from the behavioral patterns of our shoppers – the way that customers have interacted with stores has informed the way that retailers receive them since long before the days of digital commerce.

Three Tips for Better Personalization

  • Don’t limit yourself when it comes to gathering information from a wide variety of sources. Any interactions or engagements with the brand can be used to inform more accurate personalizations. Review attributes, for example, can shine a helpful light onto specific behaviors, demographics, and lifestyles.
  • Step back and assess your customer journey step by step, to ascertain the potential for personalization at each and every step. Great personalization follows customers not only across channels but also throughout their shopping journey.
  • Keep testing. Fine-tune your personalization by trialing different variations of a single page element with varying audience segments to find the sweet spot of optimized conversion.

One Brand Winning Here

High-performance training apparel and equipment brand, The WOD Life, uses Nosto to automate category merchandising and personalize product recommendations for online shoppers. With "Just for You" recommendations based on shopper behavior, as well as “People who viewed this product also purchased” and personalized "don't forget these" product displays, The WOD Life has grown AOV (average order value) by 10% and increased conversion rates by 70%.

Easy Answers

What the Consumer Wants

Nothing should slow down or impede your customers’ ability to make a purchase – least of all a frustrating lack of product information, resulting in a lengthy wait for a brand to respond to queries. The demand for easy, rapid answers is increasing – and the rise of conversational commerce will continue to cement this expectation.

Instant responses, whether from a well-primed support team or an automated reply, are a necessity. Chatbots have become increasingly sophisticated and this has undoubtedly caused expectations within this area to rise. Similarly, events such as a positive comment on social media ("I need these shoes!") can trigger your helpdesk to automatically mark the individual as a social lead, enabling you to follow up with an incentive to help drive behavior ("We love that you love them – check your DMs for a 10% discount off your next order!”).

How Online Retailers Can Meet This Need

The way that customer service is viewed should be reframed within the organization – it’s more than an inevitable task to support sales, it’s an opportunity to actively increase revenue and win ongoing loyalty. By optimizing your brand’s ability to deliver the right answers, at the right time, in the right way, you’re able to provide a service that’s both enhanced and expedited.

Three Tips for Better Customer Support

  • Plan to be actively responsive at all stages of the customer journey – omnichannel retail requires omnichannel support. From active engagement on social media through to responding to reviews and sending well-timed emails, be proactive. Consider live chat to proactively remove purchase barriers during the buying process. For example, if a customer lingers on a product page for more than 15 seconds, automate a live chat auto pop-up and ask if they have a question about that product.
  • Lean on your loyal customer base as a source of instant, authentic information for prospective buyers. Structuring your reviews to help provide responses to frequently asked questions is a great way of adding compelling social proof to the support process.
  • Use macros and machine learning to respond to commonly asked questions immediately such as “where is my order?” and “do you ship to my location?”. To learn more about these helpful premade responses, and the speed they can bring to your responsiveness, explore our BFCM strategies.

One Brand Winning Here

QuickFlick leverages their review content to provide instant answers for curious customers. They ensure that this information is embedded across their product pages – exactly where potential buyers might have questions or doubts. They make especially great use of video reviews and demos – with their skilled customers providing engaging and authentic content that clearly shows the ease of use and effectiveness of the unique products they offer.

Value Alignment

What the Consumer Wants

One of the most fascinating new consumer trends is a rising interest in brands that do good and represent a reflection of their own values. The impact of conscious consumerism is impossible to ignore - customers want to feel an affinity with the brands that they choose to support, and this extends to corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Time and time again, shoppers have proven that they are happy to spend more on brands that give back to causes that chime with their intended audience. As a result, partnering with a cause can help to inspire boosted AOV and loyalty. Highline Wellness utilized the Change Commerce app to support causes such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Friends of the Earth, and - at the same time as raising a significant amount of funds for these charities (with a 24% donation opt-in rate) they saw a 6% increase in AOV.

How Online Retailers Can Meet This Need

The secret to obtaining true value alignment is to understand the causes and issues close to your audience’s heart. Once you’ve got a clear idea of the values and communities that they care deeply about, set out a clear plan of action for supporting them. Keep this attitude central to your brand positioning through investment in cause marketing (the allocation of marketing budget to donations made on the behalf of your customers with every purchase).

Three Tips For Better Value Alignment

  • Be sure to pay close attention to your communication strategy when it comes to promoting your brand values. Cause marketing is exceptionally effective when you’re telling a compelling and clear story to your audience. Demonstrate the intention and reasoning behind your support in messaging and across all your owned digital channels.
  • Make the process of giving back seamless for your customers. Any process that adds confusion or fuss to the checkout process should be avoided at all costs. Opting in to make a donation and selecting a cause to support should be effortless for your shopper, and not lead them away from the purchase journey. Not only will this help protect your conversion rate - but you’ll also clearly signal that giving back is an integral part of your brand.
  • Reposition (or become established) as a mission-led brand. Increasingly brands are redefining the way they frame their success, putting a focus on their purpose and mission. Strong support for ethical and environmental causes can be an important differentiator when it comes to seeking new business, partnerships, support or funding.

One Brand Winning Here

Wanderer Bracelets do a wonderful job of weaving their product story through their positioning. The values that underpin the brand, from the reasons it was founded to the way it is run today are presented as a core part of their offering, and this resonates perfectly with their intended audience.

How Can Brands Best Serve Today’s (and Tomorrow’s) Customer?

The customer has always, and will always, come first. To help your brand keep a customer-centric attitude at all times, we recommend adhering to the following five commandments...

  1. Know Your Customer

    The first step to meeting your customers’ needs is obtaining a clear understanding of them. Gather data from all available sources. Be proactive and creative with segmentation. Regularly experiment and iterate to optimize your approach.

  2. Involve Your Customer

    Give your audience every opportunity to engage with your brand. Be responsive – keep your customer support razor-sharp, on-brand and genuine. Keep the flow of communication open, and be active across all channels. Respond to reviews and social media comments - even the smallest of interactions have an impact.

  3. Celebrate Your Customer

    Actively put your customers on a pedestal – celebrate and shout about your desire to understand and better meet their needs! User-generated content is authentic and incredibly persuasive, so make sure you keep it front and center across all appropriate channels.

  4. Connect Your Customer

    Don’t shy away from providing your audience with the space in which to interact and leave their own impressions. Reviews can be a great way to integrate the thoughts and feelings of your customers directly into your product pages, marketing material, email campaigns, and much more. Acting as a form of customer-to-customer reassurance, user-generated content of this nature helps support and inform buying decisions long after the original customer’s purchase.

  5. Reward Your Customer

    Show your customers that you truly value their loyal and continued support. Whether this is through a traditional loyalty program or donating to causes you know they care about - finding ways to demonstrate your appreciation will help foster the kind of relationships that can stand the test of time.

Ready to Rise to the Challenge?

Nothing stands still for long in ecommerce, but the need to meet the demand of your customers with well-considered supply is a constant -– and today this remit goes far beyond product alone.

The need to celebrate, support, connect, involve, and above all understand the customer has never been greater – but at the same time, neither has the opportunity for the brands who are getting this right.

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