According to a recent A.C. Nielson survey, shoppers have concrete reasons for buying in “brick and mortar” stores rather than online. Below are the top reasons why people shop offline and my advice to ecommerce owners on how to mimic the “real” store feel to boost your sales.
A.C. Nielson sites:
“58% of the people polled shop in stores because they wanted to physically evaluate the product before purchasing.”
“52% didn’t want to wait for the product to ship.”
“43% didn’t want to pay shipping and handling.”
“27% wanted to talk to a sales person in person, before purchasing.”
“23% thought they could find a better price in store.”
“14% weren’t sure anyone would be home when the item was delivered by a third-party shipper.”
“11% wanted to support a local business.”
“5% listed none of the above.”
Physically Evaluate Product
For some products there is no substitute for seeing, trying on and/or holding the real thing. That being said, there are some tactics which will alleviate customer questions. The tactics you use depend on what type of products you sell. A tactic that works for some of the best shoe selling eccomerce sites is offering free shipping in both directions and a no-hassle return policy. Now the consumer has the best of both worlds, the extensive selection provided by the ecommerce site and the ability to “physically evaluate” the product without hassle, cost or risk. Some products may not lend themselves to this approach. In that case, the best way to mimic personally evaluating a product is to create many different interactive views of the item, allowing the user to zoom in and out in multiple directions. If you own a retail ecommerce store this can be critical, especially for clothing. When buying apparel, people not only want to see different views of the clothing, but they want to know how it fits on their body type. A great way to show them is to display multiple sized models wearing the clothes.
As mentioned above, free shipping can be a great solution. If you’re small, however, you may not have the funds or profit margins to offer this. A more cost effective approach may be to offer free shipping specials, especially during the holiday seasons. During the holidays, the malls are so clogged with people that shoppers will flock to your online specials. Make offers that make sense for your company. For example, if you own an ecommerce gift shop, create a special offer of free shipping on all $100 purchases. Another helpful option for shoppers is a shipping calculator. The shopper provide their area code the calculator shows them how much the item will cost to ship, well before they have made a purchase decision. This way, there are no surprises when it comes to checkout time and shoppers appreciate your understanding and help.
Shoppers want to talk to someone and get reissurance regaring their potential purchases. Pricing and product descriptions do help, but real opinions from other customers are highly valued. Add a customer review feature to assure consumers that they won’t be sorry with their purchase.
Shoppers sometimes think they can find a better price in the big chain or mall store. Demonstrate that you are comfortable with the value you provide by encouraging them to check out chain store websites. This may prevent them from driving to the big-box store and making the purchase because it’s convenient. If the customer checks out the chain store website first they will come back to you if really are the better value. Shoppers want things quick and easy; if they travel to a store and find the product is more expensive they will still most likely purchase it because of the convenience. If they check it out online first you may get them NOT to make that trip.
If shoppers are worried they will not be home when their package arrives, suggest they have it shipped to work.
Support the Local Business
I understand that people want to keep the smaller companies in business… let them know most ecommerce stores are also small businesses owned by people that live in their neighborhoods.