4 Ways to Personalize Your Customers' Online Buying Experience
If you’ve been a loyal customer to a certain business for months or years, you want that loyalty to be recognized. In fact, it’s not unreasonable to expect to feel like the business “knows” you and appreciates your support.
When customers frequent a brick-and-mortar shop, the employees may greet them by name, or remember their favorite orders. When customers visit your store online, they deserve a similar recognition — and modern, cloud-based ecommerce systems are making it easier for retailers to give it to them.
Personalizing customers’ shopping experiences based on their previous activity and personal preferences has plenty of potential benefits. It can deepen customers’ relationships with your brand and keep them coming back. A more relevant shopping experience can also lead to increased purchases.
Finally, the information collected in the effort to personalize customers’ shopping experiences can yield valuable insights into general customer behavior. You can then use those insights to inform the rest of your marketing strategy, including creating individual campaigns for targeted groups.
Here are just a few of the simple ways you can start making customers’ experiences more personal.
Enable Account Details and Purchase History
Seeing your name displayed at the top of your favorite ecommerce store along with a greeting is a great start to a personalized shopping experience.
Most ecommerce software makes it easy for shoppers to see and manage their account details, including shipping and credit card information for easy checkout.
Giving customers the ability to easily see what they’ve purchased throughout their relationship with your business can be a big convenience for them. They may need to look back at what they bought for their personal records, or because they want to reorder a product. Having their purchase record linked to their account also makes potential returns and exchanges much easier, both for them and for your in-store staff.
Most ecommerce systems give retailers the ability to link every purchase to a customer account. This includes not just purchases made directly through the web site or online store, but the ones made in-person and even through other online channels, such as Amazon or Etsy. This ability for omnichannel sales gives retailers the full picture of a customer’s relationship with your store.
(Note: Consumer privacy is important, and it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer to get a better understanding of how to ethically handle things like collecting personal customer data, tracking their behavior, and keeping them logged into your site).
Track and Display Customers’ Loyalty Points
Loyalty programs can be powerful tools for improving customer experience.
When customers can earn points for each purchase they make, they have more of an incentive to increase their purchases to earn more rewards. They’ll also see clearly that their business is recognized and appreciated.
But loyalty programs also give customers a good reason to stay logged into their accounts when they buy. When customers are logged in (instead of buying anonymously), you gather more valuable data that can in turn be used to make their experiences more pleasant.
Most top ecommerce programs make it easy for customers to see their reward details at a glance. Systems may display customers’ reward point totals, show how many more points they need to get to the next “status level” or big reward, and even calculate how many points they stand to earn with the items in their cart.
Again, the best modern ecommerce software will allow customers to accrue loyalty points not just for purchases made through the web store, but at any point of purchase (in store, through Facebook, etc.). In fact, modern point of sale systems can make it easy for in-store customers to sign up and for loyalty programs right at the point of purchase, creating a continuous experience across sales channels.
Show Previously Viewed Products and Suggestions
In many cases, it takes several visits to a website before a purchase is finally made. Sometimes consumers have to research buying decisions or run the purchase by their spouse. Sometimes they simply don’t have time to complete the purchase. Other times they’re waiting to bundle their purchase with other products.
Whatever the reason, their shopping gets a lot easier if they’re shown exactly what they viewed on their last visit when they logged in.
In addition to showing “previously viewed” products, modern ecommerce software can also display recommended or related products based on those views, or on the products that customer has purchased in the past.
If these programs do their jobs properly, customers will log in and find a helpful display of products that relate directly to their needs.
Let Customers Track Wish Lists and Favorite Items
As we just mentioned, showing customers which products they last viewed is one way to reorient them to your store and help them along in their shopping experience.
But you can take it a step further by letting online shoppers save their favorite products within their accounts.
Ideally, they will be able to create wishlists or even registries from the items you sell. Some software tools allow them to see everything they want at a glance, and even share their wishlist privately with friends and family or publicly through social media.
These features are especially valuable when your store specializes in selling items that make ideal gifts, such as books, toys, or housewares.
And thanks to the versatility of cloud-based software, features like wishlists, registries, and product suggestions may be available as add-ons or integrations even if they aren’t included in the core software.
A Final Note
It can be exciting to add the latest personalization features to your ecommerce site. But first, consider whether other improvements are necessary.
As Paul Boag wrote for the Shopify blog, personalization can definitely be a potent sales tool, but it won’t help much if your site:
Is difficult to access (making visitors suffer through slow load times or incorrect displays on certain devices)
Confuses visitors (makes it difficult to find a certain product, or has an unclear or unwieldy checkout process)
Doesn’t make your products look appealing (such as by leveraging professional images and helpful descriptions)
The fact is that in some cases, personalization can come across as intrusive or off-putting, such as when product recommendations are consistently irrelevant to the customer’s needs.
Boag suggests that fixing some of the more fundamental usability and aesthetic aspects of your site, such as professional images or better product categorization, may actually be very affordable. This is definitely something to consider before you make any commitments to additional software.
Cloud-based ecommerce systems can be very exciting. They can integrate with other specialized software, such as POS, CRM, HR, and accounting programs to create comprehensive solutions for your business.
However, it takes many hours of research to vet program options, get them set up, and train staff on how to use them.
If you’re currently trying to decide which ecommerce software fits your needs or how to prioritize your ecommerce budget, we hope you consider teaming up with our cloud-based software specialists.
At Cloudscape Technologies, we work with business owners to streamline the job of finding and implementing the best software on the market. We enable owners and managers to continue the hard work of running their business without any disruption from the software search. We’re certified in the best retail software on the market, and we cater to the needs of small and medium sized retail businesses.
To learn more, click here to request a free, no-obligation consultation.