With bricks and mortar retail stores under pressure from social distancing rules and high rents, more people than ever are shopping online, with ecommerce predicted to generate $4.9 trillion in the United States during 2021 and $25.8 billion in Australia. Unquestionably, the future of retail growth is in ecommerce.
But while all that increased revenue sounds alluring, only ecommerce brands prepared to build a fantastic customer experience mixing personalization, expert product curation, and brilliant inventory management - with healthy attention to accessibility and speed - are likely to outperform the rest.
Motivating a customer to buy is trickier than simply adding an “add to cart" button to a product web page – it’s about attracting shoppers to a site, engaging them with a compelling customer experience, and luring them back to buy again and again. It’s also about finding that ‘secret sauce’ that makes customers convert.
Google’s new Online Shopping Trends Report breaks down ecommerce customer preferences in the US, UK, India, and Brazil. Google’s new ecommerce insights are worth unpicking for ecommerce site owners and marketers who want more online sales revenue.
Let’s take a look at three of the trends that Google touched upon, and how an ecommerce search engine can address them.
Ecommerce insight 1: No surprise, discounts are a big motivator
Everyone loves a discount – lower prices, free shipping, and promotions were the biggest motivators for ecommerce customers in the United States, according to Google’s report.
A recent study from Claremont Graduate University found that when presented with a $10 coupon, shoppers experienced a 38% increase in oxytocin, one of the trio of happy hormones that also include dopamine and serotonin.
The study also found that discounts make shoppers sweat less - literally. Participants in the study perspired up to 32% less compared to others in the study who did not receive a coupon.
"The study proves that not only are people who get a coupon happier, less stressed, and experience less anxiety, but also that getting a coupon is physically shown to be more enjoyable than getting a gift." - Dr. Paul J. Zak
Offering cheaper product prices goes beyond just making your shoppers feel great too. Estimates have shown that discounts help 75% of US customers who would otherwise abandon their shopping cart follow through with a purchase.
But how can ecommerce professionals exploit the emotional high of product discounts without going broke? Simple: make sure onsite search is configured to maximize the potential of a solid discounting strategy.
For example, ecommerce product pages should hold data on the original price and the discount price, to make sure users can always see the available discount for products. Site owners can then turn on - or turn off - the discounting as their pricing strategy and marketing campaigns dictate.
Site search algorithms can also be used to boost discounted products to appear higher in search results, particularly if ecommerce site owners know which discounts convert better than others.
After a user has run a search query, allow the results to be sorted by the biggest discount or price savings, giving your bargain-seeking shoppers the power to navigate to the product that’s most likely to be added to the shopping cart. You can also include filters to show items that are on sale.
The ability to support natural language queries like “on sale sneakers” or “cheap t-shirts” can also help deliver the right bargains to a shopper intent on finding a discount - and only site search that supports natural language processing can deliver this.
Ecommerce insight 2: Shoppers want an awesome experience - CX is the new UX
We might have laughed at retail stores that puffed perfumes or other scents through their stores to increase foot traffic, but creating memorable and tangible experiences is a key driver of retail sales. And it’s the same online.
Seamlessly integrating the emotionally charged features of shopping with the digital convenience of exceptional delivery, customer service and hassle-free returns are the expectation most ecommerce customers now have. It’s about the customer experience from the first touchpoint through to follow up and customer care.
PwC has found that 42% of people will pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. In the US, 65% also say they find a positive digital experience to be more influential than advertising when shopping online. That’s powerful stuff that’s only going to become more competitive as the dollar signs for ecommerce get bigger.
But just how can ecommerce sites enhance their customer experience? We’ve written before about how to solve the out of stock problem for ecommerce customers to deliver a better customer experience using onsite search.
It’s also important that ecommerce websites meet accessibility and speed standards while being easy to navigate and search. A two-second delay in page load time can increase bounce rates by 103 percent, according to this Akamai report. Even worse, a 100-millisecond delay in load time can reduce conversion by 7 percent or more.
When Sajari worked with Australia’s largest ecommerce retailer Catch.com.au, we increased sales conversion by more than 10 percent by optimizing onsite search. With 43 percent of online transactions starting with a site search, crafting a fantastic site search experience is the cornerstone of a great customer experience.
Onsite search can provide query suggestions to save users typing time, as well as handling spelling corrections so customers don’t have to get bogged down searching twice for what they need.
The real showstopper, when it comes to delivering superior customer experience, is personalizing search results to boost products that match a user’s specific shopping preferences - for example, if a given user always buys Nike clothes, boosting Nike sneakers in the results will save them a lot of time trying to find the perfect pair.
Ecommerce insight 3: Customers are getting smarter, the competition is getting hotter
Recent surveys have revealed that 62 percent of consumers won’t complete an online purchase without searching elsewhere for an offer - after all, we’re all just one more search away from finding a cheaper price and buying a product from a competitor.
Shoppers want to see all the different product specifications - not just color or price, but also stock levels and delivery times - and they like imagery and video that shows off not just the features of each product but also the overall benefits.
Today’s online customers visit a site knowing the product they want, the size they want it in, and the price they’re willing to pay. So if ecommerce site owners fail to include rich and detailed product information, then they risk that customer clicking away elsewhere to find the detail they need.
So for those customers who know exactly what they are looking for? Leverage your product data - like Catch.com.au did - and choose to show this information in search results. Your customers can get a quick overview of your product offering, so they’re only one click away from checkout.
We've touched upon a few insights from Google's Ecommerce Trends Report, but other interesting ecommerce research for those keen to master the art of crafting a great online shopping experience include:
- Magento’s Ecommerce Trends in 2020
- PWC’s The Future of Customer Experience
- Understanding How Millennial Shoppers Decide What To buy
- Oberlo’s The Future of Ecommerce 2020
- Inside Australian Online Shopping
Search solutions like Sajari allow businesses to adapt to shopper preferences through their own onsite search, by providing search and recommendation tools that meet customer demand. Our machine learning search enables ecommerce sites to understand customer behavior at scale, and work to put the right product in front of the right buyer when they run a particular search query.
Site search can support a range of different browser behaviors and shopping personas - let those who like clicking endlessly discover more white shirts to look at while those who want the latest iPhone cover to find what they want and purchase seamlessly and quickly.
Want to ensure more of your discounted products are found from a search? Adjust your search algorithm, and boost the products you know your customers will love. Ensure you’re providing a great digital customer experience by delighting shoppers with the most relevant products from a search.
If you want more information on ecommerce trends or how to use search to meet the needs of your customers, book a demo with an onsite search specialist like Sajari.