Over the last few centuries, one can imagine that the process of shopping has experienced little change. With the arrival of the digital age, shopping has become a multifaceted experience for both business and consumer.
A decade or two ago, furnishing your house was a time consuming mission. For many, it involved dedicating several weekends visiting different shops, constrained by opening hours, unsure of what to expect, limited in options, hesitant whether you’d find what you’re looking for and unaware of the average budget you’d need. It was more of a trial and error kind of exercise, not to mention limiting and time consuming.
While the buyer may have evolved through the years, the buyer’s journey remained unchanged, broken down into three stages.
- Awareness stage – The buyer realises that there is a need to be addressed, or has a problem to be solved.
- Consideration stage – In order to find a solution, the buyer does some research.
- Decision stage – After filtering through a few options, the buyer chooses a solution that best answers the need or solves the problem.
The new buyer
Nowadays, the shopping experience is done at ones fingertips, a few clicks online and you’ll have what you need with a next day delivery! It has been reported that 46% of consumers prefer to do the full journey of product research and online shopping from their smartphone.
Online shopping keeps improving on the speed and services offered, putting stores and retailers at a disadvantage. If you’re a retailer, you’ll want to close on that gap and attract that 46% of prospects to visit your store. The way to achieve this is to have your own online e-commerce website.
The advantages of having an e-commerce site are numerous. For one, your services is open 24/7, so you are generating sales outside your normal business hours. The new buyer has the mind-set where instant gratification is a priority. They don’t want to wait for your business to open in order to make their purchases – an e-commerce website is what they need, available anytime and at their convenience.
Expanding your reach
As a business, you can broaden your customer base by reaching out to new prospects in making products and services available to those shoppers who find it inconvenient to travel, and also to international customers if you’re ambitious enough – you could reach every corner of the world.
Targeting is another advantage that comes into play with an e-commerce site. Through measuring your conversion success rate, you can learn more about your customers. Having an insight of your site visitors can help you target their needs more efficiently, resulting in more sales. It all revolves around capturing and analysing the data of your typical site visitor. With an e-commerce site, you can learn the average age of your clients, their interests, the country that they’re from and all sorts of information which, when combined, can help you towards providing products and services that will likely meet their needs.
Speed and convenience
Today, the buyer’s journey is no longer a matter of days and weeks. It has evolved into one of high expectation fuelled by impatience. With that in mind, it is important that any e-commerce site loads within three seconds. Allowing the buyer’s journey from research to check out with as few clicks as possible is critical. The user journey is a key element in converting prospects into buyers, because if your site is slow, the user will immediately switch to another site at the click of a button. Instant gratification and user experience are two important aspects of e-commerce.
Another advantage is that you are able to reach out to customers who have added items to a shopping cart and then left the site. Perhaps they got distracted or changed their mind? You can give them a helpful reminder of their potential purchase by targeting your site visitors with online advertising, reminding them of the services you offer or, through capturing the email address of the user, you can also send a discount towards the incomplete checkout. At times, it can be all about the price and deals that makes a user choose you from your competitor.
Having an e-commerce site comes with a number of advantages and growth opportunities. When the target of every business is to increase sales, have loyal customers and growth, a good e-commerce website can help to achieve these goals by building relationships with your audience, away from your business premises, and allow you to be more competitive. In an era where digital is conquering the world, one needs to consider changing the way business is done. After all, a business that adapts to change is a business that thrives.