Clicking with Consumers

by Jessica Ramesh

We scrutinise some of the issues shaping the way we shop online and track the evolution of online retail

You are your customer experience

As brands in all sectors struggle to cut through the noise and distinguish their products or services, the customer experience becomes paramount. In fact, as expectations evolve, the customer experience is the brand. That means embracing a multichannel strategy and combining online and offline activity. But a word of warning. According to Bain & Company, 80 per cent of CEOs believe they deliver a superior customer experience. Only eight per cent of their customers agree.

Local results for local people

Local searches prompt 50 per cent of mobile users to visit stores on the day of their search, according to Google. And searches containing the phrase ‘near me’ have increased 34 times since 2011. With four out of five users conducting local searches on mobile devices, it’s clear that consumers are looking for quick solutions to immediate needs.

Customers and customisation

From left-handed jackets to hand-moulded headphones to furniture created specifically for you, smart retailers are using customisation to set themselves apart. This is a strategy which literally puts the customer first and generates the reassuring sense that, as consumers, everything is designed around us. And with buyers proudly displaying their one-offs online, you’ve got an instant army of advocates.

Turning conversation into conversion

Community, conversation and connecting are the cornerstones of social media. But as platforms evolve, users and retailers alike are embracing social media as a sales channel. Direct response carries advantages for buyers and sellers alike, and for marketers there’s the opportunity to target users, get instant feedback, build relationships and share content. Your keywords here: authenticity, context and high quality content.

Moving to mobile payment

Never mind the mythical year of mobile. (It probably happened in 2007.) We’re now entering the era of mobile payment. Deloitte report that global in-store mobile payments will increase 1,000 per cent during 2015. Five per cent of all smartphones in the world will be used at least once a month to make contactless in-store payments at retail outlets.

Take it personally

Connected customers expect to be met with relevant information across all devices and channels. And most are happy to give up their data to marketers, as long as they receive a rich, unique and valuable experience in return. According to a survey by DigitasLBi, 70 per cent of shoppers say they’d agree to new in-store tracking technologies if there was an offer of personalised benefits. Seventy-six per cent also say they buy more when they’re met with personalised retail offers, and 78 per cent say they buy more often.

Buy line: the evolution of online retail

1979
The first online shopping system is demonstrated by UK inventor Michael Aldrich.

1981
Thomson Holidays UK installs the first B2B online shopping system.

1994
The first secure online retail transaction takes place: a CD of Ten Summoner’s Tales by Sting goes for £7.74 at NetMarket.

1995
Amazon launches. eBay opens for business. The first item sold is a broken laser pointer. Price:  $14.83.

1996
Hotmail launches. AT&T launch the first net-enabled mobile phone.

1998
Google launches. Forty-one shades of blue have been tested in the company’s logo.

1999
Napster launches. In 2000 Metallica take them to court alleging that the service is guilty of copywright infringement.

2000
Google AdWords launches in beta. First customer is Lively Lobsters in Kingston, Rhode Island. (Keyword: lobster). The dot-com bubble bursts.

2003
The iTunes Store opens.

2004
Thefacebook launches. Membership is restricted to Harvard students. Within a month half of all Harvard’s undergraduates have registered.

2005
YouTube launches. First uploaded video is Me at the Zoo. It’s still there and has been viewed more than 19m times.

2007
The iPhone is launched. The iPad follows in 2009.

2012
‘Showrooming’ enters the marketing lexicon.

2013
More than £91 billion is spent online in the UK. Showrooming is blamed for the demise of UK photography chain Jessops.

2015
PayPal outline biometric alternatives to the password, including vein recognition, ingestible technology and computer chip tattoos.

Compiled by Estelle Hakner and Jon Fortgang