Most consumers want retailers to compete for their business. They’re looking for information, options and complimentary products – along with assurances that their business is wanted.
This is true with online and traditional shopping. Just because your Web site uses new technology, don’t think that consumer psychology has changed too. Customers generally buy the way they always have. The difference: On the Internet, you don’t have the nose-to-nose opportunity to persuade them that your product is the one they want.
Nevertheless, a five-step sales process is still valid online. Each step feeds the others, so two or more steps may operate at the same time on the same page by e-customers:
Step 1: Prospect – Customers usually come to your Web site because they were lured with good marketing, they are familiar with your product, or they searched the Internet and your name came up.
Whatever the reason, the customer is there. If you have a promotion, make sure it’s on the first page. And be sure the landing page offers immediate guidance to the cyber department customers are seeking. If you don’t deliver quickly, you run a big risk of losing them.
A word about promotions. They are an effective means of cross-selling related products. But keep in mind that what you think is logical may appear nonsensical to the customer, who could wind up not buying either the main product or the related promotion.
Step 2: Rapport – With traditional shopping, customers’ five senses work overtime. They are presented with product arrangements, eye-catching designs and opportunities to smell, feel and try merchandise. In addition, a motivated and skilled staff is ready to answer questions and add a sense of comfort when shopping in person.
Online, there is usually little of this. Rapport is built through navigation and links, which both involve sensitivity to customers’ shopping habits. If you make navigation too simple, you can lose cross-selling opportunities. Make it too complicated and you could lose customers due to confusion.
In terms of linking, every sentence is a potential link to a buying opportunity. Links replace human sales staff, provide more information, meet shopping preferences and offer new ideas (for example, “customers who bought this product also bought…”) But then again, too many links lead to frustration and too few lead to disinterest.
Step 3: Qualifying – This is a big online challenge. In person, you can start a dialogue to determine, or qualify, what the customer needs. Online, you must set up categories, sub-categories and cross-references. Classify by department, brand, function, gender, age, best-sellers and price, among other categories. Make changes after watching your Web logs for navigation path activity.
Your web architecture should clearly and easily lead prospects to the right aisle and take into account the three basic shopper types:
Determined shoppers know just what they want because they have a need or have responded to an ad.
Curious shoppers have a general idea of what they want but need guidance.
Browsers are window shopping and need a nudge to purchase.
Step 4: Presenting – By now, the customer has a better idea of what’s available and you present options: Colours, sizes, materials, price, men’s, women’s, children’s, consumer, industrial, commercial.
Be persuasive: Address the user’s needs at every step of the process. Captivate shoppers with colours, shapes, sizes and prices. Appeal to the emotional aspects of making the purchase.