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Shu Mei Chua: Remapping the customer journey to enhance the shopping experience (Part 2)

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Shu Mei Chua: Remapping the customer journey to enhance the shopping experience (Part 2)

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Author: SHU MEI CHUA

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven consumers to shop for goods and services online and this trend is likely to continue even after the pandemic is contained. In the second of our two-part series, we discuss how certain stages of the customer journey have changed and how retailers should adapt their digital strategies to keep consumers engaged.

The pandemic has upended all aspects of normal life in Singapore. During the extended period of staying at home, consumers have been forced into new habits as their daily routines, needs and priorities are re-examined.

As we discussed in the first part, there has been an acceleration of digital adoption among consumers and this has led to an increase in online shopping activity. While this trend is likely to continue after the coronavirus comes under control, consumer habits continue to be reshaped daily. Businesses must thus stay alert to the changing trends and remain agile in their strategies.

Product discovery now begins online

As consumers become savvier online, they will become more sensitive to the experience. Merely having an online or mobile presence is no longer sufficient for businesses to capture consumer interest. Retailers must ensure that potential customers have a positive experience browsing their website across multiple devices, including mobile.

This means that the differentiating factors for websites often come down to the intuitiveness, clarity, and design of the website. It has been shown that the attention span of an online user lies somewhere around eight to fifteen seconds, before the user gets distracted and leaves the website. The attention span on mobile devices is thought to be even shorter.

So, as consumers begin the first phase of their online buying journey, retailers will need to examine the load times for their websites. A glitzy and animated website that is chocked full of content typically means longer load times and will lose the attention of the consumer. A 2017 study by Think with Google showed that if people have a negative experience on mobile, they are 62% less likely to purchase from the shop in the future.

Virtuous cycle of positive reviews

Meanwhile, consumer reviews have long been part and parcel of the online shopping experience. Potential consumers can very quickly form an impression of the product or the company without making an actual purchase. Very often, these online reviews also influence purchase decisions.  

 

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Retailers on online shopping platforms have to actively manage their review pages. This could involve retailers proactively reaching out to customers for a product review.  Sometimes, this will also require handling negative customer reviews when slip-ups happen. Remember, no response is a response, and with social media, issues can very quickly spiral out of control. A study done by Harvard Business Review showed that when businesses respond to reviews, they receive 12% more reviews in turn, and their ratings on the online platform increase by 0.12 stars.

Contactless last mile delivery as default

Finally, we note that in Phase 2 of the circuit breaker in Singapore, traffic at physical retail locations remains below pre-pandemic levels based on a recent Google’s mobility report. Mobility trends for retail and recreation locations, such as restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, were  down 16% in end-August compared to January- February 2020 before the first detected case of COVID-19 in the country.

As consumers continue to shop online, contactless delivery may soon become the default last mile option. Retailers will have to rethink the purpose of their physical shop space and redesign the peak moment for consumers.

For instance, for an online grocer or seafood retailer, the unboxing of the package when it is delivered becomes the moment of truth for the consumer, which in turns determines how satisfied she is with the shopping experience. Putting a personalized note, or letting the customer know the people working behind the scenes can help pull the customer closer to the brand.

Posted by SHU MEI CHUA