As COVID-19 has solidified the global shift from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce, there are considerations as to what gets lost in translation when someone is shopping online as opposed to in-person. Case in point: when Amazon and Whole Foods first announced their partnership, many wondered if customers would prefer to pick out their own produce, rather than trusting a delivery person to pick the freshest in the bunch and deliver to their doorstep. This physical interaction with a product before purchasing it is the reason that many are still clinging to the concept of in-store shopping. In fact, a 2019 study from BizFeel found that 51% of shoppers believe the biggest drawback of online shopping is not being able to touch, feel, and try a product, with other cited drawbacks including delay in delivery and the threat of scam or fraudulence.
This presents a minor yet solvable inconvenience for product-based companies that solely have an online presence. The question becomes, ‘How do we develop customer confidence in the product so they purchase before physically trying it?’ It’s a question that needs to be answered quickly, as online shopping is only becoming more prevalent.
The pandemic has driven more shoppers online, with e-commerce now accounting for 16.1% of all U.S. sales, up from 11.8% in the first quarter. Even before COVID-19 turned the world to virtual, researchers estimated that by 2023, e-commerce would comprise 22% of all sales. This doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers are on board, however – especially if they’ve shopped in-person for most of their lives. Only 41% of baby boomers and 28% of seniors prefer online shopping, according to research from Statista.
Consumer confidence can be boosted when a brand develops trust with their audience. Answering consumer’s questions, providing quality assurance, and helping customers choose the product that’s best for them with the flexibility of returns and exchanges, can minimize any resistance or concerns with making online purchases. Let’s look at how companies can address the commonly cited drawbacks of shopping online.
Offer Easy Returns And A Money-Back Guarantee
One of the major reasons that resistance arises for customers making online purchases is that they don’t want to handle the hassle of a return if the product isn’t up to par. The proof is in the pudding: according to a recent survey by Inmar Intelligence, 40% of respondents indicated that they have held off on making an online purchase since the COVID-19 outbreak began because they may have to return the item. And two-thirds (67%) of respondents check the returns page before making an online purchase. Meanwhile, 72% of respondents will purchase from an online retailer again if the returns process is easy.
Enforcing an easy return process is paramount and can boost customer confidence in purchasing online. But even better than having a straightforward return policy is to lessen the chances of returns at all.
“Our approach is to offer a full money-back guarantee. If you know your product is good, you’re giving people a risk-free way to try it and the return percentage overall is quite low,” says Kate Duff, brand coordinator at Fiera Cosmetics, a makeup brand for aging skin. Makeup is one of the trickiest products to sell online because of differentiations in skin types and skin colors.
“If you can stand behind your product’s quality, a money-back guarantee is totally the way to go, it shows customers that you have total confidence that they’ll like the product, which helps them feel confident, too,” she adds.
Augmented Reality Technology
The retail sector is expected to spend a $1.5 billion on augmented reality and virtual reality technology in 2020.
Sephora has boosted its technology with the addition of an augmented reality feature on their app allowing customers to virtually ‘try on’ makeup in the comfort of their homes. “In 2D try-on, the goal is that interacting and virtually trying on makeup or skin products will lead to an increase in sales,” said Dr. Parham Aarabi, founder and CEO of ModiFace, the creator of the technology.
Other makeup brands have followed suit, such as the HiMirror plus, a physical device that scans faces and recommends products based on the scan. Additionally, Warby Parker has rolled out its own virtual try-on technology, so customers can see how different eyeglass frames look on their face. This is a departure from their original model, which would ship frame options to the customer to try on in their homes before ordering.
Admittedly, some of these technologies have a long way to go to correctly match skin tones and meet consumer expectations. If your product is one that customers try on, the developments in augmented reality are worth following closely.
Reviews And Tutorials
There’s no such thing as too much information when it comes to marketing your product online. Aim to provide a bounty of customer reviews and tutorials on how to use your products on your website and on any marketplaces where your product is sold. This boosts trust and confidence amongst customers in a major way, as 95% of shoppers read reviews before making a purchase. And 80% of customers switch between online search and video when making purchasing choices.
Just as you would’ve trained a salesperson at a brick and mortar store on several talking points and product knowledge in order to sell a product, you need to ensure that customers can find several third-party reviews and recommendations online – essentially serving the same purpose a salesperson did – only now in the digital space.
Combining efforts for easy returns, money-back guarantees, and providing all the virtual information a customer may need, can skyrocket customer confidence and result in higher sales.
Published at Thu, 22 Oct 2020 10:18:45 +0000