In 2019, the adoption of disruptive and innovative technologies will be what sets apart the retailers that thrive from those that fall behind. The winners will be those that champion seamless and personalized approaches to e-commerce and truly offer a convenient and easy shopping experience. Here are five tips for retailers to implement in order to ensure a successful year:
1. Give shoppers more payment options at checkout.
Financing empowers customers with the knowledge that they can check out and pay over time, on their terms. While many retailers consider payment methods an afterthought, they can actually be critical to their success. The payment process should be fully transparent and easy to understand, and used as a way to indicate to shoppers that they're in control of the purchase experience.
Consumers are showing that they're willing to not only shop online for big-ticket items, but also use financing options to make those purchases, particularly if they can pay for those items in small monthly payments over time. In fact, following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shoppers who financed their purchases with Bread spent nearly 3 times more per order, on average, than shoppers who didn’t.
Retailers can integrate white-labeled financing options into e-commerce platforms, allowing customers to pre-qualify for financing before they even add items to their cart. This empowers consumers with greater purchasing power while enabling them to create a better connection with retailers. Better yet, it builds loyalty directly into the payment experience.
2. Appeal to desire for personalization.
Consumers value choice, both in the items they’re purchasing and how they pay for them. There's also an expectation from consumers that online retailers will tailor their payment options to their desires, instead of the other way around. Consumers have become accustomed to a personalized shopping journey, which includes payment options that fit their needs.
Big-ticket items can cause sticker shock and quickly turn a customer away long before checkout. That's why financing options that allow the shopper to pay for an item through small, monthly installments — as opposed to in a lump sum — can keep these customers engaged, particularly when surfaced earlier on in the funnel.
3. Streamline the payment experience.
One of the most overlooked aspects of loyalty is the connection to the ease of an e-commerce payment ecosystem. Paying online often comes with added friction since customers are traditionally asked to fill out lengthy forms with a host of personal credentials, slowing down the purchase process.
An enhanced payment experience is also reliant upon an e-commerce platform that can connect your payments processing, checkout and loyalty solution. Looping in payments, loyalty and technology into one e-commerce experience delivers the type of seamless shopping journey customers demand in today’s digital-first ecosystem.
4. Maintain engagement across multiple channels.
There’s a middle ground that can be struck between bombarding shoppers with emails and targeting them with fewer touchpoints at just the right time. Personalization, a major piece of any engagement strategy, is key to finding the right formula to turning an ordinary shopper experience into sustained loyalty. Shoppers who feel that a retailer is meeting their needs are more likely to build an authentic connection to that brand.
To get the omnichannel process started, retailers can provide offers through multiple channels. This can be done through email marketing, on-site promotions or external ads (e.g., social and search). Each of these channels serves as a valuable tool to improve brand relationships and engage shoppers deeper in the sales funnel at a faster pace. The result is that new customers feel engaged and understood, and past customers are reminded to re-engage with the brand. In 2019, the retailers that embrace an omnichannel approach will surely come out on top.
5. Beef up your mobile site security to improve conversions.
Anyone operating in retail today needs a mobile commerce strategy. And while it’s true that the conversion rate on desktop is still higher vs. mobile, this conversion gap isn’t because people don’t like shopping on their phones or tablets. It’s because the mobile shopping experience leaves a lot to be desired — starting with security.
Many consumers aren't confident in sharing secure information when shopping on their mobile device, making this a major hindrance to conversion. Retailers need to start alleviating concerns by beefing up their mobile site’s security. For starters, they must see to it that their SSL certificate is up-to-date and that any information submitted through their site is encrypted.
This may seem like a small detail, however, in today’s digitized society marked by frequent breaches, security goes a long way in the eyes of the customer.
2019 will undoubtedly bring momentous changes to the retail industry as consumer preferences continue to seismically shift. As mobile shopping gains momentum, payment processes become more streamlined, and the priorities of consumers move towards experiences, companies must follow suit or risk falling behind.
However, by following the tips above, retailers can ensure they're on the bleeding edge of industry trends and set themselves up for a successful year.
Julie Butensky is the director of business development at Bread, a full-funnel financing solution.
Related story: Total Retail's 50 Best Retail Tips of 2018