Understanding Buyers’ Preferences: 5 Ways Retailers Can Gain and Retain Customers
Retailers have never been more challenged to deliver a superior experience to consumers. According to our recent survey of 1,000 buyers, vendor reputation is the most important factor for consumers shopping online, cited as such by 86 percent of shoppers globally. This statistic reflects a preference for honest business practices and transparency. Consumers want to feel that if they give up their personal information, they have some semblance of control too. When consumers feel protected, they act with their wallets.
It’s not just reputation that increases loyalty, it’s also consistent high-quality products and a customer-oriented culture. If merchants want to gain and retain customers, they need to focus on five key points:
- Invest in customer service. Reaching a real person is reassuring, no matter where customers are. Customers don’t like when it's hard to reach live support. In fact, more than half (55 percent) of shoppers say it's a serious concern. Despite the increasing use of chatbots, being able to reach a human is a key factor for one in two customers.
- Provide advanced security. Top-notch fraud protection is critical to communicate to consumers, especially in an era of heightened awareness. Consumers feel confident when they see multilevel defense strategies that will secure data and retain privacy. On a scale of one to five, consumers feel that their privacy is not fully respected (scoring a 2.5 overall, on a scale from one “not at all” to five “fully”). Therefore, merchants need to communicate that it’s a priority to protect shoppers’ information.
- Prioritize and encourage positive reviews over discounts or free trials. Product reviews are one of the most influential factors in buying decisions, more than discounts and free trials. Consumers view reviews as a credible source of feedback. Clearly, having a significant volume of reviews goes hand in hand with a good customer experience and good quality products or services. Money-back guarantees are also a very important factor, rated "high" by 67 percent of consumers.
- Provide customers with the ability to easily change or cancel subscriptions. In today’s digitized world where subscription-based services and products are gaining ground, merchants need to pay more attention to how their customers are able to manage their subscriptions in the long run. In order for buyers to trust a retailer, they need to feel like they are in the driving seat — i.e., that they have full control over their purchases. In fact, 78 percent of shoppers want the capability to change or cancel a subscription at any time, which is also ranked as extremely important for the purchase decision. Merchants need to provide their customers with tools and access to self-service and assisted support in order to allow them to manage their subscriptions seamlessly, 24/7.
- Optimize websites and content. Search remains the most important mode of discovery for websites around the world, with 78 percent of shoppers rating it as their first choice for how they find a product. Online ads rate as least effective with only 11 percent of consumers saying it’s their go-to for discovery. Retailers need to focus on improving search capabilities and keywords, closely related to good quality content regardless of its format, to capitalize on this proclivity.
Understanding consumers’ habits and preferences is key to reaching them effectively with the right products and offers, as well as providing the expected support via their preferred channels.
Insights about when and how customers make choices can empower merchants to make better sales and marketing decisions to boost revenue and increase loyalty.
Erich Litch is the chief revenue officer at 2Checkout, an online payment processing service.
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