Ecommerce sales grew more than 34% in 2020 and continued to grow more than 15% in 2021. Consumers have turned to online buying for just about everything, including clothing, sporting goods, and consumer electronics.
But there are several challenges for consumers while buying products online, such as missing or unclear product information or the inability to consult with a knowledgeable sales associate. While brick-and-mortar return rates average between 8 and 10%, it is no surprise that ecommerce return rates are double that.
People like buying from people they know, even online. As we move into 2022 and we rise out of the pandemic, consumers will crave more social interaction and in-person shopping. Online shopping won’t go away, but consumers will demand better experiences between shopping online and visiting stores.
The consumer shopping experience will continue to be the biggest differentiator in online shopping. Customers who prefer to shop from home will be more vocal, at least with their wallets, and demand an elevated level of service.
Brands realize that what often separates them from competing brands, even more so than their product, is the customer’s experience and how they feel after a purchase. In their minds, if they can easily hop on FaceTime with a friend or a Zoom call at work, why can’t they connect with a brand similarly while shopping online? That was hard for eCommerce until recently, but it’s actually pretty simple now. Brands and retailers that provide a memorable shopping experience for their customers will drive repeat purchases, brand loyalty, and lifetime value.
People like buying from people they know, even online. [Repeat] Clienteling is a technique retail sales associates use to establish long-term relationships with customers based on data about their preferences, behaviors, and purchases. This elevated customer experience builds customer trust, drives loyalty, and substantially increases sales.
But clienteling isn’t new. It was common to have personal relationships with shopkeepers in your community back in the day. You would be greeted by name, and the associates would know your likes and dislikes. Sometimes shopkeepers tracked your information using note cards and their black books.
Now that the world has moved to digital, clienteling has taken on new meaning. Digital clienteling humanizes online shopping by creating a live shopping experience. Through live video, chat, and messaging, sales associates can demonstrate products from the catalog and help guide customers through the buying journey.
Sales associates use live video, similar to FaceTime, to interact with customers online. Customers can ask questions and see products “live” during the session. If the prospective customer has purchased from the store before or has engaged with a sales associate, then the sales associates have access to the customer’s history.
For example, let’s say that a customer purchased a leather coat in a brick-and-mortar store. A few weeks later, the customer is browsing online looking for boots that match the coat. They have an option to click on the Live Shopping button and work directly with a sales associate to find a matching pair of boots.
A sales associate begins a live video session with the shopper, being able to quickly see the customer’s shopping and browser history. The associate may show them several other styles and a belt or handbag that may interest them. Purchases are made right within the session.
The brand differentiates itself by giving customers the opportunity to have real, human-to-human conversations about their products and answer questions. People remember the way you made them feel.
Store associates can also be proactive. Rather than waiting for walk-in traffic, store associates can directly reach out to online shoppers, improving digital conversion rates and allowing employees to earn more if they work on commission.
Retailers that use digital clienteling are seeing a 60%+ increase in average order value (AOV), 29% increase in sales conversion rates, and 25% fewer returns. This is a huge win for online retailers.
We’re seeing the retail landscape shifting to more of a direct-to-consumer model, and customers want to interact directly with the brands they’re buying. That’s because the brands can offer a better experience themselves. Digital clienteling can give you a closer, more personal, and personalized interaction with your customers.