How to create an offline shopping experience online

You see a good looking store on the high street and decide to take a look. You step in the doors and are blasted with those warm heaters that immediately remove the chill from the winters day outside.

A smiling member of staff welcomes you to the store and says ‘If you need anything just let me know’.

You browse around the store seeing what is on display; everything is beautifully presented.

You spot the Dinglehopper section on the back wall and head over to look closer.

You find the one you’re after but it’s not the size you want.

A quick call over to the assistant and they’re off with a smile saying ‘not a problem, give me 2 seconds and I’ll check for you’.

As you wait another customer is shopping nearby who happened to hear you and quickly says ‘I bought that Dinglehopper in orange last week and love them!’

Quickly the assistant returns with your Dinglehopper in hand. As you try it out they comment, ‘It looks great and you get 30 days to return if you change your mind. It goes great with those Gizmos over there too’. They then go back to their work leaving you to make your decision unpressured.

You’ve not found one like this before. You do really like it and it does go great with the Gizmo. It’s priced well too. You’ll buy it!

As you head to the checkout another member of staff is already waiting with a smile. They remark on what a good choice your product is and if you’ve seen the matching Falangie. You hadn’t!

You umm and arrr but decide to be sensible, ‘maybe next month’ you tell yourself. The assistant makes a remark about how they want to buy the Thingimagig but is waiting for next month too and asks if you found everything you were looking for.

They thank you for your custom and wish you a good day as they pop a coupon into your bag for next time; That’ll come in handy for the Thingimagig.

You walk out the store with your new purchase, excited to show your friends what you’ve bagged, with a smile on your face responding ‘and you’.

For a physical store a custom journey can’t get much better than that so why should it be different to your online store? Customer service has gained a huge amount of attention for eCommerce as well as personalisation turning an online shopping experience into a more intimate one. Let’s run through the scenario again but how you can recreate this great service online.

‘You see a good looking store on the high street and decide to take a look’

For physical stores location, shop name and window displays are the tools used to gain customers and it’s no different for online.

Store location is determined online as your search engine rankings. If your website is optimised well and you don’t have too fierce competition you could rank number 1 for Google and increase your ‘footfall’. Be aware this process can take years.

By generating a great brand name that will double up as your domain name you can generate more interest than just a generic ‘Dinglehopper Store’ and start to create your brand identity.

Try some of these to generate some ideas if you get stuck:
leandomainsearch.com
wordoid.com
domainr.com

Your online homepage is the window display of your website. Do you have attractive sliders or intro imagery, are you displaying your most sought after products there?


 

‘A smiling member of staff welcomes you to the store and says ‘If you need anything just let me know’.’

Firstly a welcome. Welcome messages can be effective at building a rapport with your customer and humanising your brand. If your customers have an account on your site why not use their details to personalise the site using their name like moo.com does.
welcome from moo

Secondly letting your customers know you are there to help whenever they need it is paramount. Whether you enable live chat through services like Olark, make your contact information clear, or provide FAQs it lets your customers know that you’re there when they need you.


 

‘You browse around the store seeing what is on display; everything is beautifully presented. You spot the dinglehopper section on the back wall and head over to look closer. ‘

Organise your site. Create a logical user journey, create product categories, enable a search feature. All of these elements along with a well thought out design and brand will help the customer enjoy their shopping experience and reduce confusion and abandonment.

Product photography is a huge factor in a well presented site and is worth paying a professional for, ensuring that your items look as desirable as possible. There will always be a gap between online retail and actually holding a product in your hands so make it as easy as possible for your customers to get an idea about it. ASOS do this by showing a catwalk of their products so customers can see how they fit, judge the weight and the movement of the fabric.

ASOS catwalk video


 

You find the one you’re after but it’s not the size you want. A quick call over to the assistant and they’re off with a smile saying ‘not a problem, give me 2 seconds and I’ll check for you’.

Online, fast response times are key. A study by Akamai claims 75% of the 1,058 people asked would not return to websites that took longer than four seconds to load. This also applies for customer service. Lithium wrote a post stating that 53 percent of those surveyed expect a brand to respond to their Tweet within the hour and this increases to 72% when they have a complaint.


75% of the 1,058 surveyed would not return to websites if it took longer than 4 seconds to load.
Click To Tweet



 

As you wait another customer is shopping nearby who happened to hear you and quickly says ‘I bought that Dinglehopper in orange last week and love them!’

Obviously in physical stores this isn’t something you can control but online customer reviews can be a huge help whether it’s helping convince a new shopper or even discovering product flaws. Give your customers incentives to review your products or a little reminder a week after delivery.

cusotmer reviews


 

As you try it out they comment, ‘It looks great and you get 30 days to return if you change your mind. I like to pair it with those Gizmos over there too’

2 points here you can utilise for eCommerce. The first being you can reassure your customer by being clear on your returns policy and shipping. Many sites even have these details right after their navigation but even adding these details onto your product pages can build buyer confidence.

The second point is product suggestions. These are quite common for online stores now but some companies have gone a step further with personal stylists and ‘complete the look’ sections instead of ‘related products’. Baublebar actually provide you with a stylist via video chat so they can show you the product and answer any questions.

Trunk Club also promote a stylist as their main USP meaning men no long have to shop, they do it for you! On a smaller scale ASOS use this feature to upsell by showing products that will ‘complete the look’.

Bauble bar screenshot
Bauble Bar’s personal shoppers


 

They then go back to their work leaving you to make your decision unpressured

I would make an educated guess and say many of us would rather casually browse a shop in our own time than be shouted at about discounts and offers, am I right?

So why would you do it online? Take it easy with those pop ups, please let my email account breathe for a few days before telling me you have yet another sale and if I’ve left something in my basket after a few months I’d take a guess that I don’t want to buy the product any more (thank you very much eBay!)

Your business model should be based on providing a product your customers are looking for not forcing your product on them – they should want to buy your product without you spamming them whether that’s because of a great price point, a desirable brand association or, best of all, you are the only provider of your product. These marketing strategies should really be used as gentle nudges to your customers and shouldn’t be used as your main source of sales.

 


 

As you head to the checkout another member of staff is already waiting with a smile. They remark on what a good choice your product is and if you’ve seen the matching Falangie. You hadn’t!

The typical shopping cart abandonment rate for online retailers varies between 60% and 80%, with an average of 67.91%. There are plenty of little things you can do to finalise the purchase from stripping back the checkout to make it easy as possible and less distracting to being mobile friendly.

Why not give a little ‘good choice’ or ‘nice!’ as well as the conventional ‘Your product has been added to your basket’ message to humanise your brand. You could also use this modal to promote products they may be interested in, like accessories for the product.

 


The typical shopping cart abandonment rate averages at 67.91%.
Click To Tweet


 


 

The assistant makes a remark about how they want to buy the Thingimagig but is waiting for next month too and asks if you found everything you were looking for.

Be understanding in your wording. If they’re not ready to buy, they’re not ready to buy. Again, by wording your site in a way that humanises the encounter and is generally less ‘salesy’ you are more likely to get loyal customers. If you suggest a related product and they say no why not respond with ‘We understand… money is tight! Do you want us to remind you about it next month?’ this way you relate to the customer as well as increasing the chance for return purchases.

 


 

They thank you for your custom and wish you a good day as they pop a coupon into your bag for next time

Be grateful. These people are putting food on your table and it’s always nice to feel appreciated. Make sure you say thanks on your confirmation email and use their name if you can. If you’re a small business you could go one step further and write a thank you note for them to open with their delivery or a cheaper alternative is to send a quick email. This isn’t a very scalable option but for those first few months starting out it can make the difference between customers for life or a one off purchase.

Also providing an incentive to shop there again can increase the chance of the customer returning especially if there is a time limit to redeem. People have an aversion to loss which is why incentives like ‘£3.00 has been credited into your account for you to use before the end of the month’ or ‘10% off your next order’ can really boost your sales especially if they’ve seen something they liked at this purchase and decided not to buy.

 


 

You walk out the store with your new purchase, excited to show your friends what you’ve bagged, with a smile on your face responding ‘and you’

Give them an outlet for any praise they may have. If you have given them a great customer experience or product, they may want to share that with their peers. Make them aware they can review the product on your website and that you’re on social media so they can shout about it where other will see. If your unboxing process is something enviable ask your customer to share it; There are now whole channels devoted to unboxing.

So there you have it, your start-to-finish guide on how to create an offline shopping experience online. It’s worth going through your websites customer journey and seeing where you can add a human touch to your automated processes, believe me your Dinglehopper customers will thank you for it.

by Jennifer McMillen on 24/02/2015

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