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Increase online sales through customer education

How do we educate customers in a fully online shopping environment?

The global pandemic has left brick and mortar shops with little option: either close, or restrict and isolate customers. We’ve had to adapt to shopping experiences that bypass a trip to the store unless necessary, making the very experience more about survival than retail therapy.

It’s no surprise that online shopping has become a popular alternative, with e-commerce revenue surging by 70% worldwide between March and July.1 Coupled with that, expectations of the digital shopping experience are sky high, and 76% of consumers think delivery is the most important aspect for companies to get right.2 But how can we educate customers outside of the physical store?

In this post, we’ll look at how we can educate customers in a fully online shopping environment, and provide tips for brands and sales enablement specialists on what to do next.

So how do we educate customers in a fully online shopping environment?

First up, we need to address the role the physical store plays in the traditional buying journey. We identified 5 elements that make the in-store experience unique:

1. Browse and physically compare products - comparing the size and brightness of a new TV or feeling the weight of different laptops.
2. Touch, see, and use products - feeling the fabric of a new sofa or testing the suction on a vacuum cleaner.
3. The spontaneous purchase - that kitchen gadget you didn’t know you needed, or the extra pair of socks you grab in the check-out line.
4. Talking to an expert - asking for advice, color options, or their preference between two products you’re deciding on.
5. The immediate and personalized purchase - having your purchase wrapped beautifully at check-out.

Where is it going wrong online?

With the recent growth in dependence on e-commerce, many companies are missing the mark. Frustrated customers are quick to switch companies after just one poor online experience, and up to 39% will avoid that company for 2 years3. What’s more, today’s online shoppers are:

a. Open to new virtual experiences - 35% of customers would shop online more if they could virtually try on a product before buying it. 22% of people would be less likely to visit a store if AR was available on their website.4
b. Willing to self-educate - 67% of customers prefer self service over speaking to a company representative. And 91% of customers would use an online knowledge base if it were available.5

Brands have a real opportunity to shape the customer experience by providing innovative education options throughout the online shopping journey.

4 ways to use education throughout the online buying journey

Digital interaction with customers is now twice as important as traditional channels. We’ve identified key opportunities to educate customers in the new online shopping journey, allowing them to browse, discover, and feel that post-sale delight.

Animation demonstrating the unboxing of new Google Pixel Buds

1. Empower customers to self-educate by simulating the in-store product demo. You could host a live, interactive webinar to showcase a fully immersive unboxing with real-time Q&A, or pre-record the webinar to offer a controlled experience with a preview of the setup process and use case scenarios.

 

2. Recreate in-store online by providing a destination for shoppers to virtually browse the store, view product demos and videos, and easily access support guides. IKEA’s virtual store is laid out just like their physical store, allowing customers to browse showrooms and click on furniture for product details.

Video call between a frustrated customer and two helpful customer support agents

3. Personalize all customer service points by creating true advocates in call centers. Build or re-purpose in-store training initiatives to upskill contact center support agents and provide digital rewards and incentive schemes. When customers are served by knowledgeable support agents who have tested the products, they receive a tailored conversation based on their needs.

 

Printed instruction manual in the shape of a floppy disk

4. Delight customers post-sale - continue your customer’s new purchase glow in your product delivery. Delight them with an “alternative” instruction manual, fun suggestions on product use, a QR code, or an online support link.

Since March 2020, the surge in online shopping has put a spotlight on how we educate customers outside of the physical store. With today’s online shoppers more open to virtual experiences, and willing to self-educate, brands have a real opportunity to shape the experience by providing innovative education options throughout the online shopping journey.

Check out our whitepaper for more creative ideas on how to educate customers in an online shopping environment and get in touch with Quadmark to see how we can help you implement them.

1Common thread collective (2020) Coronavirus Ecommerce Opportunities, Data & Strategies: Online Shopping in the Age of COVID-19, August 2020 

2Convey (2018) Last Mile Delivery: What shoppers want and how to save retail 

3Forbes (2020) 40 Stats On Digital Transformation And Customer Experience 

4Gartner (2019), quoted in Codete ‘Top 8 E-Commerce Tech Trends’, September 1st 2020

5SuperOffice (2020), 37 CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE STATISTICS YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR 2020, August 28th, 2020

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