Every year, business owners around the world spend billions of dollars trying to get new people to visit their website. For some website owners, any traffic is good traffic, but for retailers, the end goal is to get consumers to buy products from the website. A recent study shows why it's important to get customers to return to a site to make a purchase and how retailers can improve the customer experience so consumers come back to buy.

Despite what retailers would like to happen, a study from Episerver showed that most transactions don't happen during an initial visit to a website. According to their report, nine out of ten (92 percent) consumers visit a brand's website for the first time to do something other than make a purchase. Even when visiting a brand's website or mobile app with the intent of purchasing, a third (32 percent) of consumers rarely or never make a purchase.

This data shows that online shoppers are less likely to buy items on impulse than their in-store counterparts. This makes sense because it's easier to come back to a website than it is to travel back to a store. Also, the size of the global marketplace makes it worthwhile for shoppers to comparison shop to find the best price and features.

The exploratory nature of online shoppers is also seen in the data from Episerver. During their initial visit to a website, nearly half (45 percent) of shoppers are searching for a product/service, 26 percent are comparing prices or other variables between brands and 11 percent are looking for store details like hours, location and contact information.

A takeaway from this part of the report is that retailers need to look deeper when considering their website analytics or online ad campaign results. Getting 100 new visitors to a site is good, but if none of the people buy anything or never return to the site, then there is a problem.

The Episerver report also contains data that can help retailers create brand websites that give consumers what they want. For a start, given what was shown before, it would make sense that consumers want more product information so they can make an informed decisions. According to the Episerver data, 98 percent of shoppers have been dissuaded from completing a purchase because of incomplete or incorrect content, with just under a third (32 percent) of consumers being dissuaded every time they don't get all the information they need.

Another important takeaway from the study is that consumer expectations are changing to reflect elevated online shopping standards. The study reports that one in three (35 percent) shoppers believe brands do a poor or very poor job of customizing the online shopping experience. This is may be an industry-wide problem fewer than one in ten (7 percent) shoppers believe that brands do customization very well.

The Episerver data also provides insight on some specific things retailers can do to improve the customer experience for modern consumers. Shoppers are more interested in brands tailoring content for coupons based on location (44 percent) and images (31 percent) than emerging technologies like virtual reality (7 percent) and augmented reality (6 percent).

In the end, it's important to remember that initial visit may not result in a sale, but the experience customers influences whether or not they will come back to buy later. Having little or incomplete information almost guarantees that customer will find the product they want somewhere else. Also, it's important to update sites with personalization features that give consumers offers tailored to them. This kind of engagement increases the likelihood that a consumer will eventually buy from a certain retailer.

For more recent information that can help online marketers, read this article on an American Express study on consumer expectations.

Published on: Jan 8, 2018
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