India’s traditional brick and mortar stores havelong relied on “relationship marketing” to ensure customer loyalty and incremental long-term engagement. Communicating directly with the customer has given them an upper handin probing their needs first hand and constantly tweaking their inventory to keep up with the demand for specific products. Retailers over time developed strong customer relationships wherein they could positively influence their purchasing decision and even turn around a bad experience.
Online retailers, on the other hand, battle it out on a very different playing field. According to our 2018 SAP Consumer Propensity Study, more than half of Indian online shoppers abandon their online carts sometimes or all the time. Why is this the case?
The first reason is the long waiting time. We Indians are notorious for being impatient, especially when we are buying something new. Instant gratification eludes the consumer due to longer than expected shipping duration. The logic here is simple, if I ampaying extra for shipping and waiting a long time for it, I might as well go to the store and purchase it today rather than wait for three to four days for the same purchase.
Another essential element of the shopping experience is the ability to bargain and negotiate. This is a game-changer asit gives us the control overhow much we wish to spend on a specific product. E-commerce does not provide the customers with the option to bargain and hence, instinctively we start a parallel search on other portals to compare prices. We are hyper-sensitive to price differences and that is another major factor which leads to cart abandonment.
Today, consumers are seeking more than just buying something on a website, they are price-savvy, well informed and expect brands to understand what they want. This is similar to what they’d expect when they step into their local store.
Online retailers must do more to entice shoppers to complete purchases once on the site. To close the deal better, online retailers can and should learn from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers:
- Contextual offers and recommendations matter: Delivering contextual and personalised content is key.Indian consumers find personalised recommendations useful, which the owner of a mom-and-pop store can easily offer to a customer from the neighbourhood that he has known for a long time. Online retailers do not have the luxury of knowing their customersindividually and should thus invest in analysing consumer data, such as shopping behaviours, buying history, social media posts,geo-location. This will enable them to not only create highly personalised, relevant messaging that is more attractive, but also choose the best communication channels and times to reach them.
- Go physical: To help with the selection process, our study found that 41% of Indian online shoppers want the ability to test or try out products physically before purchasing. We also know today’s consumers want to shop whenever they want, however they want, and frequently blend their shopping journeys across online and physical stores. This is why pure-play e-retailers should explore having physical storefronts, be it their own locations or sharing other retailers’ space, or even creating temporary pop-up stores during peak sales. However, if a physical presence is not possible for a retailer, another way is to help consumers visualise how the product will look like in their lives is by offering virtual or augmented reality features (our study shows 41% of Indian consumers want this).
- Supply chain and logistics deserve attention: In India, the high cart abandonment rate is primarily due to high shipping costs and longer than expected shipping durations which deters the customer from going ahead with the deal, an issue that physical stores do not have. E-tailersneed to be conscious of their supply chain and logistics decisions that impact availability and quick delivery.
While e-commerce websites offer a wide variety of products tochoose from, they need to go the extra-mile indelivering personalised outreach to ensure customer stickiness.Optimising the checkout process is crucial for e-commerce businesses to grow revenue and deliver a great online experience. This differentiating factor can significantly impact thepurchase decision.
By understanding key business levers, companies can identify feasible approaches to induce conversion, driverevenue and loyalty at low acquisition costs.
The article has been penned down by Krishnan Chatterjee, Chief Customer Officer and Head of Marketing, Indian Subcontinent, SAP