By Brittany Schmigel, Content Strategist, Oracle
Today’s digital economy is driven by the need for convenience and instant gratification. Consumers want it and they want it now—and if your web site doesn’t meet their needs, they won’t hesitate to move onto the next one.
These expectations aren’t exclusive to specific products or industries, either—even the mattress industry has entered the digital revolution in order to satisfy online shoppers. In recent years, a few web-based mattress companies have worked to create an easy, stress-free way for consumers to purchase a high-quality mattress without ever stepping foot in a store. And they’ve had a lot of success, with some of the largest U.S. mattress chains following their lead by enhancing their own ecommerce offerings.
Small and medium businesses can take a page from this playbook by working to fully understand their audience, delight them, and create loyal brand advocates. Read on to learn how.
Understand Your Audience to Satisfy Their Needs for Convenience and Speed
Here are a few ways that successful web-based retailers have changed shopping from a brick-and-mortar experience into a digital one—and succeeded:
- Fully responsive ecommerce web sites provide the simple, pleasant digital shopping experience that consumers crave, thereby making it quick and painless to purchase items right from your phone.
- Too many choices only complicate the decision-making process for buyers. With this in mind, some web-based retailers have elected to simplify things by offering just a few core products, designed for universal appeal.
- A major selling point for some web-based retailers is ease of setting up the product once it arrives. In our mattress example, companies have designed high-quality foam mattresses that can be significantly compressed and shipped in a compact box—and once the box is opened, the mattress slowly unfolds and expands on its own.
Today’s consumers want convenience and instant gratification—and successful online retailers give their audience exactly that. After all, it doesn’t get any easier than buying an item from your couch, while watching TV.
Like the best web-based retailers, understanding your audience should be the foundation of your brand strategy—but truly knowing your customer base is much more than just referencing the original buyer persona you built during the infancy of your SMB (and haven’t touched since).
For starters, your buyer persona should be a thorough, detailed resource that you update often, since your business, your consumers, and the marketplace are constantly evolving.
Your buyer persona should consider all of the major elements of your customer base, like age, income level, buying concerns and more—as well as how these relate to or affect your brand strategy. Understanding who your customers are, from all angles, will allow your SMB to provide the best and most effective solutions for their needs.
So, let’s review a few of these key elements and how they may affect your brand strategy and your ecommerce approach:
- Age: A recent study found 41% of Millennials shop online at least once a week, but only 16% of Baby Boomers do the same. So, how do you satisfy older audiences, like Baby Boomers, who are less likely to purchase online?
If your products are available in stores, offer live product availability on your web site, so they know exactly which store has their product in stock. Additionally, you can offer in-store pickup to encourage customers to complete their transaction online and then pick up the item in-store.
- Buying Motivation: Are there any extra perks or incentives you can offer to entice customers to seal the deal? Many online retailers ship for free when a buyer spends more than a certain threshold; some provide free shipping for all items. This is an especially big selling point with heavier items like furniture, which can cost hundreds of dollars to ship.
In our mattress example, some companies realized that customers would still want to try the product before they buy it. With this in mind, they began offering a post-purchase, risk-free 100-night trial.
- Buying Concerns: What might be keeping your customers from completing a purchase? Consider what might make them hesitate from clicking the “buy” button. For example, buying a mattress also means customers have to get rid of their old mattresses—which isn’t so simple if you live in a fifth-floor, walk-up apartment in New York City.
Mattress companies began offering set up and removal services in many cities, which includes the unboxing and placement of the new mattress, and removal of your old mattress and box spring.
- Questions: It's important to provide multiple ways to communicate with your SMB. If a customer has a question or concern that is delaying their purchase, your business needs to be prepared to quickly and successfully assist them—otherwise, you’ve likely lost the sale. Most web-based companies understand the importance of providing immediate support, and so they offer the ability to chat, phone or text for assistance.
With the right ecommerce technology, like Oracle Commerce Cloud, you can create a digital experience that differentiates your SMB and drives revenue.