Online shoppers take longer than ever to make purchase decisions, according to ScanAlert research released in July. The research shows the average delay between customers’ first visit to a Web site and their first purchase has increased 80 percent since 2005, from 19 to 34 hours. These site visits yielded an average conversion rate of 2.07 percent. Based on over 480 tests by 470 business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) organizations, over 57 percent of shoppers take over one hour to make their purchase decision.
Since online purchasers tend to be goal-oriented, this behavior seems surprising. But it’s totally consistent with the high shopping cart abandonment rates online marketers have been noting for years. Many e-commerce sites have found their customers often use shopping carts as a convenient place to store items they’re considering purchasing.
What Does Delayed Purchasing Mean for Marketers?
From a marketing perspective, it’s important to ensure customers get the information they need to aid their purchase decision and they can complete their purchases with minimum hassle when they’re ready to buy. It’s also important to facilitate sharing information with others who are involved with or may influence the purchase decision.
Here are five steps to help customers choose to buy your offerings:
- A search box, so users can refine their research or locate another product
- Meaningful site navigation, either left hand or horizontal
- Related product to cross sell
- List of bestsellers to increase sales
- An FAQ for popular topics.
- A toll-free number for customer service.
- An e-mail contact that’s answered within a reasonable time. Manage customer expectations with an autoresponder.
- Live chat, if available.
- A physical address with a link to maps, where appropriate.
- A bookmark-this-site link or button so users can find it later.
- E-mail-a-friend functionality. Make sure e-mail includes relevant product information, a product picture if possible, a URL, an e-mail contact address with a link, and a toll-free number and retail address, where applicable. Remember, users may be sending this information to themselves as a reminder.
- Print-this-page button. Make sure the printed page has a URL that’s easy to type, along with your toll-free number, e-mail contact, and physical address. Customers may use this printout to order. For tracking, use a special e-mail address and toll-free number.
- IM and social bookmarking options.
- Give customers a “Buy Now!” button to purchase the merchandise directly.
- Have a “Save My Shopping Cart” option that doesn’t require lengthy registration. Test asking for just an e-mail address to allow you to send an e-mail reminder.
- Allow customers to create a wish list. People tend to use these lists for gift-type products, not everyday items.
- Include e-mail newsletter and RSS feed registration for future promotions.
- Use trust marks like “Hacker Safe” early in the process. According to Nigel Ravenhill, ScanAlert’s director of marketing communications, “The best placement to maximize conversion lift is in the upper corner of the left navigation column about two inches from the top, near the search box.
Measuring Delayed Shopping
Delayed shopping can affect your tracking, particularly on paid search marketing effectiveness and shopping cart abandonment. It can be difficult to track sales back to the initial engagement. To this end, it’s important to consider this goal when setting up customer contact points to collect information that aids your post sale analytics. Here are some suggestions:
When prospective shoppers visit your site looking for a product, they may not be ready to buy. You must facilitate their ability to find more information about the product they’re looking for (as well as related items), to share their research, to easily find your site again, and to quickly purchase the product when they’re finally ready.
When a visitor leaves your site, the clock is ticking. Your prospect may buy from your competitor if you didn’t make the extra effort to close the deal.
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