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Many companies, both B2C and B2B, are seeing success by blending their traditional sales with online offerings. This is especially obvious in the retail industry, as we see retailers that have traditionally been brick-and-mortar scrambling to find ways to compete and enhance their offerings to customers with an online presence.
And while maybe not as obvious, it also applies to many B2B companies. While the product may not be as easy to place on a website as retail merchandise, having that online presence can still be a valuable step in the buying process, which enhances the overall customer experience.
I was recently able to connect with Raj De Datta, the CEO and co-founder of Bloomreach and author of The Digital Seeker: A Guide for Digital Teams to Build Winning Experiences, who shared four obstacles that could be getting in the way of your e-commerce success. While it’s obvious how these apply to the retail world, please keep in mind that these are sound ideas for almost any type of business. As usual, I’ll share his ideas (in bold) with my comments to follow.
1. You’re making your customers work too hard: The Internet can be frustrating. As customers do their research, they can become overwhelmed with choices and options. Furthermore, they’re just one or two clicks away from seeing something on a competitor’s website. All of a sudden, customers can experience analysis paralysis. They wonder, “What’s best for me/us?” The old saying comes to mind: “The confused customer doesn’t buy.” Solution: Give customers enough information to make easier decisions. You can also link to a deeper dive should the customer want that level of detail.
2. You’re not taking the time to understand what it is they seek: If a customer came to you in person, versus on your site, instead of asking, in effect, “What do you want?” you may, instead, want to ask, “Why do you want it?” Da Datta says, “When you ask the ‘why’ question, you reveal the seeker.” The why is often overlooked. A seeker is a customer looking for a “higher order outcome.” As an example, I just made a reservation at a restaurant. It’s obvious I want to go there for dinner. That’s the what. The person on the phone asked if we were celebrating something. That’s the why. The answer to the why can help us better serve and sell our customers. Solution: Find ways to uncover and answer the customer’s why in the digital experience.
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3. Your digital team is too tech-heavy: My first interpretation of being too tech-heavy took me to the customer having a bad experience on a website. A site that is clunky and cumbersome makes it hard for customers to navigate their way around. Sometimes website designers underestimate the need for simplicity with their customers. De Datta’s take is that the digital experience goes beyond e-commerce, impacting virtually every part of the company. This is where many companies fall short. Solution: The chief digital officer should create reports from data at every major function of the digital journey, not just the customer-facing interactions. It’s important to understand how digital influences the supply chain, communications, warehousing and more.
4. You’re not designed for disaster: De Datta has several disasters on his list, but the one that impacts everyone has to do with reliability and performance. A slow site or one that crashes causes credibility issues. It’s frustrating and causes customers to leave. Solution: You can’t wait for your customers to tell you when there is a problem. Be proactive and continuously monitor your site.
If you really want to know what your customers want from your website or digital solutions, think about what you want when you are the customer. Do you want a simple, reliable online shopping option and easy-to-find information? Your customers do, too.