Ecommerce has a dark foreboding secret, and there are reasons people like to keep it that way. If the truth got out then a lot of work and effort, to say nothing of strategies and employment could easily be perceived for what they are, redundant, irrelevant and unnecessary, they would be terminated.
So what is this poisoned chalice, that we should all be worried about? Quite simply there is little or no loyalty in ecommerce anymore. We are not making such a sweeping statement without acknowleging that there are several grey areas, that we shall come to. So putting instant disagreement aside, let us look at an ordinary person on an ordinary day. They are not, like the beautiful image portrayed by the advertising, sophisticated, mature, highly-organised individuals, that have consciously made a decision to visit your site today to buy something. That’s not to say they won’t, but like muscle memory, their choice to do so can be a far more mundane reason such as they don’t know where else to go, yet. Many marketers practise hard to ensure this remains so.
People or let’s call them consumers, that can organise their lives proficiently are rare, but then we all know life has this habit of coming along and destroying the best laid plans in an instant anyway. Kids for example, as every parent on the planet knows all too well. But for all of us with or without them, there are millions of reasons consumers don’t do what you most desire them to do – which is come and spend their hard earned pennies with you, because something else comes up. Phone calls, friends, work, TV they must watch, shows they must see, places they have to be, even the weather etc the list is endless. All of which destroys your hopes and dreams, and sometimes aspirations too.
When did you ever hear someone say “I’m going shopping at…” and then name the store? They don’t! Most people either name a brand or an item that they intend to purchase, if they ever even discuss it. People also do it in their thoughts, “I’m need some new jeans”, or ” I’m going to Sarah’s do on Saturday night, I need a new top”. You hope at this point, that you are their go-to location for just such an item. But the reality is that most people actually have half a dozen potential sources, if not more, and you’re just one. But that’s not evident in your stats.
All you see is an AOV, and take it “that’s yer lot”. Actually commonly the consumer has entered their preferred brand into Google, and skipped you altogether. It just so happens if you’re SEO or Google Shopping etc is good enough, they see your name and go, “oh yea, I know them. they were OK”. Heaven forbid you actually believe their route to you wasn’t circuitous.
No matter the size of your enterprise, be it huge or tiny, consider yourself as if you are fishing on the river bank. The fish – potential consumers. Some retailers have huge trawlers with massive nets and others merely a hook, drop-line and sinker – just starting out. Regardless of where you are on that spectrum, before you are a myriad of consumers all swimming about. And either instinctively, or when they’re hungry, they will be attracted by your lure or bait and eventually take a nibble. But you always have to put them back in the water. If they feel like they enjoyed your offering you hope they’ll be back, either returning blindly or with blinkers, away from the millions of other hooks in the water offering every inducement known to mankind.
The case for pro-active marketing
As any email service provider will advocate, instead of waiting for customers to come to you, you can beat the rest by offering the products ahead of the competition. A huge benefit of doing this is the price point you can use. An email from you alone, offers opportunity to enjoy that human frailty of less scrutiny in checking price, the decision is often simply do I like it, need it, want it or not, without ever getting to the second phase, which is “I wonder if it’s cheaper somewhere else”. We are not advocating you do this blindly and continuously, lest it return to bite you.
Marketers tend to perceive that as consumers will see this as detrimental to future shopping, that once a consumer feels ripped-off, they won’t shop with that retailer again. But nevertheless they often do but it because despite this they do continue to shop with you, but you have planted the seeds of doubt as to whether they should shop around on price first. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is the preserve of just other-world sites, ordering from unscrupulous companies or Johny foreigner, as you’d be wrong. There are plenty of house-hold names out there that try it on ever so subtly now and again, we’ve all been a victim.
“My style”, “my brand” or “my quality” perceived as the cause of continued custom. Those facets maybe, but again part of the dark secret, the consumer suffers from that human trait of apathy, laziness and tiredness. They can’t be bothered to go and find it somewhere else. One of the causes of this is the fog of Google searches, and the volume of rubbish that gets in your way when you think you’ve entered something so simply into the search term only to find everyone and their dog suddenly want a piece of you, wholly unrelated to what you actually wanted in the first place. Remember your consumer’s distractions? Well, that’s another example.
The stats for email marketing offer all ecommerce retailers proof that it is without doubt the undisputed leader in go-to sales vehicles. Coming back to the fishing analogy, while you can look up and down the river bank and see all the lines in the water as far as the eye can see, who has got the better bait, better position, sophisticated techniques all in play, nothing is better than going directly to that fish lurking on it’s own and dangling your offer, without competition, right in front if it. So what then would be the worst things to come out of doing something seemingly so obviously successful?
What they want – not what you want to sell
So you have a beautiful, sleek, sophisticated “fishing net” ready to snare your catch as it passes, by which we include omnichannel opportunities, advertising, triggered response opportunities for email, marketing and promotional email offers and incentives, personalised content on your site for each viewer, or a fantastic distribution facility that can have the product on their doorstep in 24 hours.
The answer is predictive personalisation. This is the art of using every facet of data collected through your platform, including much not stored even by the most advanced platforms themselves, but rather by specialist plugins that retrieve the information for you, analysing it to identify what each individual unique consumer is most likely to buy next and when. Imagine knowing exactly what each person will buy next, and having a means to be able to present that item to them, before anyone or anything else in the world gets a look in. Abhorring segmentation, as the practice of shutting the wrong people in a room together always works, not.
Only you have the benefit of the knowledge of everything going off on your website. There is a pattern created by each individual consumer’s activity, each visit for example typically leaves 100 impressions per visit, Each suggest a strategy both rare and personal to that one person. Not forgetting what they don’t look at or fail to be attracted to at that instant is equally important to clear the way for things that are.
You, as opposed to any of your competitors, have the benefit of their buying history. The two elements combined, show a unique profile that a clever predictive analytics algorithm can use to rank every SKU on your site, in order of what products that person will buy, but for it being offered to them.
Now flip that on it’s head and consider it from the customer perspective. What will be the effect of showing them what they want, when they want it? No hullabaloo, no shouting, not waving your arms around in an attempt to attract their attention, no subversion of what they would otherwise have done. It amounts to the ultimate expression of customer appreciation. So if you are going to keep someone coming back, do you think it will it be because of a. the retailer that simply offered them a product because they bought it before, or b. the retailer who watches the every bit of shopping data to accurately anticipate their next choice? McKinsey stats illustrating it is twenty times the volume of sales proves that b. the latter is the only possible choice.
The fastest growing software, having the greatest effect on ecommerce business is predictive personalisation (PPS). SwiftERM, a Microsoft Partner company, is a Saas that delivers permanently unique and personal product selections for each individual consumer, direct to their inbox, to get there first. Because it is PPS software, it is 100% automatic, offering a previously unheard of degree of gross margin, as it eliminates all the overheads associated with employing staff for this part of your marketing. Made all the more enjoyable by it not being diluted by a myriad of mouths to feed.
Finally It is important if not critical to distinguish between segmenting or triggered or omnichannel ESP software that obfuscates this issue, implying segmentation and indeed anything but PPS is the same thing. Like the Cern Collider is to a yo-yo.