How Can Retailers Extend Guided Selling Offline to Online? / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Although guided selling is easier in person, there are practices to ensure online shopping maintains a level of personalization.

Consumers love it when you personalize their shopping experience.

In fact, 46 percent of shoppers will buy more from retailers who personalize the shopping experience than those who don’t. Retailers who own a brick-and-mortar store know how personalization adds a few notches higher in their marketing.

It is easier to guide shoppers when you see them in person. There’s the personal and human connection. You can let them know if they’ve chosen well and show them your appreciation immediately as opposed to online shopping.

Related Article: How to Create a Powerful User Experience on Your Ecommerce Site

Remember, 2015 is the year of the millennial customers (individuals ages 16-34). Even if this generation reads reviews first and discusses their experience via social media, store associates still happen to be one of their top influencers.

According to Forbes, these more than a hundred million millennials share several traits and one of those is their preference for “experiential” retail environment. To them, shopping is more than just a transaction. There should be pleasure in the store more than just the goods that they take home.

One survey revealed that 52 percent of millennials were more likely to make impulse purchases than any other generation. They have this mantra “buy now, deal with it later.” This generation also likes living in the moment and making last minute decisions. You can help these tech-savvy and connected consumers when it comes to decision-making through guided selling.

Guided selling is one way to personalize the in-store shopping experience. Your customers will be very pleased if they were guided and supported as they move along. Still, you have to respect their personal space as you guide them. In his book Customers are People: The Human Touch, John McKean said Wal-Mart is the best example of a retailer that establishes respect to personal space through the “ten-foot rule.”

The rule, created by the store’s founder Sam Walton, says that if the sales associate comes within 10 feet of a customer, he will look him in the eye, smile and ask if the customer needs help.

Now, what if you own an online shop where there’s no physical and emotional connection with your customers? Because your customers embrace and align themselves with technology, we’ll focus on how to guide them when they shop online.

Here are some strategies on how to guide your shoppers:

Don’t Force Customers to Register or Sign-In

One of the biggest pet peeves of many shoppers is the need to register or sign in first before shopping. In fact, Kissmetrics revealed that this is the leading reason why shoppers don’t make it past the first step of checkout.

They hate it when they’re asked to retype credit card numbers or email and even provide an alternate email address. As a retailer, you can offer multiple ways to save their time registering. One option is to allow auto-enroll with permission.

Indicate the Check-Out Process

Nirav Sheth, the founder of Awesome Checkout, suggested the use of progress bars. This would help customers know how many steps it will take to get to the finish line. Retailers can make a progress bar by taking the unused space on the page.

Progress bars also allow shoppers a chance to go back and edit in case there are mistakes. 

Related Article: The Minimalist Guide to Evolving E-Commerce Checkout

Match the Checkout With the Site's Look and Feel

Sheth added that changes in background color, font type or even a new “next’ button can throw off the shopper’s experience. Put the emphasis on the checkout process, not the font or background.

Speed Up Your Site

Website performance is something that every online retailer should consider. Chances are, shoppers would rather go to the store and purchase the product when the site is too slow.

Clearly Indicate Costs and Provide Delivery Options

There are times when customers leave the site when they can’t find delivery details until too late in the process. Customers will appreciate if they can compare or access the site’s delivery costs even before they go to checkout.

Don’t Ask Customers to Fill in the Billing Information First

Even some of the well-known brands like Best Buy and Amiclubwear make this mistake of putting billing before anything else. If you want to focus on customer experience, consider their priorities first like shipping information and method. Some examples of retailers doing it are Threadless and Warby Parker.

The best practices, whether it’s online or offline, still lies on giving the best customer experience. You can achieve that by making the checkout simple.

Jonathan Lovatt-Young, head of service and experience design at Tribal WorldWide London, said most customers expect a certain level of service whether it’s online or in-store.

For example, when something’s gone wrong, online retailers should set out how a complaint will be dealt with. To many consumers, the best experience has a human element. It would be a much nicer experience if the checkouts were instructional and required less input.


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