No personalised customer advice is the biggest barrier to online shopping

Although eCommerce continues to grow and there are countless online shopping opportunities, in the UK, 57% shoppers still prefer brick-and-mortar stores in favour of online stores (Ipsos, 2016). In physical stores, consumers receive personalised customer advice from professional vendors while online they usually have to find the answer to their questions on their own. It’s not only specific to the UK, as 57% of French and German shoppers also prefer to buy in stores. In this article, you will learn why consumers still prefer to buy offline and how to address this problem if you have an eCommerce website.

eCommerce stores need to offer real personalised customer advice

Online shoppers don’t receive as much help as customers who actually go to brick-and-mortar stores. And if the product they are looking for isn’t familiar to them, consumers will still buy it in person. This way, they won’t need to return it if the product doesn’t live up to their expectations. In stores, consumers also get offered personalised customer advice from professionals.

How can eCommerce websites compete with physical stores? The real problem eCommerce stores have is that they don’t provide online shoppers with enough support. A study conducted by the retail strategy firm WD Partners in 2013 highlighted that for 75% consumers, the experience of human connection was the reason why they bought in-store. But going to a store involves giving up free time, money and effort. Consumers could definitely save precious time and money if they bought online. But they need to receive personalised customer advice from your support team. Actually, shoppers are willing to test online support as 33% of UK shoppers are interested in using chat support when they are buying online (Ipsos 2016). Germans consumers are willing to try new channels: 26% of German shoppers, more specifically 29% of German millennials, would like to be supported via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

Messaging creates new possibilities for online support

Online support can easily compete with offline support, with the right tools. It should take advantage of its digital attributes to attract online shoppers:

  • Physical and online stores can be combined to offer an excellent customer journey: click and collect and customer reviews are two trends that can help combine both offline and online stores. If they don’t want to return items, shoppers can reserve an item online and try it in store before buying. They can also look at online customer reviews before going to the store to see if it’s worth their time.

“E-commerce is moving in the direction of physical retail presence, since brick-and-mortar stores are still at the heart of the brand and the omnichannel experience,” Stuart Wood, president of Ipsos Path to Purchase.

  • Conversational commerce can help eCommerce websites be ubiquitous: brands now have to be everywhere, all the time, to support their customers. With conversational commerce platforms, they can respond to their customers on multiple channels: social networks, their website, messaging apps, etc.
  • Savvy enthusiasts from your brand community can also help your eCommerce store. Recently, iAdvize launched ibbü, your on-demand pool of experts paid to enhance customer experience and boost online sales. With ibbü, your brand can offer customer service  24/7. Which means that online customer service is even more available than offline customer service. This is excellent for peak traffic periods like seasonal sales because online customers can ask a savvy enthusiast for advice directly and without waiting at any time of the day (even during the weekend). It’s also a good way to show your brand community that you trust them by giving them the chance to share their experience with other online shoppers.

Premium customer experience is critical for eCommerce websites

Customers are constantly expecting more from brands. As technology improves, customers are more demanding. If they don’t get what they want they’ll contact competitors or shop in-store. To differentiate your brand from others, offer a premium customer experience at all times across different touch points.


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