|Author||Ger van den Buijs|
E-commerce has gained a lot of market share, but most e-commerce companies make insufficient profits.
The first reason is the fierce price competition, due to lack of differentiation and increased transparency.
The second reason is the continuous rise in marketing costs. Customers are harder to reach due to the information-overload.
This book shows how you can turn this lack of customer attention into an opportunity and become more profitable.
You want to realize that today e-commerce is just commerce.
Digital has changed the world and our interactions. Both technology optimists and pessimists claim the world will never be the same, but history puts these claims in a different perspective. People will absorbe technology and use it when it adds value.So when e-commerce fails to be profitable while good retail companies do make profits, it makes sense to learn from these successfull retail companies.
Social media have created the problem of information-overload.They have, on the other hand, also empowered customers. Due to social media, the world has again become like a small medieval community.
In those small communities, customers and vendors were tightly connected. Customers expected transparency, immediacy and personal connection and bad suppliers were not tolerated.
Today’s customers want a similar relation, which creates an opportunity for skilled and service minded companies.
My interviews showed that successful retailers have open interactions with customers, to create atmosphere and guidance.
They work with each customer to find how this customer can enrich his life.In digital marketing, FaceBook (FB) is much promoted to interact with customers.However, FB maybe started as interaction platform, but most interactions of customers and companies are a kind of broadcast. The same holds for most other social media.
A second issue with FB is that the interaction gets disconnected the moment people move from Facebook to your site.
When all companies strive for reach, customers are bound to get more and more messages. This will only aggravate the overload problem.
So we need to start doing things differently.I propose to broadcast less and to interact more. By giving visitors your attention, you will enlarge the conversion from your marketing. The energy you insert into the relation determines the result.The focus of this book is how to get customers to interact with you.
The Vocification model is the main model of the book. It has three layers.
The top layer shows the need for personal connection.
The bottom layer describes the orientation process and selection process.
The middel layer describes that the transaction should have the sense of cooperation. This is important, because in order to make an advice more influencial, customers need to perceive the advisor as
Successfull retailers stand amidst their customers and advise them in a human to human interaction. Their main objective is to make a customer happy. Their main instrument is working from his request.
These retailers represent the customer towards the company, in order to get the customer the best deal. This is the opposite of sending customers messages you hope them to forward to their peers, in order to promote your company.
But you’re right to expect that happy customers will be eager to talk about their experience with other customers.
A good retailer earns his support by supplying a great experience.
Many customers start their process half heartedly. Activation is the first step, because only an activated customer will be open to your information, presuming that you have listened to his needs.
Information is important, but customers are mostly interested to learn how a product can enrich their lives. They are seeking inspiration and confirmation.
Last, but not least, obstacles must be cleared. Well worded values help a great deal to get obstacles accepted. When you have done well in the previous step, a price obstacle is taken much easier.
To activate customers, information is not good enough. Information is easily ignored by the brain. The brain however, can’t ignore questions. Whether you will actually get the answer is not important as long as the customer started working to get himself an answer.
Once activated, a customer wants value. You want to give value in the process, not in the product, because the process is uniquely yours. I suggest to use augmented interaction, which is Human to Human interaction enriched with computed information. Your objective should be to create an emotional connection and H2H interaction is the most powerful mechanism to create that.
Customer flow is like surfing
To be considered unique by your customers, you need to deliver unique additional value in the purchase process, which I call flow.
Flow is defined as the experience of success achieved by effort. You want to present ‘customer jobs’ that stimulate a customer to make progress in his shopping process.
The customer will want that the serie of ‘jobs’ move him in the right direction. Your vision and passion will be his guidance. The customer will stay ‘surfing’ as long as your ‘jobs’ are relevant, because “relevance creates time in your customer’s agenda”. (Jay Baer)
Open Kitchen e-commerce
Open interaction is an opportunity to show your craftsmanship. Craftmanship is more than just being professional. The craftsman shows his passion for the product, the customer and the future.
Openness is also a great means to create an engaging experience. Like a chef in an open kitchen restaurant. The performance of the team turns out to be a great value to customers. People that have to wait and see how well another customer is treated, will compliment you rather than complain.
One thing might be even more important. Research shows that openness brings out the best in your team.
Enterpreneurs have always been leaders in their community. E-commerce entrepreneurs are much less visible. In order to help customers to connect to you, you have to show identity.
Identity as a company, meaning what is the future you are pursuing for your customers.
But also the identity of your team is important, because they will be interacting with your customers. They will be the ones that customers will need to create an emotional connection to.
The conversion ratio of e-commerce is dramatically different from retail. Imagine a brick and mortar where only 2% of visitors actually buys something.
I propose to invest more energy and money in the current visitors (Bottom of Funnel) and less in the prospects (Top of Funnel). Energy you invest in creating happy customers will produce the best marketing you can get.
Attracting many visitors sounds attractive, but it will cause a negative effect. Having too many customers will withhold you from treating each customers the way they like to be treated.
You should treat connected customers differently. Personalization is helpful, because it allows you to present information that fits each customer best. I would like you to be able to do more.
Retailers create a small moment of fame and attention when a frequent customer enters. What would it take to do a similar thing online? In the book I list the things you should do to turn a webshop visit of your best customers into a digital party. A party needs a host, guests, conversation, nibbles, a start and end time, an invitation, a location, a farewell and a present. Open augmented interaction inside your shop will help you to actually create this.
|Rest of the world||Amazon.com|
|Local shop||Can be purchased at most local bookstores|
|Social media marketing||Security guru – Flickre|
|Facebook marketing is like bowling||Aaron Mentele – 123RF|
|Customer flow is like surfing||The Smoking Camera (modified) – Flickre|
|No guts, no glory||Clker (modified) – Pixabay|
|Entrepreneurs built society||Roman Fedin – 123RF|
|How to treat your best customers?||Sarah Janis – Flickre|
|ElasticComputeFarm – Pixabay|
|All other images||Ger van den Buijs|