At the Adobe Summit I attended an inspiring session by John Watton, who had wrapped his session on behavioral targeting around a story of Bob the local wine salesman. Bob is a retailer who is very acquainted with his customers, which enables him to offer them the best service. The story immediately spoke to me, because it is one of those local shops you just love to visit because you know you will end up leaving with great products recommended to you by someone who knows what you like.
The point John tried to make during this session, is that we all know in what way we would like retailers to offer us their products. But in the current digital era, we are far from putting this vision into action.
Back to John’s example of Bob, he compared a visit to Bob with a visit to any popular online winery. These websites offer their visitors different types of wine, red/white/sparkling, while most visitors are looking for something specific and do not want to be bothered by irrelevant offerings. Every irrelevant offer turns into a feeling of being misunderstood.
So how does one go about targeting this individual? Let me grab this example and explain the opportunities I see in optimizing the online customer experience here. First off, let’s identify two types of potential customers.
- Either the customer knows what he is looking for
- Or he doesn’t..
Both types are valuable but require a different approach. For instance the first type of customer will visit the website and most likely find the wine he is looking for by using standard navigation. Or possibly the search-box on the website (let me remind you retailers, onsite search = money). This type of customer might seem to require less attention because he is determined to find a specific wine. It’s an easy sale, but mind you he will leave your website when it’s taking him too long to find the product. His behavior on your website has two requirements: speed and ease.
On the other hand there’s the type of customer who simply has not yet decided which product he is going to buy. This customer might be throwing a diner party for some good friends and is searching for a wine that goes well with his main course. One of the first things the local retailer would find out is what is going to be on that menu. – So why wouldn’t you? Your digital platform should not withhold you from starting a conversation with your customer. The gap between the customer and the retailer is already larger on a digital platform, compared to an offline sale (you are 1-0 behind). Think of ways to identify the needs by digitally approaching your customer and asking him, in a simple and playful way, about occasions/menus/preferences. There are so many ways to personalizing this, giving you the ability to narrow the gap. This customer’s behavior has one specific requirement: service.
Finally, after you managed to gather all this data from the customer and point him to the right product, it might feel like a mission accomplished. You think you’re done? Fortunately that’s not the case, the fun has only started!
Up and Cross-sell
Think about Up/Cross-selling your products based on the customer’s interests. Did he search for a specific Sauvignon Blanc? Try to cross-sell one of your cheeses that suits the wine perfectly, or try to up-sell by offering a discount when he buys a full case. We’re now recommending products based on the customer’s product choice. Basic e-commerce, right? Being an online retailer, you should know that by now.
But the biggest win lies in taking the up/cross-sell strategy to the next level. Start combining the already available data of your customer and make recommendations based on his behavior.
- [Returning behavior] Was this his first visit? Was this his first purchase on my website? What did he buy last time and how did he rate that wine on my website? Make sure your website recognizes a returing visitor, and simply ask him how he liked his last purchase.
- [Referrer behavior] Something I personally like to analyse is: where did my customer come from? Was it that popular wine-comparison website? Because I have some bottles that were rated really well on that website and I’m sure it would fit his interest.
- [Undeceive behavior] Why is the customer periodically looking at a specific product? Why hasn’t he bought it yet? Is he waiting for an incentive?
- [Other types of behavior] ..
The near future..
The possibilities are endless and can be compared to the questions Bob the salesman would be asking you when you visit his local wine-shop from the example. He has been gathering as much data as he could to offer you the best service possible. Some companies who have already started to gather and structure all this data have done a great job so far. I would like to applaud them for taking the first step in the right direction. Unfortunately the near future of e-commerce requires a whole new level of innovation.
Now it is time to start putting your insights into practice and build new ways to become that digital retailer who proves to know his customers, one by one.