Last December I wrote a post on shopping process. One of the main premises on that post was that e-commerce should be entertaining, it should somehow captivate the customers and drive them through the entire thing while making it an enjoyable experience:
Buying stuff should be fun. Or as close to fun as it can get. It must be a pleasurable experience. Once we understand that our abandonments will invariably go down.
So I click the link and head over to this newly-found reading material. What do I see? The very first post I set my eyes on is talking about e-commerce, and from a perspective that has several contact points with what my personal opinion is.
(...) during my round trip to and from the milk, I munch a free sample, and grab a box of fudgesicles, knowing that my kids’ enthusiasm will counteract my wife’s annoyance.
When we build e-commerce sites, certainly we need to know what the customer wants, and give it to them. But we also need to use our spiffiest analytical tools to optimize two things: profit (dollars, not percent) and Net Promoter Score.
So, what would happen if we combine this thoughts on making the Shopping process entertaining and tempting our customers with extra treats with that other thing that has become a buzzword lately: Targeted ads.
Forget about the “ads” part for the time being. Lets just concentrate just on the Targeted part instead.
Using smart analytics, a powerful CMS and some multivariate wizardry e-commerce sites have the potential to create a unique experience for each customer that arrives to the site.
E-commerce has three main advantages over Grocery stores: 1) you don’t have to physically move products from one side to another, shifting aisles and pushing fridges, 2) you can track every single visitor and see how they behave and 3) you know where the visitors come from and, to a certain extent, in some cases even why.
With that in mind it is quite natural to imagine scenarios where visitor segmentation serves the purpose to profile each visit and build the e-commerce experience accordingly.
Granted, the approach would require massive investment in both Analytics and CMS, but the payoff should be huge. If the analytics team can profile and breakup visitors into smartly differentiated groups (natural search visitors, ad visitors, affiliate program referrals, coupon page referrals, etc.), pass along that information to the publishing / developer / user experience people and they, in turn can create experience that present stuff in ways that maximize the buying potential of each segment you’d have a winning recipe.
Multivariate tests should help determine what works for each segment.
In-site behavior should also be tracked, studied and used to present the visitors with different options according to the path they take.
This can be taken to various levels of complexity, and an investment & experimentation to revenue ratio would be determined. In other words: how much to invest, experiment and segment to obtain the highest return.
Another ingredient comes from a suggestion Mark made in the comments of my December post:
Reading what people write about your site shopping experience can fill in the gaps in analytics. Sites like Bizrate gather customer comments, and of course, blogs and forums are another great place to learn about the barriers to purchase one may have unknowingly created.
So Social Media (monitoring) can also play an active role in enhancing conversion rates and customer spending on e-commerce websites.
The final piece would be a dashboard that "adjusts" the settings under special circumstances. It is not the same to have an e-commerce site during the seasons than in Mid September when nothing happens. Since such events can be planned, they should be planned.
Stir together, cook for 90 minutes and you’ll end up with a “Fluid e-commerce experience”.
We don’t all have the same tastes, why should our shopping experience be dull and unique for all the population? The tools exist, the expertise exists, and some sites already run similar experiments.
Finally I encourage you to go ahead to his site and subscribe to the feed. It looks like we have another very eclectic blog at hand.