By Malcolm Stewart
The ecommerce landscape is vastly different today than 10 years ago. As technology and communications advance, ecommerce experiences need to keep up, and it can be a challenge to pinpoint exactly what steps will keep you ahead of the game.
With the new year almost upon us, now is a great time to identify some resolutions for propelling your ecommerce strategy. To do that, ecommerce leaders need to be people-driven, not just number-driven. On that note, we’ve come up with three ways to help you build ecommerce experiences that are centered on the customer, not the quantitative data.
1. Invest in Technology That Drives Real Customer Insights
Consider the prediction that CMOs will be spending more on IT than CIOs by 2017. Sadly, much of this investment is not efficient. Making smarter technological investments in data and research can mean wiser ecommerce strategies.
It oftentimes feels like there’s a new “big data” analytics tool on the market every month. Before you know it, ecommerce leaders are managing a half dozen different tools, and dashboard after dashboard, graph after graph. Ultimately, this data is telling you the same information, just from different points of where your customer happens to be.
We’re setting ourselves up to fail when we add more data, not better data.
The addition of qualitative research data is a smart investment when so much is on the line. Qualitative research can help you understand the “why” behind your KPIs, instead of just adding a dozen more KPIs to track.
2. Treat Customers as People, Not Data Points
That’s right: Stop treating customers as data points and start treating them as people. With the plethora of big data, it’s understandable that ecommerce leaders inadvertently start shaping images of a customer based on numbers rather than human feedback, but the habit is a dangerous one.
In order to really leverage big data, you must connect to the humans behind the numbers.
Today, quantitative data plus “instinct” drives a lot of our ecommerce campaigns. Because we have the ability to collect massive portions of quantitative data, however, qualitative data still falls by the wayside. Until today, large-scale qualitative research did not exist.
The hard truth is that quantitative data can plateau – a fact reflected in the very existence of “standard” conversion rates. So next year, avoid getting wrapped up in the numbers and missing out on real customer insight by using qualitative data as a complement to your other analytics tools..
3. Develop an eCommerce Experience That Creates a Story
In 2015, resolve to create an experience that actually lays out a story that engages your customers versus just trying to get them to click one button after another. This is about being a seamless part of the “cognitive funnel” – the cognition process that a target customer experiences when making purchasing decisions.
Founder of YouEye, Kyle Henderson, discusses this idea more in an interview that you can read here. He points out how qualitative research can help ecommerce brands be a part of this decision-making process.
Through qualitative research, ecommerce brands can discover meaningful offerings that align with the e-commerce cognitive funnel; one example Kyle gave highlighted that qualitative research was able to identify that the confirmation of free shipping very early in the shopping process “led to additional confidence and eagerness to purchase from a vendor that was no longer in question.”
A great e-commerce experience is going to build a story, help inspire confidence and establish trust. It’s about discovering the order in which information is presented to the customer. Big data oftentimes points ecommerce leaders to create a checklist of all the different things that they need to have on their website in order to be at “best practices.”
But the problem with big data is that it doesn’t tell you what order each item on that checklist needs to be in to create a story. And that’s what qualitative research can do.
Make Ecommerce More Human in 2015
Customers are the reason for ecommerce success. And today, we have access to the tools that connect our businesses directly to those customers’ insights. So get the most out of 2015 and the research technology you have at your fingertips. Your customer – and your bottom line – will thank you.