How to Engage Ecommerce Site Visitors and Help Them Bond with Your Products/Brand

What are the biggest challenges you face in running your eCommerce site? 

You'd be in good company if you said, “Well, driving more traffic, for one. Getting more users to keep coming back is another. Engaging them so they spend more time on the site and share what they found with their friends is a third. And, of course, in the end it is just encouraging them to go through with the checkout with bigger average carts.” 

In fact, all of these challenges are closely interrelated. A survey of 120,000 eCommerce stores revealed that their single largest source of traffic is from “dark social.” What that term means is that 40 percent of traffic on average comes from site visitors who are typing or pasting the store's URL directly in the browser. These searchers didn't get their information from search. They got the URL from friends and their larger social networks. Engagement impacts traffic, return visits, social sharing and cart abandonment rates. 

According to the latest statistics, compiled from dozens of studies, abandonment rates are averaging at 68.81 percent. In other words, nearly seven out of every ten of your online transactions are being lost. Recapturing a percentage of those would represent a highly effective way to improve your revenue quickly. The customer is already there, they want what you sell, you just have to keep them engaged through the completion of the transaction.

Cost as a Symptom

Engagement is the key. The number one reason people give for abandonment is hidden costs, but that's just a symptom. When customers are worried about cost, that's evidence that you haven't differentiated yourself in the market and given your customers an experience that they will remember.

In discussing what he named, “The Experience Economy,” international management advisor and Harvard Business Review author Joe Pine said, “It's time to move beyond goods and services to the next level of economic value and that is staging experiences for your customers. Experiences are basically when you use goods as props and services as the stage to engage each and every person and inherently personal way and thereby create a memory.”

Personalization for Greater Engagement

That may sound complicated and expensive, but it's actually much easier than you think. In a study by Deloitte, 36 percent of consumers say they want personalized products or services. For younger shoppers, age 16-24, that jumps up to 43 percent.
These customers are willing to pay a 20 percent premium to have a say in the final deliverable. It has to be carefully managed, though, because 42 percent say that they need to be given options and lead through the process step by step.

Use Case #1: The Fashion Bundler - Mix and Match

A good example of how to engage these customers in the real world is the Mix and Match Fashion Bundler interactive experience. Picture an eCommerce retailer that sells fashion items such as purses, shoes, jewelry and accessories. Customers don't wear these items in isolation, but as part of a full outfit. The customer wants to see how these items work in relationship to each other, so the Fashion Bundler lets customers mix and match to find the perfect ensemble. Price is no longer the primary concern. Abandonment rates fall and average cart sizes rise.

Use Case #2: The Handbag Configurator

Handbags are a very personal item.  And finding just the right one can be challenging if not downright impossible.  Kimberly Mitchell, founder of Bella Modi, set out to solve that problem. So now there’s no need to settle for “close-enough” on one of our most heavily used necessities.  She, in cooperation with Doogma, designed the customization solution you need to get exactly what you want in a handbag - the perfect blend of function and fashion!  This handbag customizer not only gives you the freedom to get the exact functionality you need from a handbag, but it also lets you experience being the designer. You get to select the style, size, exterior pockets, handles, closure, lining and divider along with just the right blend of colors to create a look that’s all your own.  Whether it’s a subtle nod to your business side or if it screams “look at me,” either way, you get all the design credit AND a bag that functions exactly like you want.

Custom Nation

Customization represents the future of eCommerce. It delivers the level engagement and customer experience that people expect from the favorite brands. Those are just a few of the conclusions based on the research from the book “Custom Nation: Why Customization Is the Future of Business and How to Profit From It.” Authors Anthony Flynn and Emily Flynn Vencat wrote, “For would be entrepreneurs, customization is the new gold rush. With customization, you don't have to have the funding of a Fortune 500 behind you to make it to seven-digit sales; all you need is a good idea and customization.”

That would sound like hyperbole if it weren't backed up by the evidence they cite from companies like Blue Nile, the diamond customizer now worth $550 million. The book details the critical components to successful customization efforts.

Next time you pull up your eCommerce site's metrics on engagement and cart abandonment, consider which strategies could move both at the same time. How will you give your customers the kind of experience that makes your site worth sharing with their friends? All signs indicate that customization is the way forward.

About the Author:

Dan Ostroff is the CEO and Founder of Doogma Inc. The Doogma Designer™ was designed to help online merchants create exciting and engaging new buying experiences for customers. Doogma has built thousands of product configurators, personalization and customization solutions for almost every kind of product.

Doogma has solutions for small and large companies alike. Whether you’re just starting out making items and selling them online, or are a large corporation with thousands of customizable products, the Doogma Designer™ can be scaled to meet your needs. and Doogma partner to offer best-in-class interactive eCommerce solutions. Contact or the team for more information.

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