Behind the mask

In the days of pre-pandemic Britain – which now seem like a life-time ago – it would always seem as if websites were playing catch-up with real bricks and mortar shops, when it came to understanding customers and gaining their loyalty. There was an assumption that businesses wouldn’t truly understand customers as well online. 

Nowadays, as lots of businesses have become contact free, it is harder to get to know customers in the real world. For many local businesses even if there is still time to speak with shoppers, it’s at a distance and sometimes through a mask. Most shop owners get used to working out how customers are feeling by the expression on their face when they walk in. If they are wearing a mask, it’s pretty much impossible to do that. 

Arguably, even as lockdown eases, people are not really shopping as they had been pre-Covid, as many feel anxious and are focused on getting in and out as quickly as possible, while adhering to social distancing. Again, this has made it hard to engage with customers and give them the service you would under normal circumstances.

During this time, many small shops have really come into their own though, some offering home deliveries for the first time and others turning into personal shoppers. If time in a small boutique, for example, is limited, then some shop owners have been offering video calls. In this way, they can safely talk through what a customer is looking for and either gather together a selection to show them more quickly when they can visit the shop or arrange for the chosen items to be delivered. 

While these type of personal shopper services have sprung up in response to the current Covid-19 situation, they are becoming popular and, in many cases, could well become the norm.

In the meantime, many shops which either didn’t have a website or only had a basic one, have launched online shops during this time or upgraded what they currently offer. Some businesses though decided not to do this, thinking that lockdown would only be temporary. However, although there have been queues outside some of the big chain stores as they’ve started to open up again, many people are being slow to return to their pre-Covid shopping habits, preferring to continue buying online if they can. 

Figures released at the end of April, saw online shopping rates growing 129% week on week in UK and Europe according to Astound Commerce. In its Covid-19 and the Consumer Report the firm discovered that, as shoppers shifted to online, their expectations of ecommerce experiences rapidly accelerated, with contactless services, convenience and increasingly ethical considerations becoming the principal factors driving purchasing decisions.

Online, businesses now have a much better chance of finding out about their customers than on the high street, so it’s important to make the most of that opportunity. It’s now possible to personalise the journey for your visitors by delivering them targeted content based on their browsing behaviour. And, in doing so, you’ll be opening up a new world of products and services which suit their needs.  

Each time a customer visits a website, you can create rules to determine the types of content they will see.  The more times a person visits your website and the more journeys they take within that space will help you to build a profile about that person and enable you to send them to particular pages.

There are two ways of profiling visitors, using implicit values, which relate to browsing behaviour and explicit values, which relate to visitor responses. Establishing implicit values will include looking at website analytics – which will reveal quite a lot about your visitors, such as what device they are viewing your website on, browsing patterns and time spent on different pages and where they are located. 

Establishing explicit values will be gained from looking at any feedback or enquiry forms customers might have filled-in. In this instance, you are dealing with hard facts. You’ll soon put off any potential customers by not appearing to understand their needs. 

These criteria can apply across any website. Perhaps you are a law firm dealing with both private client work and corporate customers. Somebody looking for advice on a divorce will be making a different journey around the website to a company director who is thinking about selling their business. Once you start to recognise that behaviour, you can tailor the journey. 

If you’d like to know more about how Lake Solutions can personalise and tailor your customer experience, then get in touch. 

Article Details

Ian Jepp
27 May 2020