I'm sure you have been a party to animated debates about nature vs. nurture in the context of psychology. But how about as it relates to customer behavior and marketing? Nature, as I understand it, is the behavior that occurs without coaching. Nurture equates to behaviors that are learned. As marketers, our work falls somewhere between these two--understanding natural shifts in consumer behavior and shaping behaviors to achieve our end goal: engaging and selling to consumers.
In today’s ever-changing marketplace, marketers are forced to make note of evolutions. For example, customers are shopping on their mobile devices, they are asking one another for product recommendations before buying, and they are looking for deals online in ways that were previously unheard of. The changes we see are the results of consumers adapting to the new tools and online environments available to them. According to a 2011 report from ITU World Telecommunication, 2.3 billion out of approximately 7 billion people on the planet have access to the Internet--what an evolution!
This natural progression can’t be stopped, and long gone are the days of one- or two-channel commerce. However, we are not at the mercy of nature alone. Instead, marketers and online retailers have the ability to employ tactics that balance natural evolution with nurture. Let me explain: We can observe the shifts happening and provide fresh solutions to the evolving consumer through creative solutions and ease of use to facilitate the behavior we’re ultimately looking for: conversion. As a commerce platform provider, we see our clients employing these nurturing tactics, allowing the customer to do what comes naturally: multichannel shopping. Our clients’ nurturing activities ensure that the end result--purchase--is achieved in this chaotic, evolving commerce environment.
We can point to three big adaptations that customers have made with advancements in technology, and what marketers should do about them:
1. Customers Shop On The Go And With One Click
According to research published by eMarketer earlier this year, 23 percent of customers prefer shopping via their mobile devices or tablets. Mobile technology is on the rise, and customers are naturally adapting and taking advantage of the opportunity to gain information and shop while on the go. One of our clients, Case-Mate, saw this evolution in action in the form of a spike in mobile traffic to its site, upward of 20 percent. As soon as it noticed this, Case-Mate made moves with our team to ensure that the experience via mobile was optimized in order to nurture this new shopping behavior and increase conversion rates. Since the launch of its new mobile site, Case-Mate has seen upward of 10 percent of its orders come from mobile. The Case-Mate team also noticed that shoppers were naturally drawn to one-click shopping through PayPal and Amazon Checkout. Once these items were implemented, it had only a 25 percent cart abandonment rate, compared to the industry average of 60-plus percent.
Bottom line: Make sure to accommodate your shoppers and make it “one click” to purchase.
2. Customers Want To Know What Others Think
In 2010, Nielsen reported that 40 percent of online shoppers indicated they would not buy any electronic item without consulting online reviews first. Today, it is shoppers’ natural predilection to read customer reviews online before purchasing products. Knowing that this is the natural behavior, our client, Tempur-Pedic, made sure to include many customer reviews for all of its mattresses and sleep system products when implementing its commerce platform. Tempur-Pedic knows that customer reviews are so important that it has segmented out the ratings according to overall comfort, sleep quality, value, and expectations met. It also provides customers with the opportunity to review using half stars to achieve more precise feedback. Why would an online retailer go to such lengths? Because it knows that customers are going to review its products online, whether it likes it or not, and shoppers won’t buy until they know what others think. Instead of fighting the change, Tepur-Pedic is proactively “nurturing” a natural consumer desire to have the opinions of like-minded shoppers in order to provide purchase with confidence.
Bottom line: Connectivity invites intersection, so embrace the dialogue with consumers.
3. Customers Want Deals Online, And They Want Them Quick
While bargain hunting certainly is not a new behavior, online shoppers are taking it to the next level. According to a 2011 study conducted by Delloite, 63 percent of online holiday shoppers cited “better prices” as their reason for shopping online versus in store. One savvy retail client, MovieMars, takes full advantage of this behavior and exemplifies “nurturing” to produce a desired behavior. As a provider of discount movies, music, and books, it is up against significant competition to gain the attention of its target audience. So harkening back to the premise of nature vs. nurture, MovieMars has created an environment where it leverages the innate desire of many consumers to find a deal with the learned behavior of applying promotional discounts. MovieMars proactively leverages promotional discounts to not only increase conversions to purchase, but to move stale inventory as well. If it has an excess of inventory on a specific item, a targeted promotion can quickly accelerate purchases on that item. MovieMars’ promotions are prominently featured within the main banner of its home page so that shoppers can find the sales, select items, and check out in a snap.
Bottom line: Harness customers’ habits to achieve your business goals.
The only constant is change. Marketers and retailers may not necessarily be able to control the shifts, but they can harness them to nurture a desired behavior. The businesses that win out will be staffed with people that understand the necessity of directing these evolved shoppers toward the end goal of conversion through new and innovative methods. So ask yourself, are you adapting to this new evolution?