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In its second webinar on 'Increase E-commerce Sales with Humans and Technology', SquadIQ hosted, Dharmarajan K, Chief Business Officer - Beauty at Tata CLiQ, to convey his 18+ years of learning experience in sales and customer experience.
Here are some key takeaways from the session:
- Understand the 3 customer journeys: Pre-buying, buying, and post-buying journey
- Go deep and learn about the buying and post-buying journey.
- Learn about the problems teams face in buying and post-buying phases.
- Where can human intervention boost sales funnels in the three stages, how to solve them, and how tech makes the solution easier.
E-commerce is a booming industry in India, and its processes are moving away from traditional customer service. Traditionally, we have seen e-commerce sales as a tech and product-driven funnel where users come into the digital space to purchase, and companies engage with them digitally.
Various e-commerce organizations have now seen how adding a human element to different parts of your funnel can increase conversions exponentially.
But why is that the case?
India is still new to e-commerce; the industry is growing and consumers need better assistance - hence there are various places where they need hand-holding. This is where the human touch in customer experience comes into play.
Customer experience is Dharmaranjan’s expertise. He discussed the importance of the three journeys at length. He believes that learning about customer experience and how to leverage the three journeys only comes from experiments, trials, going into the playing field, and testing new strategies.
He started by giving us an introduction to the pre-buying and buying stages.
Customer Onboarding Processes
The pre-buying journey heavily relies upon the efficiency of reaching out to the right audience, with the right products, and through the right communication channel. This defines the experience of your target consumer, which eventually helps you scale up and experiment with different strategies.
Today, everything is API-driven - you have catalogs, real-time visibility, etc. Through this, you can define your target consumer and their target product.
Aim to give your consumer a universal experience. Figure out what channels work best for them and spend a lot of time focusing on what message you want to convey to your consumer as a brand.
The first thing Dharmaranjan focused on was the integrity of the consumer.
“Customers are not rats, don’t treat them as a part of the funnel.”
Mechanics can’t solve everything. You need human touch even in your daily business to make the processes more driven.
He takes the example of the home page and explains the mechanics behind the buying process. Earlier, everything was manual merchandising; now, it's all personalized and system-driven.
Specific catalogs you see on a home page depend upon various factors such as - season, location, demography, popularity, etc. The content around it is also made to match each factor precisely.
Even just for the home page, buying should comprise a team where there are folks from different catalogs and site merchandising. This team needs to go through each piece of content and design to check for errors, links, availability, brand messaging, etc.
According to Dharmaranjan it is essential to interact with your consumers patiently. Serve the brand and brand-loving consumers by giving them time to browse through different catalogs.
He also believes in frequent 1-1 feedback loops to make consumers' buying experience even more breezy. Tata Cliq frequently reaches out to their few trusted consumers for valuable feedback.
Dharmaranjan says, “These consumers understand the brand and their stories - [But this] happens over a period of time and is very lucrative to invest in lower and mid-funnel.”
The last piece in buying that he spoke about is - product descriptions. They are essential and can make or break a sale, especially in an industry like beauty. Dharmaranjan shares the example of buying an iPhone vs. buying a t-shirt. The product descriptions and the target audience for both are very different. Content depends on the category, and writers need to go deep into the product to define it.
Focusing on Buying and Post-Buying Journey
Buying journey challenges & best practices
The buying journey is full of challenges like:
- Abandoned carts
- Figuring out consumer experience, etc.
Dharmaranjan says there are multiple reasons why abandoned carts or drop-offs happen. The important part is to figure out these reasons by chalking out hypotheses from the top. When drop-offs and abandoned carts have happened, work has always been done on improving efficiency, product content, and UX.
Going deeper into product descriptions and building into sub-categories is done because of the work put into abandoned cart calling and drop-off calling. Frequent feedback calls with your consumers can greatly improve your abandoned cart and/or drop-off rates.
Say you have X abandoned carts, you simply sort this list, put them in descending order, and start reaching out to these consumers for feedback.
Consumers want to be heard and enjoy an excellent buying experience. You need to combine these two approaches with your focus which is conversion. Enhancing the efficiency of your outbound calling also helps drastically. E.g., real-time outbound calling is where an abandoned cart is an automated trigger for outbound calls. This is an example of making calls more efficient, real-time, and improving the consumer experience.
Dharmaranjan shares two counterintuitive challenges in the buying journey:
- High value of purchase and complexity of the product
- Size of the product
When a product is a highly valued complex product, you will have to focus more on describing it and giving extra content for consumer satisfaction. The size of a product is also essential. For example, buying a water purifier is more tedious than buying a tennis ball. This highlights the need to define the complexity and work around content to avoid abandoned carts.
Dharmaranjan finished this section by saying, “The repeat rate of a consumer with a perfect order is 2x”. This means UX and user communication need to be a part of the buying journey. Give users a perfect journey and consumer experience, and make them your repeat customers.
Post-buying journey challenges & best practice
From order confirmation until the time it gets delivered, the different means and methods through which consumers can self-serve are essential.
Dharmaranjan gives the example of a fault in the consumer journey, for example, address matching, verification, health restrictions, etc. your communication with the consumer becomes very essential. All this comes in the post-buying journey.
You need to give authority to the front-end team to make decisions and tackle problems. This means keeping your customer service teams informed about push-back possibilities and using the right channels to communicate with the consumers.
Working with repeat consumers also has a post-buying journey involved. To do this, you need to have maturity in your operation. For example, if someone has bought a face wash, you can predict how long their product will last. Your communication with the consumer should ensure that they keep buying from you.
But before going in too deep, you need a feedback loop to understand if the consumer liked the product in the first place..
This is a mix between humans and technology - humans to understand if the consumer liked the product in the first place, and technology to send out incentives to the consumer at the right time for its purchase.
This call back to the consumer, at a particular time, based on the product category, will tell you how it is working.
Building a Team
According to Dharmaranjan, there are no shortcuts in building a team of loyal employees and consumers. It takes a lot of time and even more effort.
The first step is identifying your metrics and defining what success means to you. Do not jump into executions without planning correctly.
For example, t is always tempting to give discounts to daily consumers. This will provide you with a quick sale but will hamper your business in the long run. You might end up losing a lot of consumer referrals.
This requires learning and analyzing data for a minimum of 6 months. When you look at this information, it will tell you the stickiness of a consumer, i.e., how often they visit, their repeat rate, time spent on site, etc.
When it comes to recruitment, avoid mass hiring. Spend time on training, especially soft skills. This has an immediate impact and delivers exponential results.
Endnotes by Dharmaranjan
Don’t talk about conversion at all. Conversion rate is an outcome that happens if you have great input. Focus on metrics such as:
- Product views
- Stickiness ratio = DAU/MAU
- Cart add rate
How to excite a consumer to buy a product online?
This depends from category to category. Today with technology and creative content, you can do almost anything.
Offline products are often biased towards a particular brand. The challenge is to remove this bias for online brands/retail.
Culture needs to be top-down; organizations need to be obsessed with it. At Tata Cliq, they have an RCA culture - it’s okay to make a mistake but foolish to repeat it. Once you demonstrate the importance, then people will follow as well.
The webinar ended with a 10 minute Q&A session with Dharmaranjan K., where he answered all questions and gave advice from his expertise.
Want to read more about our previous webinar with Anand Biswas, SME-director Delhivery? You can quickly check it out here.