As consumers, we all know the drive to find, buy, and get our desired products. And we naturally give our business to companies we trust.
Pivotree views this process as the frictionless commerce customer journey. This article series dives into each essential phase: Trust, Find, Buy, and Get.
Didn’t read the first two articles? You can find them below:
8 Ways to Build Trust in the Customer Journey
10 Tips to Help Customers Find Your Products in Any Channel
Up next is the moment every business anticipates: the “Buy” cycle.
Why & How Customers Buy
The “Buy” phase might seem straightforward — until you peel the onion and find all the layers leading up to a purchase. For example, a shopper may decide to buy from your business because:
- You have the product they want.
- You offer the right price.
- Your shipping is fast, free, or both.
- You make the process fun, personal, and convenient.
To get these areas right, you’ll need to build a frictionless “Buy” experience. Let’s look at nine ways to convert browsers into buyers (and keep them coming back).
#1: Create a Cart that Follows Your Customer
Before we go any further, a fair warning: you’ll see the term omnichannel in this article more than once. However, this isn’t your mother’s omnichannel experience. In frictionless commerce, the “Buy” phase shifts omnichannel into something modern, even futuristic at times.
An omnichannel cart is an example of this shift. It’s natural for buyers to start and stop a purchase several times on different channels. But if their journey gets stuck or stagnant inside a single channel, you risk losing the sale.
Instead, provide a stateless cart that follows your customer, so they can start and finish their transactions in their channels of preference — even if that’s standing in your store, looking at a mobile app, and using live support to complete their purchase.
#2: Provide Options for Out of Stocks & Shipping
Low inventory causes significant customer frustration and takes a chunk out of retail revenue. Paul Boyle, CEO of Retail Insight, recently said:
“We estimate that retailers lose 8% of revenue through poor inventory availability, which when combined with intensified competition and spiraling supplier and manufacturing costs, is revenue retailers simply cannot afford to leave on the table.”
While the issue impacts digital channels, it seems to cause the most friction in the physical store. When a customer encounters an out-of-stock in the aisle, they want to know their options. For example:
- Is the item available for shipping?
- Can they pick it up at another store nearby?
- Is there a similar product in the store that could meet their needs?
To support this journey, consider how you can deliver endless aisle, improved inventory visibility, and options for omnichannel shipping.
The ability to view product availability—and choose from Buy Online/Pick-up Instore, Ship-to-Store, Ship-from-Store, etc.—helps your customers buy with confidence in any channel.
#3: Enable Purchasing via Internet of Things (IoT)
There’s a shift from people making purchases to “things” initiating purchases. For example, a refrigerator may have a sensor that detects when the water filter is ready for replacement. If it’s connected to an online store, it can automatically initiate the order and complete the transaction based on preset payment and shipping details.
In our last article, we also shared how purchasing via voice command is gaining steam. Just like ordering with a quick command, automated ordering via IoT provides convenience and time savings to facilitate a smooth “Buy” experience.
#4: Boost Revenue with Auto-Replenishment
Consumers love the discounts and ease of automatic replenishment orders. Instead of a customer filling their cart each time they want to order, they know that the items will show up like magic at their doorstep. To keep auto-shipments flowing, you’ll need to know which items should be shipped, the order frequency, and how the customer prefers to pay for and receive their items.
There’s an added benefit of auto-ship customers — they spend more overall. One retailer reported that their typical auto-ship customer spends an additional $350 a year beyond their scheduled orders. Why? Because the process creates trust and familiarity that brings customers back for more.
#5: Make Recommendations from the Cart
We discussed product recommendations in the previous article on the “Find” phase. However, it appears again because of the opportunity to cross-sell and upsell based on the contents of the cart.
Seeing what your customer has moved into their cart tells you a lot about their buying criteria. Based on what they’ve chosen, past behavior and preferences, shipping thresholds, etc., you can make highly personalized “in the moment” recommendations to increase overall order value.
#6: Allow the Customer to Configure Their Product
The ability to customize products based on specific specs—and vary the price accordingly—makes ordering convenient and personalized for both B2C and B2B customers.
B2B buyers like the option to “configure-price-quote” to build out a large order, view a quote, and pause before completing the purchase when they’re ready.
Consumers like configuring products—like laptops or furniture pieces—to match their preferences. The pricing, options, and availability may change depending on their selections. In the end, they have an item tailored to their exact needs, making them more likely to complete their purchase.
#7: Boost Profits with Dynamic Pricing
Dynamic pricing helps you contextualize the price based on the actual customer purchasing. For example, a price might change based on a contractual agreement, past buying history, or order thresholds.
Dynamic pricing is important to the “Buy” experience because it ensures that your customer receives the right price. It also helps you boost your profits by optimizing the price (and your margins) based on the customer, location, product type, and other factors.
#8: Offer Strategic Promotions
Promotions should incentivize customers to buy, but only when it makes sense for your business. In other words, you don’t want to give money away for items your customer already plans to purchase.
To increase conversion rates, your promotions should consider who the customer is, where they are in the buying cycle, and what type of promotion will increase order size, frequency, or value. When managed correctly, promotions can push your customer past the consideration phase into the buying cycle.
#9: Always Prioritize Security and Trust
Finally, behind every “Buy” tactic is an essential layer of security and trust. If something goes wrong at any step, it creates friction that could prevent your customer from completing their purchase.
- Do you have the guardrails in place to protect your customer’s data?
- Are you providing secure financial transactions?
- Can you keep bugs and glitches out of the online experience?
All these elements (and more) help maintain customer trust at each stage of the buying cycle.
What are the Essentials for a Frictionless “Buy” Experience?
We’ve covered a myriad of ways to improve the “Buy” experience. But how do you actually enable each tactic or strategy? Each area involves three essential elements:
- Commerce capabilities to facilitate the transaction,
- Data management that supports the necessary product and customer data, and
- Supply chain visibility to inform on product availability and reserve the inventory.
Take auto-replenishment, for example. Data, commerce, and supply chain work together to enable a frictionless experience.
With automated orders, it’s important to know what a replenishment cycle looks like for each product or customer. A bottle of vitamins provides a 30-day dose, but how long does a tube of toothpaste really last? You need well-managed data in the back end to power the product information and make the right replenishment recommendations.
From there, you’ll need the proper commerce tooling and capabilities to keep the transactions flowing, plus the supply chain information you need to fill and ship each order.
How Can You Juggle It All?
Clearly, a lot goes into a frictionless “Buy” experience. It can be complicated to figure out what technology your business truly needs. Integrations are another issue — getting all the pieces to fit together in a way that doesn’t add to your technical debt.
Thankfully, Pivotree is a partner that covers it all.
Our approach is unique. We look holistically at how data, supply chain, and commerce technology—coupled with digital solutions—create a frictionless experience for your customers.
When data, supply chain, and commerce technology are seamlessly integrated, buyers experience the widest selection of products, available wherever they want to shop.
Want the Consumer Perspective?
We surveyed 3,800 consumers to get their perspective on a frictionless commerce experience. Get a snapshot of our findings, conducted by Environics Research.
To learn more about Pivotree’s vision and approach, visit our frictionless commerce resource page. Plus, stay tuned as we discuss the last phase of the customer journey: Get.