December 25, 2018
Economic wisdom would have us believe that consumers are rational actors, but marketers know that most buying decisions are fundamentally emotional. Lifestyle brands like Nike understand this well, and leverage technology to tell stories, build community, and sell not just products, but experiences.
If this trend tells us anything, it’s that customers respond to – and increasingly demand – commerce with a human face. No one likes calling a customer service hotline only to be dragged through a byzantine series of questions and steps recited by a “robot.” But the personal approach to online sales isn’t just about customer service: it can transform your sales from engagement to conversion and beyond.
When you add personal touches to your customer engagement, your customers feel they’re interacting with a real person who is listening and responding to their needs. In the impersonal world of online commerce, personal touches call back to a time when customers felt seen and taken care of by their local mom-and-pop.
The good news: there are tons of ways to add personal touches to your operation, and transform a faceless online presence into a personalized apparel experience. Check out our tips below.
It’s no surprise that millennials’ and younger shoppers’ buying choices are heavily influenced by social media. Consumers respect brands that not only show up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter but also use those platforms to inform and connect with customers in quality ways. Urban Outfitters’ blog and social media accounts – which cover music, art, and design as much as apparel – nonetheless contribute to the brand’s worldly, edgy identity, helping customers find and return to ideas they know and trust.
But it’s not enough just to build a presence. To create a seamless, personalized shopping experience, you’ll want to make sure those channels are connected. Customers want to be able to hop from an informative, well-curated Instagram post directly to a product page straight from their mobile phone. By allowing for multi-channel engagement and conversions, you’re meeting customers where they are and fostering respect and loyalty along the way.
This philosophy translates to content, as well. Make sure that no matter the platform, you’re linking to specific landing pages rather than a generic homepage. Any opportunity to make an intelligent choice that anticipates a customer’s needs is an opportunity to convince your audience that they’re interacting with living, breathing humans.
If the demise of stores like Sears can teach us anything, it’s that today’s consumers are more interested in quality over quantity and curation over choice. Tailoring your products to the specific needs and values of your customers sends the message that you understand them on an individual level.
We’d bet no loyal shopper ever complained about not finding the right work pants at Virago Fitness because that’s not what Virago’s most loyal customers need from the company. Determining and offering only what your audience wants turns one-size-fits-all retail into truly personalized apparel.
One of the best, and easiest, ways to personalize your online sales operations is in customer-oriented service. This sounds obvious – isn’t that what customer service is all about? But be careful not to overlook the more subtle opportunities to create more human interactions.
For example, smaller, more niche companies – especially in their early stages – can afford to get personal with their customer service correspondence. Addressing emails to customers by name is one way, but if you’ve got the time and bandwidth, you can even respond to customer inquiries personally. Companies like Frank & Oak have made an impression by actually including hand-written thank-you notes with all their deliveries.
Make sure to offer intelligent and anticipatory information about your service wherever possible. Something as simple as detailed washing instructions can go a long way, but smaller things – like tailoring your web content to promote next steps for buyers, such as tracking their order – can all turn faceless calls-to-action into genuine “gestures.”
Social media, artificial intelligence, and mobile shopping have intersected to create both a blessing and a curse for marketers today, with too many companies relying on clunky interfaces and bots to engage customers with human needs. By using social media to tell stories and foster community, creating seamless multi-channel engagement, and putting names and faces to customer service, you can make sure you’re leveraging only the positives to create a truly personalized e-commerce experience.