How to turn ‘goods ghosters’ into steady shoppers

How to turn goods ghosters into steady shoppers

At some point, most of us have been guilty of filling up an online basket then abandoning it before checking out. In fact, 40% of Brits are self-confessed ‘goods ghosters’ and that is costing retailers £18 billion in lost sales every year.

When you consider that far fewer of us (25%) have abandoned a basket in a store over the past 12 months, is it possible that retailers need to up their game in the online space?

Changing technology is posing new challenges, but also creating new opportunities…

Thinking mobile-first

We now wield the power to do pretty much anything with our smartphones – whether it’s adopting a pet, paying for a 3-course meal in an instant or bidding for that must-have furniture.

According to comScore’s Mobile Hierarchy of Needs – a white paper published in April 2017 – 61% of time spent online in the UK is done using a mobile device. For comparison, China and the USA’s mobile share of total digital minutes is 71%, with Spain at 67% and Italy 64%.

So it should come as no surprise that m-commerce - how we buy things online using mobile devices - is growing rapidly, and is predicted to be worth £73 billion across the UK, France and Germany in 2018. The need to get that payment gateway in tip-top shape is growing by the day.

We do more than just buy online though our phones though. Close to a billion pounds worth of contactless transactions were made using a mobile device last year – a trend driven largely by a new generation of ‘always-on’ consumers.

In-store as much as online, consumers are more than keen to fill their boots. With mobile payments witnessing a 328% year-on-year increase, merchants are fast catching on to the ‘mobile-first’ approach, giving customers a more streamlined way to pay.

The appeal? Brits are expected to save a whopping 141 million hours by 2021 – that’s good news for consumers and merchants who have the right set-up.

Don’t dismiss the desktop

For more considered purchases such as high-ticket items, financial services and technology, there is still the desire from customers to take their time on a desktop computer or laptop.

Whether it’s the ease of typing, the larger screen, or simply the opportunity to undertake more thorough research, the demand for desktop shopping is equal to, if not above, mobile shopping in several sectors.

According to statcounter, desktop usage accounted for 51.56% of the market share in the UK in February 2018, with mobile market share at 37.47% and tablet trailing behind at 10.97%. Whilst the worldwide statistics favoured mobile (51.82% market share vs 44.12% for desktop), it’s clear to see that desktop is by no means a spent force.

In this respect, there is a clear need to “present-proof” a business before even contemplating the future. For example, companies avoid degrading the user experience by adopting responsive website designs that support tailored layouts for desktop, tablet and smartphone screen dimensions.

Big-hitters and SMEs alike are developing marketing strategies with both desktop and mobile customers in mind; will they land on a mobile-optimised web page if clicking a link in that latest marketing email? Can users fill out contact forms, or are certain sections concealed on smaller screens? Can customers make payments with a click of a button, no matter where they are?

Whilst adopting innovative and ground-breaking mobile-first strategies tailored towards on-boarding Gen Z, the continued reliance on desktop for many serves as a timely reminder for businesses to not forget the longer-term customers who made them a success in the first place.

Making it easy for consumers

Fundamental criteria for ensuring continued custom is that shoppers are actually able to make a purchase. Overzealous payment gateways that refuse valid transactions or portals that time out are examples of some of the bugbears faced by online consumers on a daily basis.

To that end, Barclaycard have developed Smartpay. Designed to meet the demands of both business owners and today’s connected shoppers, Smartpay is accessible online, face-to-face, in-app and through mobile. By allowing businesses to accept payments in a safe, secure and speedy way, it reduces the risk of basket abandonment whilst protecting customer data.

Singling out the next big thing

When it comes to predicting what will be the ‘next big thing’, the sky really is the limit. From biometrics and fingerprint scanners to augmented and virtual reality, there are significant technological advancements in the works that could benefit both online and bricks-and-mortar businesses.

Virtual reality headsets provide a great way to entice, engage and excite customers. Still in its infancy, virtual reality retains a novelty factor that can provide users with a next level shopping experience, but are the rewards worth the risk?

Singles Day – a Chinese shopping event aimed at singletons that bears more than a passing resemblance to Black Friday – presented a solid opportunity to test VR. In 2016, retailer Alibaba transported customers to a virtual Macy’s New York, allowing them to make purchases by a simple nod of their heads. How did they draw in willing participants? Gamification. Alibaba placed special red envelopes throughout its digital marketplace that were only visible to customers using VR technology. By virtue of utilising these interactive retail tools, Alibaba’s sales on Singles Day 2016 rose to US $17.8 billion, an increase of $3.5 billion year-on-year.

In a similar vein, furniture giant IKEA have created IKEA Place – an augmented reality app that strives to “make good design accessible to everybody” by allowing you to see items in situ in your own home to judge their size, style and compatibility with your needs. The huge potential to improve the furniture-buying experience through this futuristic execution is tangible, and there are thousands of use cases where such technology will enhance consumer lives by saving them time, effort and money.

Yet, when it comes to future-proofing there is a lot to be said for going back to basics. Investing in fingerprint scanners for tomorrow may prove to be a smart move, but a smarter one would be for retailers to ensure they are fully equipped for today with the right payment solutions for both their customers and their business.