How to optimize your client’s time online ?

When you run a business online, you want your clients to place their orders quickly because we always assume that they are in a hurry. However, there are certain nuances that should be taken into consideration. When we open an online store, our goal is to sell as much as possible but rushing is not compatible with an increase in sales. Or is it ?

The big challenge

The fact is that the amount of time that clients spend shopping online should be a key parameter in eCommerce, since it provides valuable information. It is as simple as measuring the time that a client needs to make a purchase after they visit a website for the first time.

If the time spent is too short, it means that our client does not stay in the site for long enough to make a purchase decision. Being faced with this situation, we can make two types of decisions: either we try to reduce the time needed to make a purchase, or we get the client to stay longer in our site.

To choose either option (or both, since they are not mutually exclusive) depends on what we know about our client, on the type of products or services we offer, and on what we want the client to do. There are products and services that require a fast purchase process, because we know that for these products, the clients are in a hurry.

We cannot expect someone who is ordering food delivery or a taxi to spend much time making their decision. However, is it true that clients are in a hurry when they are looking to buy a TV set, for example?

Are eCommerce clients really in a hurry?

How do we act in a physical store? We usually do not expect to buy a TV set in five minutes. Instead, we will look at options that fit our budget, research the features of each option, and compare them. Furthermore, the employees that help us are fully trained and the store is designed for that aim.

However, when we are trying to sell TV sets online, we assume that the clients are in a hurry, which is counterintuitive. It is true that thanks to certain practices, like showrooming, the number of clients that know exactly what they want in eCommerce is higher than in a physical store. But these clients do not make up the majority.

So, in this scenario, thinking that clients are in a hurry can lead us to decisions that will damage revenue. However, the trending belief in web design and usability is that “the clients are in a hurry.”

And there is always a study to back up that affirmation, but the day-to-day reality shows us that this is not the case for every eCommerce site. My proposal is that those online stores than can afford it should test whether their clients prefer a slower process for online shopping.

It is about extrapolating the Ikea model to eCommerce. One of the keys to the success of the Swedish furniture giant is the structure of its stores. Ikea knows that clients are not in a hurry when they are purchasing furniture and household items. Therefore, they have designed a store that has to be walked in its entirety, maximizing the client’s exposure to their products. And it works wonders for them.

Are we approaching a slow eCommerce?

The idea of “slow” eCommerce may seem risky, but I think we should stop and think about our own behaviour as online shoppers. When you shop online, do you always know what you want? How often have you gone poking around and, after half an hour, you have ended up buying something?

This is especially important in the case of products that clients often buy on impulse, like clothes and accessories, sporting equipment, trips, home décor, etc. Going further, we can have a “fast track”using express checkout and designing shortcuts. This way we would respect the needs of clients in a hurry, while at the same time having a “slow way”.

The keys to manage the time spent on site

The key of slow eCommerce is establishing ways to jump from one product to another, and implementing the presence of a shop assistant. It is about asking questions to the client, so that we can later offer the products that best fit their needs.

In this sense, the Dell computer website is a good example of the right course. There are a lot of options: warning the client that they are in the “slow” version of our online shop, working on the category menu of our catalogue, or focusing on product recommendations to achieve cross-selling.

In any case, this is each business’ own decision, but we should properly analyse the data and make strategic decisions, instead of just believing straight-away that the clients are always in a hurry.


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