Knct Lab guides you through the psychology of E-commerce

The Second Punic War was a remarkable period for innovation in martial warfare. Fabius Maximus, a Roman general, inherited the consequences of the brutal excesses of his predecessors on the war field. Hannibal’s troops, his opponents, had become far too accustomed to the direct, aggressive attacks of the Roman army. Maximus had to think of other ways to catch them off guard and came up with the idea of doing absolutely nothing, a war of attrition, as it came to be known. After a few years, Hannibal’s troops ran out of resources and Maximus, finding himself in an advantageous position, attacked their base and single handedly saved the Roman Empire from utter destruction. A similar war wages on in the hearts of marketers, in the battlefield of E-Commerce and the stakes are pretty high. To make matters even more interesting, the solution to end the strife isn’t too far removed from the one Fabius Maximus adopted all those years ago.

A look at E-commerce now
In 2012, E-commerce sales topped $1 trillion for the first time in history. Among emerging economies, China’s e-commerce presence continues to blossom each passing year. With 384 million internet users, China’s online shopping sales rose to $36.6 billion in 2009 and one of the reasons behind the huge growth has been the improved trust level for shoppers. These numbers are telling for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is not hard to discern that E-commerce has been a complete game changer both socially and as an economic model. Secondly, when emerging economies place their trust in E-commerce it can be deduced that these customers feel safe shopping online. The burning question that these summaries leave us with is: What do marketers need to ensure besides the deliverability and quality of products? The answer lies in Maximus’ ancient strategy; all it takes is a mere change in perspective.

The basics of E-commerce psychology
The customer experience is cyclical, not a journey from one point to another and the way returns are handled makes a real difference to how customers feel about a brand. If the experience is positive, then trust is built between the consumer and the retailer, meaning the customer is more likely to stay loyal. To understand the psyche of a prospective customer, we need to start at the beginning of the cycle. The very ritual of sifting through various prospective products to buy, the entire buying process and the eventual delivered product all possess a very alluring quality that drivers consumers, a pure embodiment of the function of the Id(receiving the purchased good) , the Ego(picking out the best quality product) and the Super Ego (analyzing the best price). In such an environment, what marketers tend to neglect is the smaller details that make up the whole.

Looking at the bigger picture
Everyone leaves a site that takes too long to load. But did you know that after only three seconds, 57% of online consumers will abandon a site, and 80% of those consumers will never return? The way your site functions means everything, but it’s simply not enough to have a website that loads in good time either. For instance, 92.6% percent of people said that visuals are the top influential factor affecting a purchase decision, this paired with the fact that products are judged within 90 seconds leaves a very clear message- the aesthetics and functionality are essential in creating a trustworthy environment for your customers. Besides this, the various factors that can hamper a purchase are hidden charges imposed at checkout followed closely by having to register oneself before a purchase. Creating an environment where such processes are unobtrusive is a marketer’s key goal.

The big trap
Retailers often devote most of their time to the speed and accuracy of outbound delivery because of its obvious link to sales. However, the same kind of focus on the returns process is often found lacking. Too frequently, retailers and their logistics partners tend to side-step the issue of returns but what many don’t realize is that the more focus given to the returns experience, the more it reflects positively on sales. According to an analysis of 20.8 million shoppers, a strong return policy is the most important decision-making factor for online shoppers of clothing and apparel; even more important than price. The big trap that retailers fall into is that believe that simply having a returns process in place is enough. This is far too myopic. An efficient and effortless returns system can be a way of distinguishing your brand in a crowded and competitive market.

The change in perspective
What retailers need to do is adopt a reverse psychology mindset. By highlighting the strength of their returns process they risk opening the floodgates to more cross-border returns. But those that realize that this approach will actually boost sales, and are prepared for it, will reap the benefits. What buyers really want is convenience, a seamless experience, good customer care and a fast refund time. At the end of it all, the smart brands that adopt a savvy yet sincere outlook are the ones who come out victor in this war of attrition.

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