Storytelling and personalization online can boost ecommerce sales, Episerver says

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Storytelling, personalization online can boost ecommerce sales
Two-thirds of shoppers plan to buy products online more in 2017 than last year, but this uptick may not materialize for companies that fail to offer strong web content beyond a checkout cart, suggests a study recently released by digital marketing provider Episerver.

“Like a 21st​ century version of the mall, where shoppers often went to hang out first and purchase second, consumers are visiting websites with buying as a secondary concern,”​ according to the report Reimagining Commerce published Jan. 16. The report adds that “brands overly focused on transactional affairs too often miss out on other key engagement opportunities”​ and as such could miss out on potential sales.

This observation is based in part on the online survey’s finding that 92% of the 1,112 US consumers contacted late last October who shopped online in the prior year visited a brand’s website for the first time to do something other than make a purchase.

Rather than visiting a website with the intention to buy, 45% of shoppers did so to find a product or service, 26% were comparing prices or other variables between brands and 11% were looking for store details like hours, location and contact information, according to the survey.

Accuracy is a must

Failure to provide this information or to providing the wrong information can take a heavy toll on potential sales, the report adds, noting that 98% of shoppers have been dissuaded from completing a purchase because of incomplete or incorrect content.

“Insufficient content can prevent purchases even when shoppers intend to transact,”​ it adds, explaining, “Of the 97% of consumers who have not completed a transaction when visiting a brand’s website with the intent of purchasing, 21% say incomplete content prevented them from doing so.”

In addition, 14% say they did not purchase a product due to incorrect content and 34% cited a difficult check-out process, followed by 28% who pointed to a slow website. Finally, 4% said they aborted a purchase because the shopping experience was not personalized.

To address perceptions about incorrect or missing information, the report recommends brands use tutorials, videos and photos to clarify product information. It also recommends curating ratings and reviews to better depict the products and “leverage smart product recommendation tools that crunch user behavior, purchase data and the behavior of other users to make intelligent product recommendations that consumers appreciate.”

Personalize websites to increase impact

Failing to personalize content may be less important than website infrastructure and thorough, accurate web content, but Episerver believes it will become increasingly important in the future – making it a pressure point that brands need to address sooner rather than later.

“With so many brands, products and services to choose from, consumers are drawn to highly relevant digital experiences with information that is meaningful to their particular shopping needs,”​ the report notes.

For support, it notes that 59% of shoppers are interested in personalization as part of their online shopping experience and more than a quarter listing tailored content as one of their top three factors when evaluating an online shopping experience.

The most effective ways to personalize an online shopping experience, according to 37% of survey respondents are product recommendations and 33% said product and service information. As for personalized website content, the report says the top areas of interest are location-based coupons, images, advertising and videos. Personalized product specifications, reviews, images and sales information also made the list. 

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