In this Q&A article, Digital Commerce 360 catches up with Brian Greenspan, chief operating officer at modern décor retailer Inmod.com to learn his tips for how retailers can improve the shopping experience. They include detailed product information, extensive training for customer service associates and digging into analytics.
Digital Commerce 360: What are the one to three top things you think retailers need to focus on now when it comes to the customer experience?
Greenspan: Retailers absolutely need to focus on making it easy for customers to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. A good search tool is great. Most customers these days understand search is the way to find what they are looking for quickly. If your search does not work well, you will lose sales because customers will leave if they do not find what they are looking for quickly.
We used Search Spring to improve search on our site. We use all of the daily reports to make sure zero results are handled, so a search for that term in the future does not cause a user to bounce. (Editor’s note: Zero results mean a site visitor’s search query doesn’t return any results). We review the most popular search terms to make sure we are optimizing those search results pages to push the items we would like to sell. It has been especially good lately because it pushes in-stock items to the top, which is huge right now with the uncertainty of inventory in the marketplace. We try to route customers to search as much as we can as we have noticed a customer is 3.5-times more likely to convert when using site search.
The more information you have about a product, the easier it will be for the customer to make a decision and check out. If they need to wait to hear back from an email inquiry or phone call, they may change their mind.
To help with this, we implemented question-and-answer on our product pages. This not only allows for customer-generated content, but it also allows us to publish answers to questions shoppers have that potentially others will have. Since we implemented it, we have continued to see year-over-year double-digit increases in sales. I think it also adds trust and shows that we have other customers and we can be a trusted site.
We also continue to work on adding more information about product dimensions because more and more customers want detailed dimensions, especially for furniture so they can understand how it will fit in their home.
Also, make sure customers can easily reach you if they have questions. It is so important that customer service staff is well trained. I have seen far too many times where a customer calls to ask a question, and the representative is clueless which leads to a lost sale.
Digital Commerce 360: What is one step you took to improve the customer experience and how did it pay off for your company?
Greenspan: We spent a lot of time analyzing how our customers are getting to our site using Google Analytics and then determining which pages needed to be improved due to high bounce rates. We continually monitor pages and bounce rates to make sure we are providing a seamless experience. Over the years, we have drastically reduced our bounce rates which has led to increase in conversion percentage.
With Google Analytics, we really concentrated on pages with a high bounce rate. Bi-monthly we would make small changes to those pages to see how it would affect bounce rates. For instance, on our dining chairs page, we had a bounce rate of over 80%. We began changing out some of the thumbnail images, put banners at the top and started using a sale icon on items which ultimately dropped the bounce rate on that page down below 40%.
Digital Commerce 360: What is a lesson learned or challenge you had to endure related to the customer experience and how did you ultimately solve it?
Greenspan: Early on, we did not realize the importance of properly training staff to understand all aspects of the products we are selling. We started to record calls and noticed that many of our staff just were not giving potential customers good information, ultimately leading to loss of sales. Even though we have thousands of products, we developed training to give our staff a deeper understanding of our products to be able to speak intelligently about them. We have noticed it also has given our staff enthusiasm about our products, which shows through on calls and emails.
For training, weekly I will have a team meeting with our purchasing and production manager. We will review the construction of products so staff really understands the inner workings of items. We describe to them materials mostly, such as wood veneer ,so they have a deeper understanding of furniture as a whole. This understanding, I believe, helps them speak more intelligently about products when they get questions.
What we had noticed on calls is that when staff was presented with a question about a product, hesitation about an answer almost always led to a lost sale because the customer would lose confidence in the answer. By providing this deeper understanding, our staff has become pros about furniture.
In addition, when we launch a new brand or work with a new vendor we will have that brand or vendor’s sales manager spend some time with the team to understand what makes their products great or unique.