Act responsibly and still drive sales? It’s possible. This is how you do it…

The e-Commerce industry has exploded in the past year as lockdown restrictions saw the closure of physical stores across the country. As the UK enters back into life without most restrictions and aims to obtain a sense of ‘normality’ well over a year after the pandemic hit the world, the retail industry continues its high-speed transformation and innovation.

Retailers quickly pivoted to adapt to the unexpected changes by developing innovative techniques to achieve the much-coveted conversion. These effective tactics soon became familiar to many online shoppers over lockdown with tools like flash sales, widespread adoption of one-click payments, Buy Now Pay Later instalment plans and more advanced tracking cookies driving sales.

Openpay’s recently published Hard Sell report, revealed that ‘cart arts’, such as flash sales, ‘selling fast’ tags and ‘back in stock’ notifications, influenced an incredible £3.4billion in impulse purchases – with younger Gen Z and Millennial audiences most susceptible. But is this a good thing? Are targeting tactics too invasive, or have we got it right? This report examines how e-commerce features are most effective when used sparingly and strategically, leveraging data to accurately target the correct demographic and as a result, drive sales.

Responsible selling and buying are now more important than ever. With consumer confidence and spending not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, coupled with ongoing financial worries due to the economic fallout from the pandemic, the industry has a duty to put the consumer first and avoid exploiting shoppers for short-term gain.

As we look ahead to a new era of retail post-pandemic, the question remains - how can retailers act responsibly with their use of data and marketing techniques, while still driving sales?

Front of shop

For both online-only and established retailers with storefronts across the UK, their website is the epicentre when it comes to driving conversion online. It’s arguably the retailer’s most important asset to communicate their brand DNA outside of a physical store.

Openpay’s research discovered 92 per cent of consumers say that a website that is easy to browse and navigate is important when shopping online. Similarly, 93 per cent of consumers said it’s important that a website is technically good when purchasing goods or services, meaning the site loads quickly and adopts transparent and straightforward payment processes. The speed of innovation online proves that sites with prehistoric back-end systems do not provide the customer experience they require to remain competitive. Efficiency, security and speed is paramount for consumers.

Trigger warning

Openpay recommends that retailers reconsider the use of one-click payment options for baskets over a certain value, to drive more conscious spending. The efficiency of the one-click feature means there isn’t much time to consider a purchase between adding items to your basket and paying, thereby increasing impulse purchasing.

A similar tactic used to promote impulse buying is low-stock alerts, with some retailers listing the number of units sold in the past 24 hours or the number of products left in stock. For consumers, this elicits a psychological response which encourages careless spending. Openpay recommends that retailers should only use factual information when indicating stock levels and refrain from using overly persuasive or deceptive language which could mis-communicate the availability.

Buy now, stay responsible later

Openpay recommends retailers and payment providers work together to follow ASA guidelines and educate consumers on Buy Now, Pay Later solutions. The recent boom of Buy Now, Pay Later has been heralded for allowing consumers more flexible options when shopping online. However, there’s a risk that when consumers don’t pay anything up front, it may inadvertently encourage absent-minded purchasing. Openpay recommends consumers choose a BNPL provider which requires an initial down payment, encouraging conscious purchasing.

As the Hard Sell report explores in more detail, driving customer conversion rates is now more important than ever. Retailers have a bank of sophisticated tactics to draw from, and whilst there’s no denying that many ecommerce features are invaluable to today’s online consumer experience, there are also areas which are causes of concern. The responsibility of conscious consumerism must fall on retailers to adopt honest and transparent policies, as we move forwards together as an industry out of lockdown.

To download the report in full, click here.

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