Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sample Maggi's new Pasta at the online store-'Sense'ible way

The dot com boom in 90’s was raucous with every company trying to get a whacky idea and make money out of it. One such endeavor was the ecommerce. The thought of buying and selling using the internet was fascinating and innocuous that every company which jumped into the bandwagon. The justification was solely based on appealing to one's rationales. This includes:
  • Convenience
  • Better deals
  • Speed to market
While all these are true, the dot com marketers were up against a monster called ‘ human behavior change’. The pros of eCommerce was up against few compelling downsides:
  • Absence of Touch, feel and trial
  • Credit card security
  • Customer Trust
  • Promise vs delivery
    •  Sticker shocks
    •  Delays in delivery

The rationales which appeared convincing no longer holds water. Building an ecomm website, driving traffic, increasing customer stickiness, losing customer due to poor experience and trying hard to get  the customer back is turning out to be a Sisyphean element for companies. Gone are the days when customers pickup brands blindfolded. The offline brand building exercise have lead to brand awareness and purchase predisposition but the consumers tend to drift at the time of purchase.

‘Enter online customer experience’. The latest report from Razorfish( quote by Garrith Schmidt – expert in Experience Planning) has indicated that 65% of the customers are influenced by their online experience and  will eventually determine purchase. This is termed as Digital Primacy.

I am true believer that any of today’s much talked about online experiences are inspired from offline experience. In that case it would useful to look at how sale happens in a retail store and what is that we can take as inspiration. So what is the science of shopping and why do we buy? I am truly inspired by Paco Underhill’s book on ‘Why we buy’. His recommendations for a physical store is after thorough research at store fronts and is truly amazing. Some of them which caught my attention includes:

Events in a store Offline retail store
Traffic into the store Entrance is a runway – Customer takes time land 
and to adjust to the shopping store

Exits at entrance Cognitive drift – It is very easy for the customer to 
drift given the multiple options. Potential reason 
for exits

Navigation Butt brush effect – Woman in particular get put off
if somebody brushes past them while shopping . 
Importance on spacious aisles( navigation)

Shopping Sensory marketing: what appeals to the senses 
and how customers  are lured to a notion 
of purchase.

Metrics Closure rate

· Interception rate

· Waiting rate

If customers were to buy what they planned for then the economy will collapse. So what is that the online marketer needs to do to lure the customer for more purchase and repeat purchase. What are some of the best practices that one can take from the offline store experiences. I will just take one aspect of retail shopping that will have an impact on purchase behavior and explore possibilities in the online world – Sensory Marketing

Touch and Trial are very crtical to customers shopping experince. Imagine how you would explore things in a supermarket before you buy it.The customer would expect a close to offline experience in the online shop before a purchase. How do we appeal to the senses of the user and enable purchase? If touch and trial are very vital for a purchase, how can we make it available to the online user or provide compelling alternatives ? Lets take the case of an offline multi brand retail store wanting to make an impact in the online world.I will try and attempt to give tactical solutions to solve this issue.

Touch: Lets assume that the customer wants to buy a camera at the store.This is being handled very well by most online shopping stores through interactive 3 D demo’s, product pictures in actual size to reduce dissonce, user reviews about the product etc which act as a surrgogate to touch. The launch of Apple’s iPad will further enhance it because the interactive sessions done through mouse and keyboards will be replaced by a stylus called fingers. This will get it closer to the actual touch we may desire.

Trial: Lets take for example a customer who wants to buy monthly groceries using the online shop (assuming it will happen one day). This is an ideal platform to induce trail.This can be achieved using a dextrous combination off offline and online.Lets say Maggi wants to promote its new Pasta and they have decided to do a sampling exercise. Customers never say no to incentives or freebies.This can be done either when the customer is about to check out or while he is browsing for products in similar categories. The sampling can be done as follows:
  • Either at check out or while browsing for similar products show the Maggi Pasta sample to the customer
  • The customer has a choice to try the sample
  • Once he/she chooses the option, the sample is delivered to the customer along with the grocery
  • The next time the customer logs in to make purchase, solicit feedback about the sample and check if he is interested in purchasing the product
  • If yes, add to shopping cart, else seek feedback
This will be a good opportunity for marketers to induce trial and close loop with a possible sale.

‘Sense’ible way