I am not a fan of pushy salesmen at all, but I have to say that getting an honest and valuable advice from someone who loves his job can be really precious.
‘May I help you?’ This question is probably the essence of the shopping experience. The human touch of a shop-owner or employee able to understand your need and guide you through the whole process.
The Human touch can be one of the main strengths of a physical shop and the reason behind the success of many of the shops we walked into.
On the other hand, recreating a human touch experience could be considered as one of the trickiest challenges of online commerce, for obvious reasons. But it is one of the most valuable areas to invest in to recreate that sense of unicity and empathy that makes the experience outstanding. E-shops are often cold and crowded listings of products and it shouldn’t be this way. There’s much more to take into account.
How can we design a human-touch experience?
There are mainly 4 areas to take care of which can help your e-shop get closer to your users and stand out from the crowd
I always buy wine at a local shop in my neighborhood because I know its story. How it was born and then grew together with its founder, who carefully selects the bottles and welcomes people in his shop every day. There’s a subtle connection that drives the buying process and that underlies the story itself. This is something you can even do online, by trying to go behind the functional and tell the people about yourself, the passion that drives your business and your life. Storytelling is a great way to establish an emotional connection with the customer and create engagement.
There are infinite ways to describe a product or communicate a message. The way you do it will completely shape the user’s perception.
Backcountry.com, a brand focused on outdoor sports equipment, is a great example – they communicate the world of outdoor sports in a fresh way by showing success and failure of sports lovers everyday life.
I never stop to be surprised by the number of ways people can misunderstand the interfaces. It could be clicking on the titles rather than the buttons or randomly searching for a button that is right under their nose. This means that we should always be there when a user needs help. The research says that about 80% of users abandon their online cart just because they often can’t get the help they want at the right moment. There is plenty of chat system services as Zendesk or Intercom that can really improve the experience on this side, making you feel always connected with someone who cares and is ready to help.
One of the things that make Amazon big is the strong recommendation algorithm. It drives powerful suggestions for every purchase you make. To recreate a friend-suggestion experience today, you don’t have to build a machine-learning team yourself. There are API services like clerk.io that learn from the user’s behavior and suggest only what’s relevant at the right moment. We are using this tool to improve the UX of our client DressYouCan. It really facilitates creating and renting women’s outfits.
Just as you do in real life, never forget the value of social networks in the shopping experience. You may want to have a feedback on a certain product or share an opinion. On the company side, this helps a lot in growing your brand awareness. However, be careful to keep a smooth UX on third-party platforms too. It all makes part of the overall experience you are offering to your users. I really love the Mailchimp approach and how their unconventional way of dealing with e-mail marketing is consistent with their social media tone of voice.
One of the things I like the most about online shopping is having my time to browse, view and compare the products I am interested in. When this experience is combined with a sense of human touch we have the perfect mix. When the user finds relevant information with custom suggestions, he leaves the e-shop satisfied and willing to come back. That’s the difference between one time shoppers and loyal customers 😉
Go beyond the functional and invest in an emotional approach that expresses your company’s vision – the results can be amazing.
What about you? What makes your buying experience unique? Share your vision!