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What Online Shoppers Want?

27 January, 2010

As a lady who enjoys fashion, I am very aware of the importance of a good shopping experience. The layout of the store, how the clothes are presented, what clothes are stocked, the latest special offers, queue times for the changing rooms, waiting times to pay for my new outfit and the importance of my card being accepted. These are all factors that will contribute to a positive shopping experience.

And with the ever expanding availability of products online, it’s only natural that seasoned retail store users will expect, and indeed put up with nothing less than, the personal experiences and high expectations that they are used to on the high street when it comes to service, offers and the range of products available.

As we launch the B2X booking engines, customer experience is at the forefront of our minds. Therefore, I was interested to come across a free downloadable white paper entitled “What Shoppers Want”. This investigated (as a mystery online shopper) what consumers need, want and expect from their experience in a visual sense. It was an interesting read (if you have the time), and although focused more on the clothes side of online retailing, there are definite comparisons and ideas that can be transferrable onto our online booking experience.

What do Online Consumers want?

The main point that the report made was that consumers wish to feel that they are getting an in store experience whilst shopping online. So below, using points that they raised in the report, I have suggested ideas on how we could create and achieve this with our B2X solutions.

How do we achieve this with B2X?

Product descriptions are vitally important. We need to remember that the consumer may not have our brochure in front of them. Therefore we should compare a customer’s viewing of our short product descriptions of different holidays to the way in which they skim the aisles in a high street shop. They need to stimulate attention, interest and desire, whilst creating the urge to undertake an action (AIDA).

To maintain an in store experience we also need to make sure that all the most up-to-date products are available to our consumers, that our itinerary and pricing information is correct and that all of the special offers are available to be booked online. If a consumer feels they will get a better deal or a more informed opinion by picking up the phone they will do so.

Images are an imperative tool for travel companies, as our product is intangible. Images help bring the voyage to life for the consumer. However, static images are no longer cutting it with the online shopper. The report suggests that being able to spin, zoom in, and see images at different angles are all good tools to use. A good example for this would be the ships cabin pictures, if we could let our clients zoom in, take their own private tour of the ship and cabin to see its facilities, this would greatly improve the chances of them booking with us. With the growing amount of competitors sailing to Norway, sub-standard pictures showing plain cabins, facilities etc is not a good idea. Our ships are intimate, not massive hotels on water, and an interactive guide of our fleet will show how we differ from our competitors – we need to show and explain to them the Hurtigruten experience.

Video is also another important point raised. With travel videos are a very effective selling tool as you get to show them they are getting for their money rather than relying on words or static images alone. Tanel is working on videos for the excursions. When these are done, why not link them to the booking engine so consumers can be tempted and see what they could be experiencing as additional add-ons to their voyage?

Additional add-ons is another factor that we should be considering. Clothing retailers will show a selected dress complete as an outfit with matching shoes and accessories that are also available to be purchased. It’s the old “do you want fries with that” mentality. There is no reason we cannot do this with our voyages – recommending extras that might benefit the consumers’ experience, i.e. excursions that are available with that voyage, extensions of stay and onboard experiences.

The report also recommended fewer steps in the online process, as you are likely to lose more customers the more clicks and steps you make them take. This will become more apparent when Google analytics is set up, allowing us to use the report to see where we lose people during the booking process.

Hurtigruten’s strong level of customer service, product knowledge and relationship with travel agents have led to positive customer experiences, and the B2X’s teams challenge is to recreate this rich experience online.

Sources:

PDF report

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