Although eCommerce receives most of the limelight, 91.6% of U.S. sales still take place offline. With all the benefits of buying online — lower cost, wider choice, no need to put on pants — how come retail stores are still a thing?
According to a study by Ripen Ecommerce, 30.8% is explained by people wanting to be able to touch and feel the products. The second main reason (29.9%) is that people want their items right away.
This need for instant gratification is a powerful one. And while a 4D online shopping experience is likely still some years away, there are some powerful tactics online merchants can apply today to satisfy this craving for right now.
You’re Wired for Instant Gratification
Our need for instant gratification is deeply wired into our minds. Science calls this phenomenon hyperbolic discounting — the tendency to overvalue the present versus the future.
Rolf Dobelli describes that most people prefer receiving $1,000 today over $1,100 in one month. This is remarkable because safe investment opportunities with a 10% monthly interest rate are extremely rare.
According to evolutionary psychology, the human mind evolved when we were hunter-gatherers. 100,000 years ago, patience was of little use. If you ran into a ripe cherry bush, you’d better dive in before the crowds got to it. The need to plan ahead only came with the advent of agriculture, and the few thousands of years since then haven’t been enough to change our wiring.
Our present-day mobile notifications and news updates reflect our addiction to instant gratification. Most cannot resist checking their phone right after a message “bleep”. Modern technology, apps, and tools reinforce our instant gratification habits. Boredom is becoming a rarity.
While giving in to instant urges is lousy advice for the individual, online businesses can benefit by playing into this reality of our impatient brain. Here are 9 tips to add to your website.
1. Guest Checkout
Customer emails are valuable, but filling in forms takes time and reduces the instant gratification factor. Which is why the best online shops offer the option of a guest checkout.
Massimo Dutti offers a good example. Once you’ve made your shopping selection, new users can choose to create an account or to check out as a guest. Because at the end of the guest checkout you will already have filled in a lot of information necessary to register an account, you can still select that option.
2. One-Click Buying
The less effort, the more likely the buy. And what could be less effort than one click?
Apple Pay is an exemplary tool that can add lightning speed to your checkout process. Customers who are using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, can pay via Apple Pay without having to create an account or log in.
The confirmation happens through the fingerprint scan Touch ID, which besides making the process faster and easier also makes it more secure. Check out Apple Pay for Merchants to add it as a payment option.
PayPal’s One Touch offers similar functionality.
3. Same-Day Delivery
According to a Temando study, 80% of online shoppers would like their purchases to arrive on the same day, and 61% would like them to arrive within three hours after buying.
That’s the reason behind the success of same-day delivery schemes like Amazon Prime.
Now Amazon isn’t your average store, and same-day delivery programs won’t be viable for all businesses. Also, when implemented, same-day delivery will have to be limited to certain geographical areas.
4. Real Time Tracking
If same-day delivery isn’t an option, real time tracking is the next best thing. By allowing your customer to track her order, you open the black box of product delivery. You make the process transparent.
Various experiments show the power of transparency. In the Psychology of Waiting Lines, for example, it was shown that a known waiting period was experienced shorter than an unknown waiting period.
A Harvard University research also showed that people appreciate products and services more when they see the work that has gone into their delivery – a phenomenon termed the labor illusion.
To implement real-time tracking, you need to integrate with your mail service provider (e.g. FedEx, UPS, etc.). If you have a Shopify shop, you could use the app Trackr.
5. Live Chat
When a shopper has a question about a product, she wants an immediate answer. A Forrester Research stated that 57% of online customers will leave your website if they don’t receive a quick answer.
That makes sense when you consider that the next option is just two clicks away on the Google search result page. Live chat for websites is really the only support channel that connects to this reality.
No visitor waits around on the website until her email is answered. Calling in does offer the chance of an immediate response, but it requires a ‘media switch’ away from the website — not to mention the bad experiences accumulated over the years through annoying waiting queues.
Because one operator can chat with multiple customers at the same time, waiting queues are a thing of the past — without soaring service costs. A case study with Virgin Airlines showed that the average chat agent could cover the work done by 15 agents focused on e-mails.
In another case study, Intuit increased its average order value by 43% by placing live chat at their checkout process. Similarly, in an A/B test case study with EZ Texting, the implementation of live chat increased signups by 31%.
6. Messaging Support
This is a relatively new channel for support, but it’s quickly gaining ground. With messaging support, companies offer service over the customer’s favorite messaging apps — e.g. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Telegram.
By connecting via these apps, companies can ensure a permanent and low-barrier connection through an app that the customer can quickly access through their phone.
KLM Airlines offers a good example. When you’re reserving a flight, you can choose to manage your booking via Facebook Messenger. You receive updates, reminders, and your boarding pass via Messenger, and can get in direct response with support if necessary.
Google has also recognized the potential of direct messaging, which is why they started offering a messaging option inside Adwords ads. Through this, people can get in touch via text messaging from the Google Search Results.
Chatbots are still in an early phase, but the technology is definitely promising for instant support. Connected to live chat or messaging, a chatbot can help customers with simple tasks much faster than any human could.
1-800-flowers is a famous example. By chatting with their chatbot on Facebook Messenger, you can easily order your next set of flowers. When your request goes beyond the chatbot’s capabilities, you can get in touch with a real person.
This is a simple one, but its result can nevertheless be powerful. A CMU study showed that trial rates for a DVD subscription rose by 20% after its promo text was changed from “a $5 fee” to “a small $5 fee”.
Similarly, stressing the right words — “Instant access”, “Quick setup”, “Immediate results”, “Open 27/7” — can trigger your customer’s inner instant gratification junkie.
9. Push Notifications
Mobile apps play into our desire for real-time updates through push notifications. When a message comes in, most of us get an itch that doesn’t stop until we’ve opened it.
But you don’t need a mobile app anymore to send real-time updates to your customers. You can reach the same effect by adding push notification widgets like PushCrew, PushEngage, or OneSignal to your website.
When someone visits your blog, she will be prompted to receive push notifications from you. When you have an update — for example, a new blog post — the user will receive a browser or mobile phone notification.
Once you’re aware, you’ll notice that most of today’s Ecommerce innovations are tailored towards instant gratification. Design your website to play into the “we want it now” nature of your customers, and you could see instant results. Try it now!
About the Author: Pascal is Mr. Marketing at Userlike — live chat for website and mobile support. He writes about the intersection of technology and customer service on the Userlike Blog. Follow him on Twitter.
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