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Three ways ‘web-alongs’ can improve your retail offering

Olly Warren Senior Director, EMEA 29/05/2020

With brick-and-mortar stores closed across the country, web-alongs (which monitor customers’ online shopping behaviour) could play a key role in optimising your digital retail experience

Without the distinction of in store look and feel, having a polished online offering is the only way brands can set themselves apart from their competitors and keep customers coming back.

One in five (18%) think clothing retail shops should be the last businesses to re-open.

But it’s not just about interface and looking the part. Gaining deeper insights into actual consumer behaviours in real time will enable brands to really get to grips with their customer, who they are, and what their purchasing journey looks like – particularly now that lockdown has forced many to shop online for the first time.

How web-alongs can help

‘Web-alongs’ are online accompanied shops, conducted remotely via a user’s own computer. They enable us to see real customers on real shopping experiences and obtain in-the-moment feedback on user experience.

Web-alongs could suit brands looking to revamp their online offering, or to solve a particular problem. They offer a way to gather intelligence and help brands make better decisions when it comes to their online shopping experiences.

  • The customer journey

Web-alongs capture as natural a consumer experience as possible, helping us to see customer processes and needs as well as how they interact with different touchpoints —so that we can help you understand where your customers journeys start and unfold

  • Pain points

Customers complete real tasks on a brand’s website, alerting us to stumbling blocks and helping brands provide a better experience. This deep dive into the site UX (user experience) provides feedback for informing both detailed fine-tuning and more macro-level changes

  • “Best in class” from a customer perspective

We also track the customer experience on competitor websites, to give a sense of the market and how your brand’s website compares. We can see who is providing the best customer experience and what lessons can be taken from the other sites

Why web-alongs are more important than ever

Post lockdown life won’t consist of busy shopping centres or crowded high streets – in fact, one in five (18%) think clothing retail shops should be the last businesses to re-open. Queues and lack of staff are also putting people off returning to high street stores (37% and 27% respectively).

Now that we’ve been forced to change our habits and embrace online shopping, this rapid shift will be difficult to reverse.

Failure to optimise online shopping experiences and engage the wave of people trying online shopping for the first time could be perilous for brands. The coronavirus crisis has brought to light the grim reality of overlooking online retail for brands like Primark, which has previously relied on in-store traffic alone. When it was forced to close all of its UK stores at the end of March, the brand’s monthly sales dropped from around £650m to zero.

Despite those exceptions, the pandemic has forced many brands to re-evaluate their online presence. Web-alongs are an efficient way to truly get to know what consumers, of all ages and digital abilities, need from an online shopping experience.

Savanta frequently conducts ‘web-alongs’, online accompanied shops conducted remotely through a user’s own computer. They let us see real customers on real missions and obtain in-the-moment feedback on user experience.

Web-alongs are just one of eight methodologies that make up Savanta Live, an approach developed by our team of experts as an effective alternative to traditional face to face approaches.

To find out more about how Savanta Live can benefit your business, please click here.

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