to Purchase
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To PuRcHAsE - Bronto

Paving the Path toPurchaseA shopper’s path to a purchase used to be a relatively straight journey. From your product pages all theway through to checkout – the dusty trail was easy enough for shoppers to navigate and it was fairlystraight forward for you to market to along the way. Yes, there were forks in the road, but the path besttravelled was usually obvious to both the customer and the marketer.That path has now become a muddy, winding, splintering path that can confuse and overwhelm theshopper and leave the marketer struggling to target consumers along their journey. You were once ableto anticipate the “when, where and why” of the steps taken on the march to submitting an order, butconsumer behavior has rapidly evolved. Transitioning between multiple devices like laptops, tablets andsmartphones during the shopping process is now the norm. According to a study by Google/Ipsos, 85%of consumers will start shopping on one device and finish on another. It’s time for you and your team tounderstand and respond to these shifts in consumer behavior, get rid of the outdated trail and pave thepath to purchase.This white paper will meet the consumer as they arrive on your product pages and end once an order hasbeen confirmed. Influencers that bring the shopper to your site and the product page are related trailsthat have their own complexities outside the scope of this paper. By focusing on this highly engaged partof the purchase process, you can substantially improve customer engagement, lower abandonment ratesand provide a better shopping experience for your customer. Of course, all of these optimizations result inthe ultimate goal — more revenue.In this white paper, the steps of the path to purchase – Browsing, Carting, Checking Out and Confirming– are sub-divided into two sections:The Path: What led the shopper to this step of the path? What emotional components willcontribute to engagement or abandonment?The Pavement: How you focus and maximize your marketing efforts to meet your customers’needs and help them along the path to purchase.BrowsingCartingCheckingOutConfirming

Product Shots vs. Compelling ImageryConsumers need more than a basic gallery of multiple product images showing various angles. In theeffort to make the online experience a more tangible shopping process, your product pages need to offera variety of methods for the shopper to visually engage with a product. Create a more compellingvisual experience by adding features such as product zoom, alternate views, rendered color swatching,close-up textured views and 360-degree views. The shopper will not be able to hold or try on your product,so you need to take the steps to emulate that experience as much as possible. Only offering a smallnumber of images can cause your bounce rates to increase as your shoppers leave your site to see ifyour competitor has more to offer. Consumers report that large product images, alternate views, “viewlarger” windows and zoom are indispensable shopping tools. Rich imaging helps shoppers grasp andexperience product details in a natural way. In page zoom, as shown in the example from Cost PlusWorld Market, is very popular due to its simplicity — no separate pages or windows needed.Cost Plus World Market’s productpages go beyond large productimages by allowing shoppers tozoom in to see product detailslike the fabric, texture and fringesof this scarf.

The FitProduct variety and sizing options are some of the key benefits to shopping online. One quick trip to thedenim section of will show eight different cuts for their denim collection. How do you help ashopper to know whether “Sexy Boot” or “Perfect Boot” is the right cut of jeans to buy? General descriptionsof an item’s cut may be enough to help a customer find her fit, but many will want to know the actualmeasurements for your various styles. The wrong fit leads to 60-65% of all returns, so any methods ofhelping your customer choose the correct size can help to decrease return-related costs.Category FeaturesAnother way to decrease product page bounce rates and keep your shopper engaged is to highlightfeatures within a specific category. For product categories that have learning curves, like computers orcameras, or products that have constantly changing trends, like fashion or design, provide additionalways for the consumer to educate themselves.This will lead to a more confident, informed buyer, and cancontribute to increased sales by upselling and cross-selling related items. Explaining which lenses workwith which brands of cameras or which length boot is best for the top-selling skirt can help customerstransition from a singular product interest to a more tangible “how I will actually use my purchase” mentality.

ComparisonsAlthough more commonly shown in product search results, including product comparisons within a productpage can help your shoppers understand the value of spending a bit more on a different item or whichfeatures they will sacrifice if they are more interested in saving a few dollars. While you want to keep theprimary focus of the product page on the featured product, including a below-the-fold comparison optionof similar items can help the undecided buyer to better understand what she is getting for her buck.Product DiscoveryUpsells and cross-sells are typically generated based on data related to price point, product line, brand, etc.While this may be effective, adding the human touch of a curated collection can put your shopper on thepath to more buying opportunities. Collection selling is often an underused and under-optimized part ofthe path to purchase, but if used correctly, it can help increase engagement and conversions. Merchantsshould encourage multiple purchases of similar or complimentary products with a single click, and integratevalue-added content like video and alternative images. This approach can be broad, such as a seasonalpreview or lookbook, or narrow like highlighting specific outfits from your buyers. Position members ofyour team as the experts who can show your customer how to get the best value from combining items.New York-based retailer Intermix creates lookbooksfor every season and occasion so that customers caneasily view what products are in style and what outfits gotogether. Their product pages also include “similar looks”which can give consumers another way to shop if they arenot interested in the featured product.

Cross-Channel Transitioning and OptimizationMany shoppers are on your site with no intention to buy online. Researching is part of the shoppingexperience and your website provides insight into your other channels. Including the ability to verifyin-store availability at your store locations can direct a shopper to a location where he won’t leaveempty handed. Featuring in-store pick-up and availability will not only help those customers who intentionallyplan to shop in one channel and buy in another, but it can also provide an alternative convenience to theshopper who may have intended to buy on your site but wants to save on shipping by picking up the itemat a local prominently features storelocation and availability on their product pages.The option to check additional store locationsis also provided.Customer ServiceA confident shopper is more likely to purchase than abandon. In addition to creating a shopping experiencethat is technically secure, help your shopper to better understand your customer service programs bothpre- and post-purchase. Including frequently asked questions on the product page can keep the shopperfrom having to click away from the product page to review your customer service FAQs and return policies.Easy access to live chat, contact forms and customer service phone numbers can help a customer findother answers he may need before buying. A study by US Commerce Roundup found that 66% ofcustomers find accessibility of customer service options the most important feature.Other customer service options to include on your product pages include product guarantees, loyalty orfree shipping club reminders, gift card information and warranty information.Promoting SocialThe popularity of social networking sites is constantly increasing. Two-thirds of all U.S. Internet users visitat least one social networking site, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Many customersrely on recommendations from their friends in order to make a purchase decision. Social media can helpdrive shoppers to product pages. Merchants should implement the share and like functionality from theproduct page, as well as pull in social graph data where possible.

cartingThe PathOnce a product has been carted, the shopper’s level of commitment to purchasing has increased.Decisions have been made – color, size, quantity – product images have been evaluated and the shopperhas made the decision to start checking out…or have they? According to a Google/Ipsos study, 45% ofshoppers will use your shopping cart to store information to be viewed on a different device at a later time.Consumers are now aware that abandoning their carts does not truly mean they are undoing all of the timeand work it took to cart the products. Many shoppers are simply saving this information to shop when it’sconvenient or they have had a chance to weigh their purchase decision.All of this adds a more complex layer to this part of the path to purchase. Some shoppers take the fork inthe path that is truly abandonment while others are just taking a break. These are two unique consumerbehaviors and marketers must be able to speak to these two types of customers in ways that help themalong their way to submitting their order.The PavementThere are two scenarios when a shopper first arrives in your shopping cart. They are either going toimmediately cruise through checkout and submit an order, or they are going to get nervous on some leveland the abandonment issues kick in. As a marketer, you are there to help them out. You must meet yourcustomer’s anxiety and indecision with options and solutions. The user experience of the cart and checkoutmust be streamlined and painless. You need to take every step to eliminate the risk of technical issues.Anxiety and IndecisionFirst, examine your shopping cart pages. Sticker shock is one of the primary causes for immediate shoppingcart abandonment. According to a study by Forrester, 36% of shoppers did not buy items because theyfelt the total cost of the purchase was higher than expected. The gap between perceived cost and actualcost is usually a combination of taxes, shipping choices and other fees that are not unveiled and totaleduntil a shopper visits the shopping cart. This is compounded by the 27% of shoppers who did not pay foritems because they want to comparison shop before completing their order. With total order costs beingthe first major fork in the road to abandonment, it’s important to provide this information upfront in thecheckout process. Bronto’s study, “From Abandon to Conversion: Why Shoppers Abandon Carts and WhatMerchants Can Do About It,” found that 64% of brands are showing shipping costs on the first page ofthe checkout process while nearly 1-in-4 (22%) do not show shipping costs until the fourth page or later.Considering how consumers are shifting between devices and channels to shop and buy, your shoppingcart expiration should allow enough time for a shopper to fully evaluate the purchase. If you are seeing lowconversion rates on abandoners, test an extended cart lifespan to see if your customers need more time tocommit to the buy.Some of your shoppers may intentionally use your shopping cart as a wish list to store items and revisit at alater time. While there are benefits to the shopper and marketer by having dedicated wish list functionality, thisconsumer behavior exists and you should acknowledge in your marketing efforts. Including a “save cart forlater” option will give you an indication that the cart is not being completely abandoned. This will open thedoor to create awareness of your wish list capabilities and to send a cart reminder message that speaksto revisiting the cart to continue shopping rather than recovering an order that was abandoned.

Items that a shopper carts will likely contain more than she intends to actually purchase. The shoppingcart must allow the shopper to modify the items in her cart to the exact list she wishes to order. Only 21%of brands allow customers the option of modifying product quantities within the cart. Additional optionslike size, color and gift options save the shopper time by avoiding clicks out of the cart and back to theproduct page to make the necessary changes.Aldo gives shoppers the option to change sizeand color in the shopping cart. Not only can theseoptions help decrease cart abandonment but theyalso save shoppers the time and effort of revisitingthe product page to make modifications.Abandoned Cart Reminder EmailsAlthough 47.5% of marketers say they send an abandoned cart email according to Bronto and RSRResearch’s “Harnessing the Power: How Retailers Collect and Use Purchase-Related Data,” only 13%of brands actually sent this type of message. Only 8% of abandoners will return to complete an orderwhen no abandoned cart reminder is sent compared to a conversion rate of 20% when the message issent. Clearly not reminding your shoppers about their carts means lost revenue.For those brands sending abandoned cart reminders, 73% send the email within 12 hours of abandonment,though there is clearly no silver bullet with the actual timing rather evenly distributed.How long after the cart is abandoned do you send your first abandoned cart reminder email?25 - 48 hours> 48 hours< 1 hour1 hour13 - 24 hours2 hours3 hours5 - 12 hours5 hours4 hoursSource: “Harnessing the Power: How Retailers Collect and Use Purchase-Related Data”– Bronto Software and RSR Research

Unlike your promotional messages, most of your subscribers will not expect to receive the abandonedcart reminder. While you may have spent a significant amount of time researching when and what yousend, your subscriber will need to get his bearings once the message is in his inbox. This means thatthe content of the message must be easily and quickly understood. A clear majority (77%) of the abandonedcart reminders received in the study used a customer service tone in their subject lines. This upfrontintroduction sets an expectation with the recipient about why he is receiving the email. This can helpdecrease spam complaints and help avoid deliverability issues.Abandoned Cart Reminder Subject Line ToneBothServiceIncentive0% 25% 50% 75% 100%Source: “From Abandon to Conversion: Why Shoppers Abandon Carts and What Merchants can do about it”– Bronto SoftwareOnce opened, the content of the abandoned cart reminder email needs to address the likely causes forabandonment. Some brands will avoid any cart-specific data in their reminders. This can be a result ofnot wanting the shoppers to feel like the brand is taking a big brother approach to collecting and usingdata. Or, some brands simply do not have the capability of including this kind of information in theiremails, so the same customer service-oriented message is used for all abandoners.Most brands, however, will use cart-related data to enhance their messages and encourage their shoppersto return to their carts. From our study, we found that 54% showed the abandoned product but only 31%included the price. The excitement of the actual product could encourage the customer to revisit theproduct page, while seeing the total cost could reintroduce the feeling of sticker shock that led to theinitial abandonment.This abandoned cart reminder email fromtotes>>ISOTONER shows the products thatwere abandoned and includes links directlyto each product.

Creating a sense of urgency in the abandoned cart reminder email can also help drive conversions.Only 8% of brands showed the availability or in-stock amounts in their cart reminders, and only 23%noted the cart expiration. While both of these approaches create a sense of urgency, they also helpinform the customer of how long she has before she could miss out on making the purchase.Some customers may have additional questions they need answered before purchasing. Bronto foundthat 62% of abandoned cart messages offer a way for shoppers to complete their orders by phone.Featuring the nearest or preferred store contact information or a store locater link can also provide anotherway for your customers to shop and to take their cart information with them on their mobile devices.Abandoned Cart Reminder Email SeriesIt can be a challenge to effectively use all of the data available to you in only one message. Many brandswill send a series of abandoned cart reminders to their customers. If your shopper has not revisited hercart or completed her order, send a follow-up email that further reinforces the urgency for the shopper tobuy. Some brands will introduce an incentive for shoppers who do not engage with the first abandonedcart reminder.Do you send Abandoned Cart Reminders?No AbandonedCart Email52%One Reminder9%Two Reminders36%Three Reminders6%0% 20% 40% 60%Source: “Harnessing the Power: How Retailers Collect and Use Purchase-Related Data”– Bronto Software and RSR ResearchAs with product page abandonment reminders, it is important to limit the frequency with which a subscriberreceives an abandonment reminder email, especially if you have offered an incentive for a shopper tocomplete the purchase. Dynamic content can be used to exclude the incentive for customers who haverecently redeemed the cart abandonment offer.

detour: signing inThe PathThe shopper has carted an item and is about to start the checkout process. Engagement is high andwhile not fully committed to buy, the shopper has shown a significant intent to purchase. Then, out ofnowhere, the shopper is forced to detour away from the purchase path to tackle unexpected tasks thatare required to complete an order but not really part of the shopping or buying process. This off-roadingtangent of tasks can lead to frustration, confusion and eventually abandonment.The PavementAs detailed in the next section, understanding how the number of pages it takes to complete an order andthe information asked on those pages is vital to decreasing abandonment, getting the sale and providinga positive customer experience. As those pages are audited and streamlined, determine where potentialdetours may exist that take the shopper away from your site.The following seven steps illustrate a common detour that exists on many sites. While only 9% of sitesrequire a shopper to register before completing an order, the shopper may need to verify various datapoints like a corrected address or perhaps an account that is associated with his email address from aprevious purchase that the shopper forgot about.1 Click password reminder link2 Enter email or ID info3 Wait for the email4 Click link5 Create new password6 Log in7 Go back to cartThe duration of most of the seven steps in this checkout detour example is very short, but the shoppermust navigate the pages that are served to them, input information and submit. However, as you analyzeyour detours, be aware of any email or SMS notifications that may be required, such as an account IDverification email. The timing for triggered messages like abandoned cart reminders and welcome emailsare more commonly known and tested, but these operation triggered messages can be easily overlooked.These messages are often not sent using the same technology as your promotional emails. Consideringthe high level of engagement by the shopper and the location in the narrow end of the purchase funnel,it is essential to not only verify that these messages are immediately sent but to regularly review them toensure functionality. Customer service contact information should also be included in these operationalmessages in addition to the specific task like updating a password or verifying the account name. Gettingthe shopper back onto your site in the checkout process as quickly as possible will lead to a better shoppingexperience and can prevent lost sales.

While providing the intended service ofresetting a password, this plain text emailfrom Crate&Barrel is a visual break betweenthe shopping and buying processes.

checking outThe PathThe shopper has been cruising along while exploring your site, shopping and carting some products.Now things are going to slow down as they approach the tollbooth and start the checkout process. Beforethe shopper enters the checkout process, they are making many decisions. The shopping process isexploratory and can be exciting. Once the “Checkout” button is clicked, the dynamic changes. The processbecomes a bit more mechanical, logistical and generally, not as much fun. The causes for abandonmentalso change. The right size, color and cost of an item have already been weighed by the shopper. Nowthings like shipping costs and durations as well as taxes, technical problems, security concerns andtechnical issues are the potholes that can lead to a breakdown during this step in the path to purchase.The PavementThere are probably more pages between your shopping cart and order confirmation page than you wouldthink. In Bronto’s “From Abandon to Conversion,” study, we found an average of 5.6 pages between ashopping cart and submitting an order. But, when marketers were asked how many pages they had in the process,77% said that they have 3 or fewer. That is a considerable gap considering these are the pages thatturn shoppers into customers. Auditing your checkout process from the customer’s perspective can helpyou gain insight into the actual amount of work you are requiring your shoppers to take beforeclicking “submit order.”Number of pages from cart to order submissionAs audited1% 1% 4% 11% 28% 33% 15% 5% 2%1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9Source: “From Abandon to Conversion: Why Shoppers Abandon Carts and What Merchants can do about it”– Bronto SoftwareNumber of pages from cart to order submissionAs reported by marketers10% 28% 39% 13% 8% 1% 0% 0% 0% 1%1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ≥10Source: “Harnessing the Power: How Retailers Collect and Use Purchase-Related Data”– Bronto Software and RSR ResearchShoppers know they will need to complete a series of forms to complete their order. Marketers want tocollect as much data as possible to build better customer profiles and enhance their marketing efforts.An important mantra to remember is, “Data collection is essential for you… and is annoying for your customer!”

confirmingThe PathYour shopper has arrived at her final destination. She has submittedher order. While she is technically now a customer since she haspurchased, she has not yet received her order. This final leg ofthe purchase path often fills the consumer with heightenedemotions: Excitement for making a purchase, anticipation on whenthe order will ship out and actually arrive at her doorstep, concernthat the order may not have been processed correctly, and even regretfueled by buyer’s remorse.The PavementConfusedAmbivalentAnxiousDisconnectedNow that your marketing efforts have resulted in an order, the customer service components of your emailprogram should take center stage to address this limbo between completing an order and receiving theshipment. Not only will these efforts help to decrease your call center and customer support resourcerequirement, but you will create a foundation for long-term loyalty and repeat purchasing.Your order confirmation page is the first step on this final leg of the purchase path. While confirming thedetails of the order as well as confirming the order has been processed, you should also set the expectationwith the customer about what will happen next. Remove concerns about when the item will actuallyship by including any order processing times to prepare the shipment, the shipping method that waschosen and any estimated arrival times. Provide an immediate option for buyers who may have madea mistake to correct the matter before order fulfillment begins by including a customer service phonenumber and email address. Showing the order ID on this page will also help the customer to identify hisorder when calling.Many retailers muddy up the brand experience with this transactional message. The customer, havingjust experienced a visually rich and dynamic shopping and checkout experience is often met in the inboxwith a plain text, system-generated email. This disconnect from the shopping and buying experience cannot only cause concern around the processing and security of the order but can also derail the positiveexperience they had thus far engaging with your brand. Order confirmation emails should maintain thebrand experience by including visual elements that echo your site and the checkout process. Thesemessages are considered transactional emails, which means you do not need an opt-in to send them.This also means there are limits about promotional content within the body of the email. A commonbest practice is to have 80% of the email dedicated to the order, and 20% can be used for promotionalpurposes. This promotional content should also not be the primary visual component of the email or beplaced above the order details.FrustratedExcitedBored customers receive a somewhat lengthy orderconfirmation email loaded with informative and helpfulcontent. The order number and date are shown at the topof the email, making them easy to reference if the customerneeds to call customer support and reference the order.Both the shipping and billing addresses are prominentlyfeatured, making any typos easy for the customer toidentify. Including both addresses can also give thecustomer a higher degree of confidence that the order willbe processed correctly. Customer confidence is increasedby showing detailed product information including a photo,name, description, color, quantity, shipping method andexpected delivery date. Including the savingsamount, free shipping and $0 sales tax reinforces that thecustomer received a good deal on her order, which canencourage her to come back and buy.Hopefully your customer is excited after shehas submitted her order and receives the order confirmationemail. This message is an ideal time to promote your loyaltyprogram. eBags succinctly sets an expectation of ongoingsavings and free enrollment for their rewards program nearthe product photo and discounted cost.The lower section of the order confirmation email servesmultiple functions. Common concerns and questions – likeorder tracking information, cancellations and returns – aswell as customer support links, email addresses and phonenumbers can help the customer to easily find the informationneeded and decrease calls and time needed by yourcustomer support staff.The lower side bar of the order confirmationemail features several products. This message is anopportunity to encourage repeat purchases while thecustomer is in the buying mood, but approach the productselection carefully. In this example, two nearly identicalproducts are included when the likelihood of a duplicatepurchase is probably low. The other two productscomplement the item that was ordered. This approach ofshowing related and not similar products could be moreeffective to pique the customer’s interest in coming backto buy.

Shipping notifications are also considered transactional messages, and the 80% order / 20% promotionalrule of thumb should be applied. This email should echo most of the content that appears in the orderconfirmation email, though additional effort should be given to include detailed information about the shippingmethod, duration, estimated arrival time and a tracking number (if available) that links to more detailed information.This shipping notification from Amazon sets solidexpectations with the purchaser. The shipping method,availability of tracking and guaranteed delivery date areall featured front-and-center.While these two emails feature order-specificdetails, they should also be part of a largerpost-purchase email initiative. This automatedemail series can set expectations for yourpromotional email campaign if the customeropted-in, as well as show the customer otherways to engage with your brand, like followingyou on Twitter or Facebook. The post-purchaseseries can expand well beyond the order dateto include customer satisfaction surveys,product tips and tricks, ratings and reviewrequests and discounts for the next purchase.

The path that consumers take to shop, buy and engage with retailers will continue to evolve. Some pathswill become well-worn, potholes will appear and you will need to occasionally repave. This vital narrowingof the purchase funnel is the pinnacle of your marketing efforts and can make or break a sale. While morecreative and dynamic testing and development exists on the wider end of the sales funnel, it is essentialfor this path to be streamlined, functional and fully-optimized to provide the best customer experiencethat guides your customer to submitting their order and taking the path back for a repeat purchase.To learn more about maximizing thecustomer experience and driving repeatsales after the purchase, check out theon-demand webinar “Power-Packing YourPost-Purchase Programs” by MarketLiveand Bronto.About BrontoAbout MarketliveBronto Software provides solutions for retailers and othercommerce-focused companies to drive revenue throughtargeted email and cross-channel marketing. The companyserves over 1000 organizations worldwide, including PartyCity, Armani Exchange, Timex, Samsonite and Trek Bikes.Bronto is a five-time finalist and two-time winner of the StevieAward for Best Customer Service and was named a CODiEAward Finalist for Best Marketing Solution in 2011 and 2012.Bronto is headquartered in Durham, NC with an office inLondon, UK. For more information, visit 1995, MarketLive, Inc., has been the leading providerof eCommerce technology and services that help fast-growingcompanies successfully sell goods and services online.Designed to meet the unique requirements of catalogers,retailers, direct marketers, and manufacturers, the extensibleMarketLive ® eCommerce Suite and MarketLive’s best practicesbasedIntelligent Selling ® methodology enable merchants toenhance their customers’ experience online while dramaticallyimproving acquisition, conversion, and retention rates.The MarketLive platform is the most retail-targeted, fullyfeatured, customizable eCommerce solution on the markettoday. MarketLive powers many successful retail eCommercesites, including Armani Exchange, Party City, Perricone MD,Sport Chalet, Sundance, Helzberg, John Deere, Title Nine,Intermix and others.For more information, visit MarketLive at

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