Trust in online shopping is the main topic of the technical workshop organized by the association TOP 500 Innovators and Media4U. As a result of brainstorming, 50 ideas have been created that will significantly improve the operation of webshops in the future.
At a time when everyone is chasing something, every minute is worth its weight in gold. Eight-hour work, training, home, cooking ... - daytime activities are still multiplied and multiplied. More and more often we have a dilemma, what to choose, how to gather more time. How to go to the store in all this bustle? Is it worth losing your precious time in queues, choosing, trying, trying on, walking between bookshelves? Consumer needs do not disappear, only the channels of their satisfaction are modified. We live in a new era, when you just have to sit in front of the computer, click a few times, and the items ordered by us will be delivered to your home. Despite the constant development of technology and the widespread use of them in everyday life, we are still meeting the reserve to use the solutions offered to us by some online stores.
Why do we still distrust online shopping? Research shows that the electronics and fashion industries have the best results in online sales. However, the problem appears in other areas, such as the food industry. People are reluctant to, or rarely do, first-time shopping in e-stores. What is a barrier for industries that are less popular in online sales? How can you increase your trust in e-commerce stores by using new technological opportunities?
The best Polish scientists and entrepreneurs associated in the TOP 500 Innovators tried to answer these questions. During the Tech Challenge workshops organized in Lodz, they had to face the perspective of their own experiences and confront them with new technologies that are already within our reach. Through the brainstorming method, everyone participating in the challenge had the opportunity to present their ideas on the forum and submit them for discussion. Thanks to the huge involvement of the participants, it was possible to create as many as 50 solutions that can increase the clients' confidence in shopping in e-stores. Below are the most important concerns of customers and ideas how to solve them.
Imagine your favorite local shop, where staff greets you with a smile from behind the counter. Familiar seller asks how the day has passed and whether you will take a kilo of strawberries or only half this time. Sometimes you stand in the queue, sometimes something does not work. After all, you always come back there to feel, touch and taste, and sometimes just talk and listen to gossip. A known situation for you? It turns out that one of the most important elements of a visit to a stationary store is the opportunity to "experience". It is mainly about sensory impressions - we can touch everything there, see it closely, sometimes try it. How to make webshop customers able to participate in the shopping process in a full-scale manner? The ideal solution would be to use virtual technology or augmented reality, thanks to which the customer would "enter" the online store as a stationary one, with the difference that he would not have to break the threshold of his home. This would increase the realism of online shopping and the comfort of a customer used to navigating a traditional store. Thanks to the knowledge of the distribution of a given store it would be easier to navigate its virtual counterpart and go to the right alleys. In the food industry when shopping for products with a short shelf life, it is important to check the appearance of the product before putting it in the basket. An extremely useful tool here would be a real preview of the selected articles on the camera and the ability to indicate and choose a specific product. During the discussion there was also the idea of creating dynamic images and multimedia showing a given product in different conditions or in different settings in order to compare its properties depending on external factors. "Familiar seller will always advise me what product to choose." - In parallel in a virtual store, we can enter an online consultation with a purchasing advisor who will be happy to answer our questions and dispel doubts about the choice of a given product. The conversation with a particular person visible on the screen is also more trustful than with an anonymous consultant. It turns out that it is the possibility of direct contact with a human being, not just a computer, that gives customers a higher sense of credibility.
Personalization of the offer is another topic taken during brainstorming by the workshop participants. In this matter, many voices have appeared for returning to a given store and doing the same / similar purchases once again to be able to choose our favorite products from the list that has been saved to the basket. This would work especially for routine purchases, eg from the food industry. With one click, we could order what we always would - it would save our time, and besides, it would make even an online store feel like a regular customer. Some would say that it is not anonymity, others would say that it gives them a nice feeling of being recognized and increases trust. By using fast computational capabilities, we could offer our customers real-time shopping ideas. Imagine this situation: you buy ingredients for dinner, you choose chicken, potatoes and salad, you wonder a moment. During this time, the computer suggests you a selection of vegetables for lettuce or meat seasonings. By analyzing some connections between products and intelligent shopping suggestions, we would be able to generate more sales revenue. Consumer decisions also depend very much on the ratings and comments of other users. A product with bad reviews will be less often purchased from that with flattering ones. Honest e-store sharing of all customer reviews builds trust in the brand. An interesting idea seems to be the introduction of the possibility of inserting multimedia opinions about products. Many of us would like to see how a given product looks like - in different lighting conditions, with different usage dates or on different profiles. Pictures, videos, vlogs about a given product are a few suggestions that could be added to the page with the article we are interested in.
As it turns out, the type and course of delivery become a very important element of the purchasing process and the final decision to buy. Being in constant motion, we are not always able to determine where exactly we will be staying in 3 days, when a courier with a shipment has to come to us. More and more problems with picking up packages appear in situations where we ourselves work until 16-18, and we do not have the possibility to collect the parcel at the workplace. There are several solutions here. Based on the data transfer in the 5G network, we can accurately determine our geolocation, which gives the possibility to "match up" the courier's place with our own. This would eliminate the difficulty of receiving the parcel, as the courier would always have access to our current location. In addition, there could be a situation where our paths during the day would cross each other. Such "meetings" would allow time savings related to the delivery of the delivery agent to the recipient.
The second solution is mobile collection points - stations where our shipments are waiting for personal collection in our absence. It is important that there are a lot of them in different places of the city or that they have the ability to move between the given points at specific intervals. In addition, each of the waiting for his shipment would have access to the application showing the exact place where his package is located.
Remaining on the subject of delivery, an important aspect of the purchase decision is the possibility of a free return carried out by the seller. It is a very quick receipt by the courier of a product that did not meet our expectations and an immediate transfer of costs that we incurred in connection with the purchase. Currently, some online stores already use the option of free returns, but still a downside is the long waiting time for the courier, and then for a refund.
Concerns that arise about online shopping are often related to the payment itself. For the first time moving around a given e-store, we have doubts about the credibility of the seller, and thus more often we leave the site with an unfinished basket. In this case, the solution is the so-called smart contracts - the transaction is paid in phases, e.g. via a trust account. The whole purchase process is divided into several parts, we can assume that they will be: accepting orders, completing, forwarding to shipping, delivery and collection by the ordering party. Each element of this cycle is allocated a certain percentage of the entire payment - after each of them, a part of the amount is transferred to the seller. In this way, the customer can be sure that after paying for the goods his parcel will not get stuck in one of the stages, even though he has fully fulfilled his obligations as a buyer.
We often meet impersonal online stores where we do not know exactly who is on the other side of the screen. The human face of the store is a very important element of proper identification of the seller. It is worth to put in a separate module on the store's website information about people standing behind the whole undertaking. It builds a sense of security in customers and increases trust in the entire purchasing process. Distance to shopping in e-shops also causes difficult contacts with the seller via the hotline. Building a friendly relationship with the client and working out the right way of communication is another very important element of the purchasing process. The impersonal vending machines should be avoided in favor of consultants assigned individually to a given client in such a way that one case is always served by the same person.
The above ideas are just a few suggestions on how technology development can change e-commerce in the near future. Growing data transfer capabilities, more computing power and modern marketing tools create an unlimited field for our imagination. One of the perspectives facing us in the near future is the 5G network. What's next? Will webshops soon become more popular even in such industries as food or pharmaceutical? Or maybe they will soon replace stationary stores? These and many other questions we leave you in the future for further verification. Thank you for helping all participants of the workshops at the VII Association Association TOP 500 Innovators!
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