Built the best store in the world, spent thousands on advertising and still did not achieve targets? You probably failed to assess the online behavior an average customer shows.
Online selling is not a piece of cake. You need to have a lot of information on the hows and whys of customer behavior. You need to understand the depths of your products and the niche market that you will be operating in. To make things easier for yourself, consider having some basic technological information about the store too. This will help you in covering any unwelcoming circumstances.
We, then, come to the most important aspect: Marketing. You need to know how to promote your store to your niche.
When we think of marketing online, we often strategize and implement. This results in forgetting a crucial aspect: Online Consumer Behavior. The most probable reasoning that can be made for this is that the buying process seems quite obvious: prospect lands on your site, looks for the desired product, finds the pricing (including shipping) to be reasonable, purchases the product, and leaves.
If only it could be that easy.
The four stages of consumer buying process that we commonly come across are quite straightforward. It says that the customer goes through the following stages before a making a purchase:
- Need recognition
- Search for solution
- Evaluation of alternatives
However, there are gray areas involved that happen during each of these stages. If you are the owner of an online store, then it is important for you to understand the psyche of your buyers.
The FFF Model of Online Consumer Behavior
A lot of models have been presented on the subject of Online Consumer Behavior. Among these, the most simple and relevant model was proposed in 2012 by two management professors from India, Ujwala Dange and Vinay Kumar.
The FFF Model of Online Consumer Behavior can be seen as a tweaked version of the traditional model. It takes into consideration the internal and external factors that affect consumer buying behavior online before proceeding to discuss the main filtering elements that a customer applies to the selection of an online store. It finally looks at the revised filtered buying behavior that looks at the final selection process.
Graphically, the customer purchase journey as per the model looks like this:
Kumar and Dange identified external and internal factors as the first element that motivates customers to buy products or services online. The external factors include those aspects that are beyond the control of the customers, like their demographics, technology, and public policy; culture; reference groups; and marketing.
After the external factors, we have the internal factors that include personal traits, behaviors, attitudes, learning, perception, motivation, self-image, and semiotics. The outcome of these factors is defined as buying motives. Jagdish Sheth, Professor of Marketing at Emory University, divided these motives into two types: Functional and Nonfunctional. These are defined below.
These motives relate to the needs of the consumers and include things like time of consumer shopping, convenience of online shopping, discount and actual prices and the environment in which the shopping is being done (e.g. sitting on a couch), and the selection of products, etc.
These motives include cultural and social values of the brand, the store or product for instance.
Next up in the model are the important filtering elements. Filtering elements include Security, Privacy and Trust factors as the three main hurdles to online buying. What does this mean? It means if your e-store is not designed and configured according to the benchmarks set within the consumer mind in relation to these aspects, the customer will not buy from you.
These three factors rank among the top-most filtering elements for buying choices in the minds of the customers. Prospects use these factors as benchmarks when deciding whether to purchase from your online store or not. Even if your store has products at cheaper prices, but the customer is not satisfied from the security, privacy and trustworthiness of the store, he or she will leave without a purchase. (You may also get a negative word-of-mouth.)
There is risk involved during the purchase process when you compare online shopping model to the traditional brick-and-mortar model. Customers are now more informed and they understand what happens with their data online. They recognize the risk that online shopping possesses.
The 3 All-Important Store “Build or Break” Factors
Customers generally filter their purchase decision in online shopping based on these 3 factors:
Internet comes with loads of pros and cons. One major setback of the internet is that stored information could easily be hacked. Not much rocket science is needed to hack a database of personal information. Sometimes, even credit card details and social security numbers are compromised. Recent security breaches have shown how deadly information hack can get.
Customers now make security-wise sound purchase decisions and therefore, they are more conscious about the dangers of stolen web data.
Another major setback of internet concerns the matter of privacy. The personal information of customers is mishandled or stolen by third-party companies to send unsolicited emails and spam to customers. You may not lose your financials because of privacy breaches; however, it still becomes a cause of frustration and diminished trust.
3. Trust and Trustworthiness
How to Take Advantage of the FFF Model to Develop a Better Online Store
It is not enough to just understand the FFF model theoretically. You need to apply it and act upon it when you are designing your store. Here are some of the key takeaways from the model that you should always keep in mind when making your own store.
All Customers Come to Your Store with Different Motives. Understand Them!
Every customer has different motives that affect their buying behavior. These motives might include social circumstances or personal ones too. For e.g., if you are in the business of contraceptives, then you need to make sure your shipment is packed in specific packaging as the product may be perceived differently among various customer groups and probably, your customers might not want to share what they bought.
Take Actions to Overcome Customer Concerns
You need to make sure that every concern of your customer is taken care of by the back-end mechanism of your store as well as the frontend design. Some things that you may do, include:
- Use recognized, known payment processors.
- Apply SSL security policies to ensure top-level security of data.
- Apply for accreditation of your shop by the concerned industry. This will help you gain more trust.
- Have your contact details prominently displayed on the website. This would help customers know that you have a physical presence as well.
Leverage Social Media for Your Store
Engage with your customers on social platforms instead of just posting simple updates about your store. Your strategy also needs to have a well-defined content marketing plan to assist your social marketing strategy.
Finally, provide the best customer service to your prospects and to your customers to build long-lasting relationships with them.
This model explains how to understand the underlying motives behind consumer purchase decisions. If you are the owner of a store or are planning to start one this holiday season, then you need to go through this model to know the key factors that influence the behavior of online consumers.
Hosting Plays an Important Part
You just cannot host your online store on any hosting medium. If you are thinking you will have privacy on shared hosting plans, then you are mistaken. Shared hosting is not worth the time or effort. It is vulnerable to attack. In contrast, cloud hosting works dedicated resources and Cloudways is among the best managed Cloud Hosting Platforms.
We regularly ensure that server-level security stays solid and we can also help you in keeping your web store safe too through our Security addons. Plus, we let you test you our performance-optimized Cloud Platform for FREE! Start a trial now.
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