Merchant Innovation

Are Shopping Carts And Wishlists Keys To Omnichannel Success?

The disparity between the most and least omnireadi merchants is getting to be downright cavernous. According to the new Q3 2016 OmniReadi Index™, the top 10 percent of merchants improved their omnichannel scores by 16 percent over the last quarter, while the bottom 10 percent saw theirs drop by more than 40 percent. And, in between, growth is slowing. That, along with more than 800 data points on the state of retail’s omnireadiness, inside the hot-off-the-presses OmniReadi Index.

According to research in Q3’s PYMNTS.com OmniReadi Index, wishlists, purchase histories and other similar features are some of the most important ingredients in retailers’ omnicommerce strategies.

The index shows that the vast majority of leading merchants offer purchase histories and wishlists, while only a minority of the middle and lower tiers of retailers offer similar features.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Jesse Ness, senior marketing manager of Ecwid, an eCommerce shopping cart and online store solution provider, discussed the importance of shopping carts to online retailers. He pointed out that these online carts have largely replaced POS systems as the central component of any business.

“Now, that hub is the shopping cart,” Ness said. “That’s where you keep your data on inventory and price, and that’s what you center the business around.”

 

Data — The All-Powerful, Wish-Granting Genie?

One of the biggest tools that shopping carts provide to retailers is a large amount of data about what their customers are purchasing. As outlined by index research, that kind of data and information is a key part of a successful omnicommerce strategy.

For example, many shopping carts collect purchase history information, including what items a customer purchased, when they purchased them and what other items they viewed or purchased during the same shopping trip. With this information, online retailers can predict other items consumers may be likely to buy and advertise those products to them.

This collected data is crucial for retailers to boost their profits, as it lets them effectively target their customers’ wants and needs, Ness said.

“The biggest thing is to use these product recommendations as an upsell for our merchants,” he explained. When a customer adds products to an online cart, the merchant can recommend other related products before the purchase is complete, and this can significantly increase the average order value, Ness added.

Online shopping carts can also help simplify the online ordering process for merchants and their customers. As an example, Ness mentioned an aquarium and tropical fish retailer that previously had multiple “buy buttons” for different products, each of which had to be purchased and shipped via a separate process. After introducing a shopping cart, however, the business was able to offer a more seamless checkout experience and add more payment options, including credit and debit cards, PayPal and mobile wallets.

With the older process, “people might click on four different products they wanted to buy, but each had its own shipping
process,” Ness explained. “With an integrated shopping cart, multiple products could be added with one shipping quote, without the customer having to enter their shipping and billing information multiple times.”

The importance of features such as transaction histories can be seen in the results of the index research. According to the index, 100 percent of the top 10 merchants use purchase history features, while none of the bottom 10 merchants and just 10 percent of the lower third of merchants offer purchase history functions.

More Than Just Wishful Wishing

Wishlists, which are often closely related to purchase histories, are also an important feature for retailers looking to build as complete an omnicommerce strategy as possible. While merchants can use purchase histories to make personalized recommendations based on a consumer’s past purchases, wishlists can be used to determine which customers are most interested in buying in the future.

According to the index, wishlists also have a profound impact on omnichannel success for online retailers. Eighty percent of the top 10 retailers offer wishlists, while just 5 percent of merchants in the lower tier of merchants do so.

Ness said his experience with wishlists matches the index research. He pointed out that customers are typically more inclined to purchase items they have pined over for an extended period of time, and wishlists allow customers to build a roster of future purchases. These wishlists are often used to help pick out gifts.

Whether customers purchase an item for themselves or have someone else buy it as a gift, the item is more likely to be bought, Ness added.

Wishlists also enable merchants to make online shopping a more social experience. The lists often allow — and encourage — shoppers to share the items they want with their friends and family on social media, which may expose new customers to a product or online merchant.

While social sharing may not directly impact a customer’s shopping experience, it does have other beneficial effects for merchants, Ness noted.

“Any time you can mix social with eCommerce, that really helps our merchants out,” he said.

 

Shopping Carts: Stagnation Stoppers?

As the index reports, omnireadiness is stagnating. Growth has slowed since the end of the 2015 shopping season, and the gap between the best and worst scoring merchants continues to increase.

Online retailers that may be looking to stave off that stagnation and close that gap should look to implement features such as transaction and purchase history. Again and again, industries such as sporting goods retailers that largely embrace these elements have shown that they have better omnichannel strategies than do retailers from industries such as grocery and pharmacy, which often have yet to invest in wishlists or purchase history abilities.

It seems that the secret to omnichannel success may sit within shopping carts — the ones without wheels.

To download the 2016 Q3 PYMNTS.com OmniReadi Index™, click below.

omnireadi_download_here

About The Index

The PYMNTS.com OmniReadi Index™, powered by Vantiv, was designed to quantify the consistency between the web and in-store shopping experience and determine if the mobile channel is helping, hurting or simply neutral to the overall situation.

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